Surveys of racist attitudes and behaviour in British schools suggest that the problem is both serious and widespread. In Manchester, for example, 48 per cent of children (in three secondary schools studied) said they had seen 'racial fights' and 77 per cent had heard racial name-calling (Macdonald et al., 1989). Name-calling was more frequently reported by pupils from black and Asian ethnic groups (76 per cent had been 'called names which made them angry or miserable') than by white pupils (64 per cent). When asked about fighting, 79 per cent of Afro-Caribbean boys reported being picked upon physically, compared to 70 per cent of Asian boys and 62 per cent of white boys. For girls, fighting was most frequent among Asians (70 compared to 43 per cent for the female sample as a whole).
Name-calling and physical hurt are also the most frequently reported behaviours in studies of school bullying (Whitney and Smith, 1993): one might therefore expect that the recent proliferation of literature on bullying might enable a more detailed analysis of this racism.
However, anti-racist education in Britain has not been well served by researchers into bullying in schools. Loach and Bloor (1995) even argue that anti-bullying work is itself racist, since the term bullying provides a smokescreen behind which all manner of abuses -- including racism, sexism, homophobia and other 'isms' -- can be hidden. To focus on the overt aspects of bullying behaviour, they claim, is to ignore the background dynamics of personal and social relationships, which means that the behaviour can never really be understood. How valid is this criticism?
It is certainly true that few studies of bullying have given much emphasis to the racial dimension, and the larger studies are particularly lacking in this regard. The questionnaire used in the DfEE Sheffield...