Explain ways in which children and young people can experience prejudice and discrimination.
Prejudice and discrimination are linked, however they are different terms, prejudice comprises of preconceived negative thoughts or beliefs about individuals who belong to a particular group, whereas discrimination is bigoted behaviour or action that is motivated by unfair beliefs. Both discrimination and prejudice can take a range of forms and can take place for a multitude of reasons and usually occurs through lack of knowledge and an understanding of diversity, every childcare professional must be conscious of the fact that a child or young person will experience some form of prejudice or discrimination against them throughout their time in school, a child may be discriminated against for any reason; because of their size, the fact that they wear glasses, the colour of their skin or even their hair, religious beliefs, cultural or ethnic tradition. Children and young people are most likely to discriminate against other children because of the prejudice approach they may hold, these may include not playing or associating with traveller children because it is believed that they are dirty or smelly, a child who has a disability may be assumed to have learning difficulties
All children and young people have the right to be treated equally irrespective of their race, colour of their skin, religion or ability, all children and young people have a need to develop and grow into mature young adults without being exposed to bigotry and discrimination, this can be helped by allowing them to explore and discover other people’s cultures, beliefs and the things around them, in order to do this adults need to educate and teach children to understand and respect other people’s differences and the diversity of the nation. Children and young people learn their attitudes from the grown-ups around them at an early age and we may all have ways of thinking and acting that may seem natural to us but are not necessarily what we would want to pass on to children and if we do not look and examine our own attitudes and beliefs they may become damaging to the children we are surrounded by, therefore it is important to make sure that we as adults show children the positive ways in which to interact with the world in which they live in.
Children are now growing up in a time when the cultural and ethnic structure of our country is quickly changing and in some areas groups of people who were formally considered as the ‘ethnic’ minority make up the majority of the population. Children and young people can now learn and understand about different cultures and beliefs through the media and within their own school and by talking openly and positively about race, religion, ethnicity and cultural comparisons and differences will only benefit children in their understanding and development of a healthy social attitude.
Prejudice and discrimination can generate social and emotional tension amongst children and by not educating and teaching children the differences between other cultures and beliefs in a positive manner from an early age may lead to resentment and hostility in later life towards other cultures. Those children who suffer prejudice and ridicule will feel demoralised and rejected which will not only destroy their self esteem and self confidence but have a devastating effect on their education, social and emotional development. This can have a demoralizing effect on some people in later life; the lack of motivation, the ability to form relationships, their inability to hold down jobs. Alternatively, children who experience prejudice and discrimination in their early life may grow up with a feeling of empowerment to strive for what they believe in and fight for the rights of others.
Our own backgrounds and upbringing can have a major effect on how we view society or the people around us, our own experiences with certain individuals or groups may result in viewing individuals in a certain way and personal prejudices that we have held in the past could lead to a biased practice, as adults we all have our own individual attitudes, morals and may sometimes show signs of behaviour that may seem normal and accepting to us as adults but not to children and young people, therefore we need to be aware of these by making sure we do not pass these attitudes onto the children and young people in our care. This can be overcome by developing a greater understanding of diverse groups within our society and learning about the different values and beliefs of the children we work with. Not only do we need to be respectful of other beliefs and cultures but we also need to exhibit a good professional attitude in class and around school by demonstrating acceptable behaviour towards both adults and children, using good manners such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and instilling these into the children we work with. I personally display a supportive and helpful attitude at all times in school either as a teaching assistant or midday assistant and by showing this to the children allows them to approach me if they have any problems or need someone to talk to.
Explain how to promote anti-discriminatory practice in work with children and young people.
Every member of staff is responsible for ensuring that anti-discriminatory practice is endorsed in school and to identify when discrimination is occurring. The Children Act 2004 requires early years and other childcare facilities to promote an anti-discriminatory practice within that setting and also requires all adults who work with children to promote a child’s needs with paramount importance. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the framework which allows young children to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, it sets standards for; the education, growth and care that children should experience; equality of opportunity for every child and anti-discriminatory practice; partnership working; improving quality and consistency and lays a secure foundation for future learning for children. Within Parkhill School there are many children who originate from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, most of these children use English as an additional language so it is important that communication is effective by taking into account the child’s age, culture and understanding. We have an EAL co-coordinator in school and other teaching assistants who speak additional languages who will translate on behalf of the parents that do not speak English and are available for the parents and their child as part of a support network within our school, as well as helping to fill in any necessary forms or documents the EAL coordinator will read any important letters and relay any issues on a child’s development or achievements. When working in a school that has such a diverse cultural difference it is vital that a genuine interest is shown in a child’s lifestyle in order for the child to feel appreciated and valued and to recognize the differences in all cultures as well as sharing possible comparisons that we may have; children in all key stages have learnt about many different cultures, celebrations and festivals such as Diwali, Ramadan, Eid, Hanukah and Christmas, parents may visit school during these festivals and give children an insight into what their child may do during these religious events. Parkhill School also encourages that all children are given equal access to the school’s curriculum and every child within the school is encouraged to fully participate in all the activities whatever their gender or ethnic background, resources are provided that deliver positive images with regard to gender, race, faith, ability and social background
Discrimination is a harmful way in which another person is treated and should never be ignored or excused any more than we would tolerate physical or mental abuse on ourselves. Discrimination must be challenged immediately and dealt with, if we disregard this type of behaviour and it is not addressed then we are condoning the actions of another person and accepting the fact that is ‘okay’ to speak or behave in that manner.
In order to promote change we need to change people’s attitude toward other cultures, races, sexuality and faiths by trying to educate children in school about being a part of the many different cultures, faiths and disabilities in our society and encourage them to think of other people’s feelings and how they would feel if they were the one who was being discriminated against. By understanding how hurtful discrimination can be will only benefit us all as human beings and arm us with the knowledge and enable us to work together as one. It may be difficult and awkward to challenge any type of discrimination, particularly if we were to witness it from a colleague in school so it is vital that we consider how to deal with difficult situations like this, personally I would look at the policies and procedures of the setting, by doing this I would feel more confident and in control of the situation and be able to deal more effectively with situations of this kind if they were to arise. If I were to overhear a comment from a child then I would handle the situation in a entirely different manner, small children often make remarks without actually knowing what they mean therefore talking and explaining to them about the consequences of ‘hurting someone’s feelings’ or ‘making someone sad’ will usually resolve the situation.