Opposing hate crime in the classroom - whether it’s trending or not
By Laura Newlyn, a volunteer on our Speaker Programme
I’m suffering from referendum fatigue. I’m fed-up with the back-and-forth arguments and frustrated by the uncertainty of the future. But mostly I’m saddened by the divisions it has brought to light.
Regardless of which side you’ve fallen, why or how you got there… whether you sat on the fence, whether you spoilt your ballot or whether, due to whatever reasons, you did not or could not vote at all…. I think we can all agree on one thing:
We are all human.
Various reports and anecdotal evidence show that hate crime is on the rise. But in a post-referendum UK where experts are apparently distrusted let’s also agree that, regardless of what the statistics say, a person is still more valuable than a statistic.
One hate crime is one too many
The increase in racist and xenophobic hate crime in the past few weeks is deeply troubling and has led Amnesty International UK to launch an urgent campaign against hate.
Everyone must know that racism and xenophobia will be challenged and that victims will be heard.
If you are a victim of, or a witness to, a hate crime, report it.
Send a positive message to your students before the summer break
As human rights educators, it is our responsibility and our privilege to enable our students to address those difficult issues which may otherwise be swept under the carpet and ignored. Encouraging open dialogue and discussion about current tensions in the UK may not be easy. But it is a challenge that is particularly pressing ahead of the summer break.
We’ve pulled together some ideas which we hope will support you in supporting others:
- The Citizenship Foundation offers a number of related resources, including a practical guide to Education for Citizenship, Diversity and Race Equality for teachers. For younger students, Respecting Differences: A friend for Faouk introduces respect for racial and cultural differences while Under the Skin delves into issues surrounding the concepts of national identity, race and nationality for older participants.
- This Islamophobia Education Pack explores misconceptions around Islam through an excellent series of activities.
- Lat Blaylock’s resource, Islam and Prejudice, challenges prejudice by considering the impact of the media on our beliefs.
- Education City have collated a Black History Month Toolkit, which remains relevant every day. Key stage 2 lesson plans about the Civil Rights Timeline, Civil Rights since the 1960’s and My Dream for the World are particularly effective for considering respect within the classroom community.
- You may have already read Amnesty’s blog with Three education activities for young people to challenge discrimination, which refers you to our lesson plans on Traveller’s Rights and our Right Here Right Now pack. Have a look at lessons 8 and 9 of this pack. They include a series of activities exploring things that people hold in common and issues surrounding homophobic bullying respectively.
- You may also gain a few ideas from Talking Back to Hate. Here are a lists of resources intended to promote positive and practical action in response to hateful speech.
- Remember, you do not have to go it alone. Stand Against Racism and Equality run assemblies, workshops and lessons for your students as well as training to teachers and staff to deal with hateful incidents.
Let’s look at our classroom communities. Let’s identify how we can all work together. And let us recognise that we do have #moreincommon than some of the public rhetoric would have us believe.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.