NEW research by independent charity Victim Support indicates that children and young people in Wales are experiencing hate crimes in school at an alarming scale and a greater level of support for victims is needed.
The study, which was funded by the Welsh Government, found that over 60 per cent of participants have been victims of hate crime, with the majority of incidents happening within schools.
Participants who did tell school staff about their experiences said that in many cases schools had failed to support them and put a stop to the abuse, and in some circumstances the lack of action led to an increase in harm to the victim.
Worryingly, many children and young people did not disclose the incidents they experience to anyone because it wasn’t viewed as being “big enough” to concern others with or they feared retaliation.
Anonymised quotes from some of the children and young people in the research include:
“It makes me feel very alone, not worthy, I get very angry too”. (14 y/o, Ethnicity and religion)
“Sometimes I’ve had someone hit me, but I’ve not said anything in case it makes it worse… plus they always get away with it so it makes you feel powerless too”. (14 y/o, Ethnicity and religion)
“Teachers only do something if parents get involved. Because they don’t believe the child or don’t understand how bad the situation is, so decide to ignore it. But when a parent gets involved they actually realise something needs to be done.” (14 y/o, Race and religion related hate crime).
“I do worry about how I’m going to be treated in the future, once it gets out about me being trans.” (15 y/o, Sexual orientation related hate crime).
“Imagine if my parents found out, imagine if the community found out… They’re going to say, ‘You’re choosing to be like this.’ ‘You’re influenced by the West’, I feel scared and anxious, on edge. If I told anyone, if I discussed it, how would people react, how would people see me? It’s just these questions that come to mind.” (16 y/o, Sexual orientation related hate crime).
Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice at the Senedd, said: “Our Hate Crime in Schools project will deliver awareness sessions to teachers and pupils in more than 150 schools in 2021/22, and we will continue to fund our Victim Support Cymru-led National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre to be inclusive of young hate crime victims.”