Children as young as five will be added to compulsory ‘hate registers’ for using playground insults under new plans by Government ministers.
Earlier this week it was revealed that a ten-year-old schoolboy called Peter Drury was added to his school’s hate register for calling his friend “gay boy” outside school.
Traditionally teachers have been able to curb such behaviour by telling off pupils who use unacceptable language.
But under the new plans even minor ‘hate incidents’ will have to be logged and details of the incident will remain on file until the child leaves secondary school.
Critics are concerned that teasing among children could be perceived as racist and homophobic when no malice was intended.
Margaret Morrissey, founder of the campaign group Parents Outloud, said: “This is totally appalling. The use of such language is part of the learning process.
“Children need to learn where the boundaries lie. And I very much doubt they understand what they are saying.
“This does not mean that the behaviour shouldn’t be challenged. It must be explained that it is wrong. But to keep a register that will haunt them for years to come is going far too far and is against all rights.”
Dr Michele Elliott, director of the charity Kidscape, said: “Children are being criminalised and singled out here from a very early age when they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe commented: “Abuse in the playground has always happened and always will.
“Children have to learn to take this as part of growing up and you can’t punish children for doing something they don’t understand while they are very young.”
Government ministers plan to make the recording of ‘hate taunting’ a legal requirement for every school and local authority in the country from September.
Teachers will be required to record even minor incidents of language deemed racist or homophobic, even if the child doesn’t understand what the words mean.
The registers could have a devastating effect on young children.
Mrs Penny Drury, whose ten-year-old son was added to his school’s ‘hate register’, said: “He doesn’t even understand about the birds and the bees, so how can he be homophobic?”
“Peter is a very naive boy who didn’t know what he was doing and is now very upset as he is now in trouble.
“It doesn’t mean he is going to turn into a homophobic attacker when he is older.
“He must have picked up the word from somewhere and thought it to mean stupid.”
Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: “The majority of schools already record incidents of bullying.
“However, we want to make sure that all schools have measures in place to prevent and tackle bullying and show they are taking it seriously.”
In December it was revealed that children as young as five would be taught about transsexual rights under Government guidelines.
The Government says its guidance is aimed at tackling ‘gender bullying’.