Council admits racially discriminating against two boys over Prevent toy gun referral

Date: 7th February 2017
Category: Non-discrimination

A local education authority in England has admitted to racially discriminating against two brothers, aged seven and five, after one of them told their teacher that he had been given a toy gun as a present. Prevent is a UK-wide strategy including Scotland.

Although it was never doubted that the weapon was a toy, the school raised concerns that the children might be at risk of radicalisation and called the police, who quickly concluded that there was no cause for concern and returned the children to their mother.

Governors for the school found that teachers were unsure about their duties to report concerns under Prevent, the government's controversial anti-radicalisation strategy, and had resorted to "a degree of racial stereotyping" in implementing the strategy.

The local education authority has now changed its guidance to schools on Prevent, removing the requirement that they refer any radicalisation concerns to the police and instructing teachers to exercise their professional judgment and consider other options instead. Many opponents of Prevent view the incident as an inevitable consequence of the strategy, which essentially requires teachers to be suspicious of their young pupils.

Together's 2016 recommendation from the State of Children's Rights report advises that:

"Scottish Government should assess measures taken to counter terrorism in terms of their impact on children's rights. Measures should be developed in collaboration with those children most likely to be affected and be monitored, evaluated and reviewed on an ongoing basis."