Thousands of primary school children have been branded as racist or homophobic because of childish playground name calling.
Even some toddlers in nursery schools have had their names recorded on ‘hate incident’ registers.
In a twelve month period in 2008-09 teachers recorded more than 10,000 incidents of primary school children making homophobic or racist remarks.
Commenting on the figures an editorial in the Daily Mail said: “Yes, it’s regrettable that small children through the ages have hurled silly or hurtful insults at each other – often before they understand what they mean.
“But won’t a ticking-off do? Is the answer really to register these ‘hate crimes’ (a distinctly adult obsession) on the children’s school files and report even trivial incidents to the authorities?”
The figures were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, and are discussed in a new report by the Manifesto Club, a civil liberties group.
Adrian Hart, the report’s author, said: “I feel that childhood itself is under attack. It’s absolutely the case that these policies misunderstand children quite profoundly.
“Racist incident reporting generates the illusion of a problem with racism in Britain’s schools by trawling the everyday world of playground banter, teasing, childish insults – the sort of things that every teacher knows happens out there in the playground.”
School heads were first told to keep records of racist incidents in 2002, and in 2007 they were advised to include disability-related and homophobic bullying in their tallies.
Last year it was revealed that children as young as five were set to be added to compulsory ‘hate registers’ for using playground insults.
Under Labour’s plans even minor ‘hate incidents’ would have been logged and details of incidents would have remained on the child’s file until they left secondary school.
However, the coalition Government is reviewing this policy.