YOUNG Scots are experiencing a surge in racist attitudes after the Brexit vote was taken as a “green light” for prejudice, according to campaigners, who warn schools are too ready to turn a blind eye.

 

Figures released by Show Racism the Red Card indicate the proportion of pupils reporting having witnessed or been the victim of a racist incident has doubled since 2015/2016.

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The anti-racism campaign says more scapegoating of minorities since Britain voted to quit the EU is the most likely explanation.

 

However, when the Scottish Government-funded group flags up the problem to schools, they can be reluctant to fact up to the problem, according to Nicola Hay, Campaign Manager at Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

 

“When we call up the headteacher we are always met with furious hostility for bringing it up,” she said.

 

“We are finding there is serious underreporting in schools [of racist incidents]. Schools don’t want to be tainted as racist and seem to be willing to sweep it under the rug as opposed to having an open and honest conversation with young people about it.”

 

SRtRC works with primary schools in the west of Scotland to deliver anti-racism education in partnership with the Scottish Government Equality Unit and Police Scotland. Workshops help young people to explore racism and topics such as Islamophobia, as well as how to challenge prejudice.

 

However, while 18 per cent of pupils the group worked with last year reported having experienced racism, 37 per cent of those worked with this year said they had.

 

They included white and ethnic minority pupils, including one boy who said he had been “called a Paki, being told not to wear a kilt because of my race,” and a girl who said neighbouring boys had called her a “brown b****”.

 

Ms Hay said the figures, based on sessions with 1,500 primary school pupils over two school years, indicated a significant rise in young people’s experiences of racism.

 

“It is likely that the spike in racist experiences is a result of Brexit almost legitimising xenophobic views,” she said.

 

“Young people are experiencing it more and hearing about it in the media and at home. If you ask them about migration, they associate it with people coming for jobs, housing or giros.

 

“It is vital that we address these issues before we find them escalating any further.”

 

In classes, 64 per cent of the young people who had witnessed an incident said it had been stressful, but most did not know what to do about it, Ms Hay said.

 

Only around one in three reported it to an adult, 14 per cent of young people said they just ignored it, while 8 per cent said they safely challenged it.

 

A spokesman for the GMB union said the findings bust the myth that Scotland is more tolerant than the rest of the UK.

 

Ude Adigwe, a GMB regional organiser who himself experienced racism in Scotland’s education system, said: “These shocking figures show any idea Scotland is a haven of tolerance compared to the rest of the UK is absolute nonsense. Brexit and increasing levels of poverty have created fertile breeding ground for divisive racist poison.”