Schools should be places in which every child feels safe and respected. But for too many children from Black and minoritised communities, that is simply not the case.
First published: May 2022.
Studies have shown that Black students in particular are more likely to be excluded from school, with severe consequences for their futures. Expectations for them tend to be lower and willingness to punish them for perceived wrongdoing tends to be higher.
The challenges and sometimes trauma faced by schoolchildren from minoritised ethnicity backgrounds are well-documented. The recent story of Child Q, a 15-year-old girl strip-searched by police at her school, is a chilling example of a Black child being falsely accused, ‘adultified’, and horribly mistreated.
Earlier this month, we were contacted by Sarah* about her children’s shocking experience at an after-school club in London. Sarah’s then five-year-old daughter, who has medical issues, had soiled herself. Rather than taking care of her, the club’s staff made her eight-year-old brother clean her up himself, in full view of other pupils and staff. He says that a staff member told him, “I’m not cleaning her; she’s your sister, you clean her.” When she asked to be taken to the toilet to be cleaned up in private, she was ignored. Thanks to Sarah’s advocacy on her children’s behalf, the school has taken some steps to improve its safeguarding. But Sarah feels that, as a Black mum, she has faced extra obstacles to making her voice heard, which have compounded her family’s trauma.
If racism is to be rooted out of society, it must be rooted out of schools.
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Increased public awareness, better teacher training and improved regulation are all essential tools to bring about that change. The law is another tool; we believe that empowering pupils and parents to better understand their rights and, where appropriate, enforce them is an essential part of the jigsaw.
To that end, Good Law Project is bearing all the costs incurred by a leading law firm in supporting Sarah with whatever assistance she needs to fight for justice for her family. But Sarah knows, and we know, that her family’s experience is not unique.
That’s why we are crowdfunding; so we can support not just Sarah and her children, but the so many other families from Black and minoritised communities who have similar experiences to Sarah’s.
(*) We’ve given Sarah a pseudonym to protect her identity.
If you’re in a position to support the Good Law Project’s legal work in this space, you can do so here. Any money you donate, save for our standard 10% contribution to Good Law Project’s core costs, will go to providing legal support for Black and other minoritised families facing racism in schools. We will use that money to supply free specialist legal advice to families like Sarah’s.
— AUTHORS —
GET THEM INVOLVED:
- Black children over-policed in schools, report says | BBC News
- The shameful strip search of Child Q | The Guardian
- Text: This piece was originally published in Good Law Project’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 8 May 2022, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Unsplash/CDC. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)