Outrage as 'Black children are over-policed in schools' 2 months ago

Outrage as 'Black children are over-policed in schools'

The report highlighted the Child Q scandal earlier this year as an example of the 'adultification' that Black children experience in school

A new report has found that Black children are more likely to face tougher punishments at school because they are viewed as more adult-like.

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The Commission on Young Lives in England concluded that Black children go through a process of "adultification" and are therefore viewed as "less innocent."

This can lead to them feeling unsafe and being disciplined more harshly in school - leading to them being more likely to be excluded.

Former children's commissioner Anne Longfield chaired the commission, and has called for a ban on primary school exclusions from 2026 and for secondary schools to make a greater effort to reduce exclusions.

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The report highlighted one case of a boy who was suspended 17 times while in reception class.

His mother told the report: "The school said there was defiance and violence, but he was literally tiny."

The boy was later diagnosed with autism.

“A system that has no real accountability for a five-year-old boy being excluded 17 times in a year, or where a vulnerable teenager is out of school for months or even years, is not a system that is working for every child,” Longfield said.

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The report also highlighted the shocking case of Child Q, a 15-year-old girl who was strip-searched by Met Police officers, as an example of adultification.

"The recent abhorrent treatment of Child Q, a teenage girl who was left traumatised after being strip-searched at school by Met police officers while on her period, is a recent shocking example of how adultification can happen in educational settings," the report says.

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It adds that adultification can "manifest itself by black students being disproportionately targeted by 'draconian' zero-tolerance behaviour and uniform policies in schools".

Jahnine Davis, director of child-protection company Listen Up, told the BBC: "Black children are at a greater risk of experiencing this form of bias, due to preconceived ideas about black children being aggressive, deviant, and almost needing to be safeguarded from, rather then safeguarded."

She added that to understand the adultification of black girls, society must "look at the history, which is rooted in slavery and colonialism."

Other recommendations from the report included better race-equality teacher training, a more inclusive curriculum to tackle racial discrimination, and more black teachers in classrooms and leadership roles.

Although about a third of state-school pupils belong to an ethnic minority, more than 90n percent of teaching staff are white.

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Longfield said that whilst not all children will be affected, the statistics "show that too many will - even more so if the child has special educational needs or is black."

“Look behind the headlines of the tragic deaths, acts of serious violence and criminal exploitation of our young people over recent years and so often you see a pattern of children disengaging and falling out of school and into harm,” she said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We are looking into what more we can do to make sure all students feel safe in their school.

"We have strengthened our safeguarding guidance and extended it to all schools and post-16 settings - staff should receive regular safeguarding training to improve their confidence in managing sensitive situations."

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