By Steve Doughty
Toddlers should be taught about racism and singled out for criticism if they have racist attitudes, a Government-funded advisory group said yesterday.
It told nursery teachers, playgroup leaders and childminders to record and report every racist incident involving children as young as three.
These could include saying ‘Yuk’ about unfamiliar food.
Even babies should not be ignored in the hunt for racism because they can ‘recognise different people in their lives’, a new guide for nurseries and child care centres said.
The instructions for staff in charge of pre-school children in day care have been produced by the National Children’s Bureau, which receives £12million a year, mostly through taxpayer-funded organisations.
The NCB, which describes itself as ‘an umbrella body for the children’s sector’, has long used its resources to campaign on controversial issues, for example in favour of a legal ban on smacking by parents.
It also runs the Sex Education Forum, a campaign for more sex education in schools.
The new 366-page guide, Young Children and Racial Justice, warned that ‘racist incidents among children in early years settings-tend to be around name-calling-casual thoughtless comments, and peer group relationships’.
It said such incidents could include children using words like ‘blackie’, ‘Pakis’, ‘those people’ or ‘they smell’.
Children might also ‘react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying “yuk”.’
Nursery staff are told: ‘No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist intent, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action.’
If children ‘reveal negative attitudes the lack of censure may indicate to the child that there is nothing unacceptable about such attitudes’.
Nurseries are encouraged to report as many racist incidents as possible to local councils.
‘Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution,’ it said. ‘In fact, the opposite is the case.’
The guidance said that anyone who disagrees is racist themselves.
Critics of the race programme for pre- school children labelled it ‘totalitarian’.
Author and researcher on family life Patricia Morgan said: ‘Stepping in to stop severe bullying is one thing, but this is interference in the lives of children. It smacks of totalitarianism.
‘It is regulation of private speech and thought. They intend nursery staff to step into children’s playground squabbles and then report them to the local council as race incidents. Who would ever have thought that the anti-racism crusade would go so far?’
A boy of ten has already been taken to court for calling a mixed race 11-year-old ‘Paki’ and ‘Bin Laden’ in a school playground argument.
The pair subsequently made up and became friends again, yet the Crown Prosecution Service decided to go ahead because the victim’s mother made a complaint.
The ten- year- old eventually appeared at Salford Youth Court in 2006 where he denied a racially motivated offence under the Public Order Act of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause another person harm or distress.
But District Judge Jonathan Finestein ordered the authorities to review their decision to prosecute.
Prosecutors later decided not to pursue the case.