13 Ways to Tackle Racist Bullying Behaviour in School: A Guide for Educators
Tackling racist bullying behaviour can feel challenging – and that’s because it is! Racist bullying behaviour often stems from deep-rooted, systemic racism and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. But there are practical steps you as an educator can take to make your school a kinder, safer place for students of all backgrounds. Here are our top tips on how to tackle racist bullying behaviour.
1. Run peer-led workshops, assemblies and form time presentations
Why not encourage your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors to conduct research and put together an assembly to raise awareness of racist bullying behaviour and to remind students that everyone has the right to feel safe and respected at school? They could also run workshops during term-time to encourage peers to stand up to racist bullying behaviour. Check out our Resource Centre and Support Centre for ideas to get you started. Remember that one workshop can go a long way but it’s important to continually address racist bullying behaviour, so once your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors have some initial ideas on assemblies and workshops they’d like to run, why not schedule a ‘refresher’ session once a term, for example?
2. Conduct a student-led survey to understand the key issues relating to racist bullying behaviour in your school
The survey could be put together by your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors and ask questions like ‘how often do you see or experience racist bullying behaviour at school?’, ‘are there particular locations in school where racist bullying behaviour happens most?’, ‘what types of racist bullying behaviour incidents have you seen in school (i.e. racist language)?’, ‘would you know what to do if you saw racist bullying behaviour?’ and ‘what ideas do you have to tackle racist bullying behaviour?’ Once you and your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors understand the challenges you face, you will be better equipped to address racist bullying behaviour. For example, if racist bullying behaviour takes place mostly in the corridors between lessons, could you work with your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors create a patrol rota to ensure a nominated student and school staff member is present to deter and address incidents?
3. Provide opportunities for young people from different backgrounds to mix and share their experiences with one another
This could be through celebrating different countries and asking students to bring in food from their culture for others to try or wearing traditional dress.
4. When students carry out group work, consider whether the groups are diverse
Are students given opportunities to regularly meet and interact with peers from different backgrounds and experiences? Often, we may unconsciously place people of a similar background together when forming groups, so be aware of the group dynamics in your school and try to offer ways for students to integrate with those they may not otherwise come into contact with. Similarly, you may like to consider this when creating seating charts.
5. Diversify your bookshelves
How diverse is your school library? Are authors of different backgrounds equally represented? Some of our favourite books include ‘The Colour Purple’ and ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and you can find more great suggested books online.
6. Embed anti-racism across the curriculum
Don’t just leave discussions on race for history lessons. Encourage your students to consider the role race plays across subjects and to be critical thinkers – for example, if all the authors they study in English class are of the same race, why do they think this is? What does this suggest? What about composers in Music lessons? The more race is discussed across the curriculum, the more young people will be exposed to learning about those from other backgrounds.
7. Review your school’s HR policies and procedures
Is your teaching staff team diverse? Do staff reflect the students they teach? Review the hiring process to ensure equal opportunities and increase the diversity of your staff.
8. Create fair opportunities for students of all backgrounds to be involved in extra-curricular opportunities
Consider how students are selected for opportunities in school - for example, how are students selected to give an assembly or take part in sports day? Are the same students always picked first? Offer opportunities to students who may otherwise be overlooked. It’s important for students to see themselves reflected in those selected to take part in exciting opportunities to represent their school community.
9. Challenge everyday racist bullying behaviour, even if it makes you uncomfortable
This is incredibly important and can have a drastic impact on your school environment. Challenge behavior and language which promote racist bullying behaviour, including microaggressions (a statement, action or incident which is indirect or subtle discrimination against members of a marginalised group). If a student displays racist bullying behaviour, remain calm and ask if they truly understand the meaning of their words and the impact; often, young people who display racist bullying behaviour are copying their peers (or their parents/carers) and may not fully understood the meaning of the words they repeat or how their actions impact others. Once they have been pulled up on this, they then have the opportunity to change their behaviour. If the situation allows, you could encourage an impromptu group discussion on racist bullying behaviour and why students’ behaviour and language towards their peers matters.
10. Bring Parents/Carers into the conversation
Why not encourage your Anti-Bullying Ambassadors to run a session for parents/carers on tackling racist bullying behaviour? Or invite parents/carers to an event that celebrates diverse cultures, for example by sharing different food from around the world or with stalls to learn about different cultures? Behaviours young people display often stem from behaviour they see at home and normalise, so include parents/carers in your plans to build a safer, kinder school community.
11. Take part in Celebration Events such as Black History Month
These should extend beyond just one assembly or one display board. What opportunities for new learning, discussions and experiences can you implement? Similarly to Anti-Bullying Week, these annual events should be year-round, with the month offering a chance to hone in on key issues. For example, students could work with their local community to support independent Black-owned businesses or hold an event to fundraise for an anti-racism charity like ‘Show Racism the Red Card’.
12. Ask your Anti-Bullying Ambassador for their ideas
Your students will know best how to tackle racist bullying behaviour on the ground and can pave the way forward for their peers. Why not include an initial discussion in your next Anti-Bullying Ambassador meeting to get the ball rolling?
13. Work towards The Diana Award’s Respect Badge
For schools who have taken part in our Anti-Bullying Ambassador Programme, why not begin working towards our Respect badge? Earning the Respect badge is a fantastic way to showcase all the hard work your students put into creating a safer, kinder school environment. Find out more about the Respect Badge here.
We hope this resource has sparked ideas on how you can tackle racist bullying behaviour in your school. For further resources and support, head to our Resource Centre and Support Centre and why not book onto an Aftercare call soon (for trained schools) to talk through your campaign ideas further?