Response to Scottish Parliament Committee report into prejudice based bullying

Published: 06 Jul 2017

Responding to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee report into prejudice-based bullying and harassment of children and young people in schools, John Wilkes, Head of Scotland at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

"We agree with the recommendations, and have been calling specifically for mandatory reporting of incidents by schools or education authorities. Currently there is no requirement to do so, and we have long felt this presents a significant weakness in Scottish education policy.

"In the 21st century, parents need to be sure that when they send their children to school they will not become victims of racism or prejudice, and pupils need to be sure that when they do report incidents they will be treated properly. Unfortunately, as the Committee report shows, there are wide variations of practice between councils.

"This is why we submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliamentary enquiry after giving evidence at the UN in Geneva to the convention for the elimination of racial discrimination last year.

"The problem of identity based bullying is not a new one, and the solutions to tackle it are not complex. With a joined up common sense approach, starting with mandatory reporting, we should start to see real results directly benefiting the thousands of school pupils who are currently victims of this bullying each year.

"The Commission’s own research Prejudice-based bullying in Scottish schools found in 2015 that one in four of pupils surveyed said that they were aware of peers in their school experiencing prejudice-based bullying, while just over half of pupils who had themselves experienced bullying said they had reported it to their school. The most commonly experienced forms of prejudice-based bullying included race, disability, sexual orientation and perceived socio-economic status. 

"Unless schools gather this data there is no way to knowing either the scale of the problem or whether any efforts to tackle the problem are having any impact."

Notes to editors

For further information please email Sarah Thoms or call her on 0141 228 5974.

Following on from last year’s Morrow Group report on hate crime commissioned by the Scottish Government, which made recommendations around education and schools setting, we now have the Bracadale Advisory Group, which looks at legislation review on education. The Commission in Scotland sits on the Bracadale Advisory Group.

In 2016 Tavish Scott MSP released information from Freedom of Information request responses which showed that, whilst some councils were recording significant levels of identity-based bullying, others like others like Glasgow and Aberdeen were unable to supply any information at all.