Racism is still prevalent in the UK with many young people casually expressing discriminatory views, a new report has revealed.
The report by the Trust for London and the Runneymede Trust shows that very little work has been done to prevent racist violence.
The zero-tolerance approach used in the classroom and youth clubs is failing and driving racism underground, the report shows.
It also emerges that most perpetrators of racist violence are young, white males.
At the same time, lots of young people are ‘at risk’ of perpetrating racist violence, not just those involved with gangs.
Preventative work, according to the report, reduces harm and financial costs.
Youth workers and teachers need appropriate skills, tools and confidence to tackle racism effectively, the report recommends.
Three projects around London, in Greenwich, Bexley and Barking and Dagenham are developing ways to tackle racism by creating platforms for young people to discuss difficult issues of racism and identity.
Working with Men, based in Greenwich ran a six week programme on conflict resolution in Greenwich College. Through group exercises and sports sessions Working with Men covered issues of identity, culture and coping with violence. Those seen as the most problematic students were given ‘supervisor’ roles within the common room to build their leadership and problem solving skills.
Bexley based project, Leap Confronting Conflict took a youth led approach to working on racial and identity issues, recruiting young volunteers as peer educators who have then gone on to undertake a variety of initiatives in their local area on issues of racism and identity.
Bharat Mehta, chief executive of the Trust for London, which funded the study, said: “The work has shown that many people hold racist views but the issue of racism has become such a difficult one in our society that individuals will go to great lengths to avoid having their views or what they say labelled as racist.” He added that zero tolerance “does not work and only serves to push the problem underground.”
Sarah Isal, deputy director of the Runnymede Trust, a think-tank that specialises in research about race, added: “What the projects did find is that racist views are still very much prevalent among young people and there is a climate of intolerance with negative stereotyping relating to specific groups.”