CHILDLINE ADVICE: Take a chance to start talking about race and diversity
Our Childline counsellors speak to children every day who have concerns about all kinds of topics, including abuse, neglect and racism.
It’s natural to want to shield children from discussions of these potentially upsetting matters, but it’s also important to discuss these issues, so as we mark Black History Month, this is an opportunity to start vital conversations about race and diversity.
By celebrating the influence and achievements of Black people everywhere, we can help young people reflect and understand what racism is. More importantly, we can help them understand what they can do if they experience it or see it happening.
This summer, millions of children in the UK watched the England team take the knee before matches as they called on people to speak out against any form of racism, and to respect everyone, no matter the colour of their skin.
When a child is bullied or treated differently because of their race, they can become isolated, depressed, angry or even feel shame about the way they look. That’s why it’s important we take the opportunity Black History Month affords us to have positive and open conversations about race and racism with young people. Just having that discussion can help a child feel more comfortable sharing how they’re feeling with you, and to confide in you if they’ve experienced or seen racial abuse.
Children’s views are influenced by friends and family, communities, school and what they see and read in the media, and racism can begin as a reaction to world news.
At Childline, we know the pandemic has made things worse for some young people, who have told us that they or their families are being hurt, bullied or even attacked.
Whatever’s going on in the world, children shouldn’t have to cope alone. That’s why we’re here.
For further support, children can always use the moderated Childline message boards to talk with their peers and they can always speak to a counsellor over the phone on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk for advice.
There’s also advice for parents on how to have conversations about racism at www.nspcc.org.uk