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Racist language in the schoolyard

(24 Posts)
cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 11:46:21

Child Y, age 10 yesterday got into some trouble in the schoolyard, another boy was squaring up to him, surrounded by a bunch of children, Y loses his temper and shouts in anger, the N word.
This is heard by a TA and reported.
The deputy head deals with the situation, Y gets a missed play, letter and phone call home. Deputy head asks Y if there were any black children there, he says yes and names a child X who is asian (not the boy who was squaring up to him who is white)
Child X is then brought out of class and Y is asked to apologise to him, which he does.
Child X was a bystander, along with a lot of other children

I am horrified that my son (child Y) would use this language. On discussing it with him I am sure that he did not know the meaning or offensiveness of the word and that it was not said with racist intent. (he does now!)

I understand and agree that this behaviour and language needs to be nipped in the bud and not tolerated.

I am worried that asking DS to apologise to a child who was (alongside many other children) standing by has made a child (X) who'd possibly never experienced racism think that they had in this situation.

I'd be really interested to hear opinions please - not of the language use in the first place - I am horrified enough already about that - but in the schools subsequent actions

intheknickersoftime Fri 14-Oct-16 11:57:21

I'm struggling to see an issue in how the school handled it to be honest. The last school I worked in I heard several year 5 and 6 children call each other nigger even if they were white. I was baffled by it but I think I handled it in a similar way. It's a teaching opportunity, you took the opportunity to talk to your son. Hopefully it won't happen again. I hope I've understood correctly that your son is the one who used the word. He has to understand the wider implications of using such language and that there are consequences. And the school has a duty to safeguard children from racist language. I do feel for you though. Keep talking to him, this topic should be a constant dialogue as it will effect on how he interacts as an adult in society.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 11:58:32

My issue is that a single asian child was singled out for an apology

intheknickersoftime Fri 14-Oct-16 12:01:11

But he heard the word didn't he? Have I got that right?. The head was using the opportunity to teach your son that such language has a detrimental effect on how the whole school culture and can't be tolerated.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:07:19

He heard the word (it wasn't directed at him)
But so did a number of other children - so why not apologise to them too?
I agree that it was an opportunity to teach the detrimental effects such language can have but the child (X) was not a target iyswim, he was a bystander like all the other kids.
I just feel that by singling out this one child out will have made that child feel like maybe it HAD been directed at him. I

BertrandRussell Fri 14-Oct-16 12:10:46

What if he had used a misogynist term?

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:12:32

To clarify, I don't have problem with my son having to apologise.
its the fact of a child being singled out (because he is not white) for the apology, when he was a bystander not actively involved in the incident.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:14:33

If he used a mysogynist term then I would expect him to be reprimanded in the same way and I would have a similar, robust conversation with him about what the term means and why it's not acceptable.

BertrandRussell Fri 14-Oct-16 12:18:59

But would you have expected him to apologize in particular to any girls present?

redskytonight Fri 14-Oct-16 12:21:05

He was involved in the incident though ... he had to listen to your son use a word that he would have found personally offensive.

Or to put it another way. I am half Asian. At school I was often directly called "Paki" as an insult.
I also was a witness to other children talking between themselves using "Paki" in an offensive way.

The 1st might have been worse, but the 2nd was bad too. I totally applaud your school for considering who your son might have upset and getting him to apologise.

claraschu Fri 14-Oct-16 12:26:16

I understand what you are saying. You are coming from the point of view that throwing offensive terms around is unpleasant for everyone. You don't want the Asian child to feel singled out by the school, as he didn't initially feel singled out by the offensive remark.

I think it is good for schools to take a high moral tone and assume that everyone is equally offended by racism, misogyny, homophobia, not just women, minorities, gay people, etc.

On the other hand, you might not know the feelings of the Asian student (is it possible he has actually experienced racism, and feels sensitive about it?), so I wouldn't focus on this too much.

Sounds like you are all handling it very well, and your son didn't understand that these words are overcharged with meaning. I would just focus on making sure he understands how poisonous this stuff is.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:29:54

Thats a thought provoking point. I'm not sure. If it was directed at a specific girl I would most definitely expect him to apologise to her.
I think there is a difference though. If you are using derogatory language about women, its pretty obvious who the women are.
If you're using a specific racist term then is that that term is offensive to only those to whom the term originated to denigrate? Which in this case would be black people. In which case this is term any more offensive to a by standing asian boy than a white boy, given the circumstance which is that the term was not aimed at anyone in particular. In fact if it was thought to be directed (my son says not - he just shouted out because he was angry) then surely its the boy who was squaring up to him that was owed an apology.

admission Fri 14-Oct-16 12:30:06

I believe that the school handled this correctly from what I gather from the various posts.
My only slight concern is how the apology was handled in terms of the other asian child and his parents. Done rightly the school have reinforced to every body in the school, including parents, that the school will not accept any racist behaviour. If it has been done poorly, which I hope is not the case, then it might just give all children the idea that they have a ready made excuse for anything that they do wrong - he called me a name which is why I hit him etc.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:35:46

As far as I know (from my son's account - I have meeting later with school) the boy in question was not bothered by the incident. Obv I shall make sure this is the case later! I get the impression he was not asked if he had been affected, just brought out of class for the apology.
redsky - do you think you find the term in question more offensive than a white person because you are half asian?
Thanks for the opinions, its great to get another perspective on it.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 12:37:45

admission - My worries are totally from the perspective of the asian child and his family.

irvineoneohone Fri 14-Oct-16 12:44:22

I would be worried where he learned/heard that word. Are they using those words among friends without knowing the true offensiveness of it at school? Is your ds was a unlucky case because it was heard by a ta? Otherwise it just went on without school realising?
That would be my first concern if my ds ever said something like that.

redskytonight Fri 14-Oct-16 12:46:54

cakes well I can't answer for how offensive a white person would find it ... but I guess it feels personally offensive as opposed to generally offensive iyswim.

Backingvocals Fri 14-Oct-16 12:56:17

You've actually made me realise I need to raise this somehow at home. My DCs have likely never heard this word. I've never heard it used other than in a discussion about its use - reclaiming it vs not reclaiming it etc.

My worry would be them picking up on it without any knowledge of it (like what your son did ) and really getting into trouble. I guess I have to tell them about these words somehow.

I remember doing the same with the word poof as a child. No idea what it meant but knew it was mean. My mum put me right before I used it in public.

cakesandchocolate Fri 14-Oct-16 13:07:34

irvine - My son says his brother (who's now 12) told him it 'years ago, when he was about 8'. Older brother has no recollection of this. both of them (independently) say its not a word they've used or discussed other than this one time that the younger one is putting it down to. I don't think its a term used at school.
Backing - the whole reclaiming the word discussion was really difficult to get across! I tried.. And its hard to tackle these things before they become an issue because it feels you're robbing their naivety if they've never heard these words. Ive tried to do it in a generic way and say don't words you don't know the meaning of and if you hear words come and ask me and I will explain!

Backingvocals Fri 14-Oct-16 13:20:24

Yes exactly cakes.

"Here are some words you don't know. You must never use them...".

shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 14-Oct-16 13:35:53

I can see what you mean about the boy feeling particularly singled out but I think that it is better to make sure that he was not upset by it.

I would also maybe ask if they can cover swearing and name calling etc at school in PSHE. I think that by 10 they should be old enough to identify a swear word and not use it but ask an adult what it means. We have come across a few in books and used it as an opportunity to discuss appropriate use.

It is tricky as you don't want to take away innocence. Mine still think that the 's word' is 'sexy' but they do know the 'n word' from Hucklebury Finn.

ThatStewie Fri 14-Oct-16 13:51:43

I think it's safe to assume that the 10 year old boy will have experienced racism by now. It's constant and on the increase since Brexit. It's good the school made your son apologise because it is weird that he chose that word as opposed to any other in that situation. The school may also have a very different perspective on this than your son and you may find that there have been a number of incidents involving racist language recently and that the school is working at ensuring that the children truly understand the consequences of their language.

irvineoneohone Fri 14-Oct-16 14:58:02

" its not a word they've used or discussed other than this one time"

If that's true, it's a very odd choice of word comes out in extreme frustration, IMO.

CookieDoughKid Sat 15-Oct-16 19:27:54

I think your school handled it very very well indeed. I am applauding them. Can't see what the problem is now. It's been delt with and your son has learnt his lesson. So don't worry, most kids would have forgotten about it by now anyway!

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