09 July 2008

Toddlers who dislike spicy food 'racist'

This has got to be one of the silliest stories I've read in a while. I don't doubt that the reporting newspaper has an angle on the story, they always do. But even allowing for that spin, this is just nuts:
The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.

It alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can "recognise different people in their lives".

The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."

It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: "blackie", "Pakis", "those people" or "they smell".

The guide goes on to warn that children might also "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'".

Staff are told: "No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action."

Warning that failing to pick children up on their racist attitudes could instil prejudice, the NCB adds that 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 incidents as possible to their local council. The guide added: "Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution. In fact, the opposite is the case."

This is just so silly, I'm struggling to find words to adequately describe how it makes me feel. If I heard anyone telling me that a child of mine was racist just because he/she didn't like spicy food I would be very upset!

Aside from the silliness there is a serious issue underneath this report. People being judged in a pre-determined manner just because of how they react to something is pretty dangerous. It groups people under a certain label, whether they fit that label or not. It doesn't leave room for common sense, and that is something that people seem to have a lot less of these days.


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