Eastern European children in England and Scotland are experiencing rising prejudice since Brexit vote, study finds.
A study conducted by the Universities of Strathclyde, Durham and Plymouth shows that students from Eastern Europe experience increasing levels of racism and xenophobia.
The survey took place between October 2016 and April 2017. In total, 1120 young people completed the survey, with most of them coming from Poland, Romania and Lithuania, which reflects the proportion of non-British nationals in the UK.
The majority (77 percent) of the responders said they had experienced racism because of their nationality, accent or the way they look. Every fifth student experienced the abuse ‘often’ or ‘very often’.
Half of the students (49 percent) said the attacks had become more frequent since the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Character of the abuse
The experiences range from what the survey called ‘everyday racism’ - name calling, jokes over accents, looks or country of origin - to physical aggression on students, their family members and damage to their homes and property.
“Once I was told that I should be working in the dining hall or cleaning their houses as I’m Polish. Obviously that’s a stereotype and I’m pretty sure they were just having a laugh,” a 15-year-old Polish student said.
With most of the attacks happening face-to-face, a significant proportion also took place online .
Commenting on the survey results, one of the authors of the report said that students often do not report the abuse they receive, either “because teachers knew and did not act to counter the culture of racism and xenophobia, or because of their belief that teachers would not be interested.”
Most likely to stay
Asked about their plans for the future following the Brexit vote, a majority of students (75 percent) were determined to stay in the UK as they feel they belong there.
However, several students interviewed emphasised that they are considering leaving due to the general mood towards foreigners in the UK. ‘I don’t want to stay in the country in which I need to hide my nationality to be treated equally,” a 18-year-old Pole said. “I’m learning German now so that my job prospects will not be limited after I finish university and move out of Britain.’