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Effects Of Racism On Young People In United Kingdom

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In this essay I will be debating the meaning of racism and effects of racism on young people through theories. I will be analyzing theories and lawmaking policies addressing racism, specifically institutional racism in community and youth work. In addition, I will be pointing out barriers that have been highlighted in studying institutional racism in community and youth work. Racism is discrimination towards someone because of their race. According to Berman & Paradies (2010) “Racism can be broadly defined as behaviours, practices, beliefs, and prejudices that underlie avoidable and unfair inequalities across groups in society based on race, ethnicity, culture, or religion”. In 1965 the United Kingdom, the Race Relations Act was the first legislation in place to address racism and racial discrimination, which banned racial discrimination in public places. This act also made the promotion of hatred on the grounds of ‘colour, race, or ethnic or national origins’ an offence. The Race Relations Act extended in 1968 so that goods, facilities and services, employment and housing associations could not discriminate. Institutional racism is a form of racism expressed in professional services, organisations, and society. In the Macpherson Inquiry Report (The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry), institutional racism is defined as: “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people”.

Institutional racism within education for those from ethnic minority backgrounds, specifically young black students have been a big issue in the United Kingdom. This has impacted young black people in a negative way because of the stereotypes that have been implemented into peoples beliefs, them being: young black people do not succeed in school because they are not smart enough, there can be a language barrier (if they’ve been raised to speak their native language before speaking English). The impact of these two factors are that black and ethnic minority groups are being bullied for their language barrier and in some cases, they become bullies themselves and a lot of times, they are then expelled. Statistics have also shown that more than 87,000 racist incidents recorded in schools in 2012. The department of Education has shown that there were 4,590 exclusions for racist abuse during 2016-17 academic year in England, in comparison to approximately 3,900 exclusions in 2013-14. On the government website, it showed statistics in 2017-18 that white students were the most expelled students temporarily and permanently in comparison to black and Asian students. Additionally, when young people of ethnic minority background are told that they are not smart enough, they tend to not do their work and misbehave in class constantly and end up failing school. The impact of racism can result to the young people being deviant and becoming delinquents. The Swann Report (1985) stated ‘‘there is no doubt that Black Caribbean children, as a group, and on average, are underachieving, both by comparison with their school fellows in the White majority, as well as in terms of their potential.” On the other hand, research from the government website showed that 45% of young black people attained an average score of 8 on their GCSE’s, but white British students were only higher by 1.1% with 46.1% achievement rates. This could show that the Swann report is out of date as it was written in 1985.The statistics also indicated on the government website that pupils from the White Gypsy/Roma and Irish Traveller ethnic groups had the lowest average scores. Considering Chinese students are from an ethnic minority background, they achieved the highest scores.

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There are cases that social media has a massive contribution to the rise of hate speech and online bullying: there are websites that racists post comments, photos and videos that people share. It can be argued that it is online so there is no physical damage and the public has free speech. However, in schools there are still cases of young people being racially bullied. The Girlguiding Girls’ Attitude 2014 Survey (again this was not restricted to bullying in school environments) found that 42 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 know girls at their age who have experienced racist bullying. In addition, in recent cases, there has been xenophobic posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but famous people are using the platform to make it aware to the public (their followers) that this behaviour should be stopped and it is unacceptable. This has affected the community as no-one is coming together online to tackle the problem, so it continues.

There has been a rise of cases that indicate young people having bad health and mental health issues because of racism. This causes young people to have anxiety and depression. Digital Awareness UK commissioned independent and state schools to do a survey about the impact of social media. It was found that out of 5,000 students, 57% said that they received abusive comments online and 52% said social media made them feel less confident. Also, this survey is only covering social media, and not specifically on racism. Statistics show on the that detention rates under the Mental Health Act during 2017-18 were four times higher for people in the Black/Black British group than those in the White group. The Public Health England partnered with Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition to promote children and young people’s emotional health and well-being; working with schools, staff, students and parents/carers. However, it has been argued that teachers rarely get full training on racism, Sir Alasdair Macdonald undertook a review of PSHE in 2009 and noted that, “all Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses should include some focus on PSHE education”.

In addition to law and legislations, there are now training in place (at work or general and personal interest) for community and youth workers to be aware and know how to handle situations such as racism. The Youth Select Committee had an annual United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP) debate in House of Commons on 13 November 2015; 969,992 young people voted in the ‘Mark Your Mark’ ballot, with more than 95,000 young people specifically to discuss racism and religious discrimination as their number one issue of concern. One of the outcome of this debate was the recommendation of increase of digital tools to assist victims reporting incidents of racism and religious discriminations as well as raise awareness of the issues of racism and discrimination. However, work being undertaken by community groups to tackle racism and religious discrimination and to improve community cohesion is threatened by a lack of resources. More so, there are now online courses that are free or at low cost and this is easily gained as there is no exam for the online courses. These courses vary from safeguarding children and adult policy, child protection, to mental health. These strategies are a part of addressing racism, in addition there have been many protests, rallies and petitions to make awareness on racism. London Youth, a network of community youth organisations, highlighted annual multicultural days and community youth groups as effective methods to promote diversity and inclusion between different ethnic and religious groups. There are also services in place such as childline, crimestopper, kick it out app and Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) that can help people for advice and to report hate crimes, discrimination and someone to talk to about being discriminated. This will help victims as they can speak up for themselves or family and friends anonymously, getting the support they need without drawing attention to themselves. It can be argued that trainings being available online does not tackle racism itself and some people can skim read the course so that they can just receive the certificate. Also, the former Prime Minister’s 2020 vision which includes targets in areas where there is cross-departmental responsibility (for example, employment prospects for black and minority ethnic groups). The Government’s recently published hate crime action plan also shows that the Government sees tackling issues related to racism and religious discrimination as a collaborative effort between different groups.

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Effects Of Racism On Young People In United Kingdom. (2021, July 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
“Effects Of Racism On Young People In United Kingdom.” Edubirdie, 18 Jul. 2021,
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Effects Of Racism On Young People In United Kingdom [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Jul 18 [cited 2023 Jun 8]. Available from:
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