The Youth Select Committee (UKYP) has called on the Government to do more to tackle the prevalence of racism in society (Photo: Jessica Taylor/ UK Parliament)
The Youth Select Committee (UKYP) has called on the Government to do more to tackle the prevalence of racism in society.
An Inquiry into tackling racism and religious discrimination was held by the Committee after the issue was voted as a priority campaign in their House of Commons debates. According to the Committee: “Racism and religious discrimination continue to remain prevalent in everyday life for many living in the UK. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), and the repercussions of that vote in subsequent weeks, brought this issue to the forefront of public attention.” The subsequent report ‘Young People and the issues of racism and religious discrimination’ was published on November 16.
The 2016 Youth Select Committee consisted of eleven people, aged 15–19, and included both elected and reserved seats to ensure a broad representation of interests and experience from all parts of the UK. Each year, the UKYP holds a UK-wide ballot called ‘Make Your Mark’, in which young people vote for one of their top issues of concern. Two of those issues then become national campaigns in the year ahead.
The Inquiry focused on the following areas: the level and quality of awareness and education in schools; the prevalence of racism and religious discrimination and how organisations, such as Kick It Out, and some young people are attempting to tackle it; how the issues can be tackled at a local level by communities; and how it should be approached at a national level by the Government.
The Inquiry received a number of written submissions and heard oral evidence demonstrating that racism and religious discrimination have become “normalised” among young people as many view it as “banter”. It found that some young people did not recognise how taunting in schools could constitute discrimination.
“Many young people have therefore experienced racism or religious discrimination in some form, sometimes even from those they class as friends. People’s attitudes towards racism and religious discrimination have become normalised and there is ambiguity surrounding what constitutes such behaviour.” The Committee called on the Government to “work with young people, the police and race and religion organisations to agree on definitions of racism and religious discrimination. The Government should agree on definitions within six months and publicise these on gov.uk, through social media and in schools.”
The Committee recommended that Local Authorities place a legal duty on schools to require them to record and report data on incidents of discrimination, including racism and religious discrimination. “This would provide Local Authorities with better information on the prevalence of racism and religious discrimination in schools, and would provide Ofsted with information to inform their assessments of schools.”
One of their main recommendations was that an Advisory Group be set up which comprises representatives from schools, Local Authorities, community groups, the police, reporting services, and young people, and should be chaired by a Government Minister.
It also recommends that local groups, including places of worship, should hold regular inter-race and inter-faith events where race and religion are “explicitly explored” and that Local Authorities should take a role in overseeing and monitoring this work.
The Committee found that many young people were not aware of who to turn to when reporting racism. It recommended that the Government and organisations use online tools to promote existing services for victims of racism and religious discrimination and methods of reporting such incidents. It called upon social media and other online platforms to work with organisations to enable them to promote their services free of charge.