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Education Hate crimes soaring in our schools

FIVE kids are being subjected to hate crimes EVERY DAY — and it’s only getting worse.

New figures show a shocking 62 per cent spike in racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic and transphobic incidents since last year.

School leaders said it was "disturbing" to see an increase, but argued that it was still "relatively rare" for these offences to take place in schools and colleges.

But Britain’s largest teaching union NEU called for personal, social and health education (PSHE) to be enshrined in the statute book to stamp out discrimination.

Research by the Press Association found 1,487 crimes with a hate element were committed at or near schools and colleges in the last two academic years, according to data provided by 29 forces.

Of these, 919 occurred between September 2016 and July 2017 - around five for each day of the school year. In the same period the previous year, the number was just 568.

Police chiefs claimed the rise could be down to "significant efforts" to improve recording systems.

But Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said: "It is disturbing to see an increase in reported hate crimes in schools and colleges. We fear this reflects a wider problem in society beyond the school gates.

"Over the past 18 months, school leaders have told us of a number of incidents in which pupils have been subjected to racial abuse by members of the public, away from school premises, as they go about their daily lives.”

Mr Barton said it was "relatively rare” for hate crimes to take place on school premises, adding: “Schools and colleges are doing a brilliant job in holding it together."

In some of the cases, police forces flagged the crimes as having more than one discriminatory element to them.

Racism accounted for 71 per cent of all flags recorded in the last two academic years (2015/16 and 2016/17).

Religion or belief flags and homophobia accounted for 9 per cent, disability accounted for 10 per cent and transgender identity for 1 per cent.

NEU assistant general secretary Rosamund McNeil said: “Hate crimes are caused by negative attitudes about difference and a cycle of harmful stereotypes. Education must include opportunities for learning about people, ideas and positive relationships. 

"The government has a unique opportunity to make PSHE statutory. That could be part of how we ensure PSHE can help students understand, discuss and prevent hate crimes and the widespread stereotypes and prejudice that causes them.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, National Police Chiefs' Council leader for hate crime, said: "Hate crime, particularly among young people, undermines the diversity and tolerance that we should be celebrating.”

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