In Ottawa on Feb. 18, Melissa Mui posted online about two kids who called their classmates “dirty ch–ks” and chased them home.
Mayor Jim Watson first spoke of these issues to reporters on March 6 of last year, when COVID-19 restrictions were taking place internationally. “Early on, we saw some unfortunate comments, bordering on racism, in terms of kids treating Chinese kids differently in school yards and so on,” Watson said.
Eight months later on CBC’s All in Day on Nov. 18, host Alan Neal said his own six-year-old daughter came home from school one day and asked if Asian people were responsible for COVID-19, seemingly passing on something she’d heard at school.
Carleton University Professor of Sociology Xiaobei Chen confirmed “children (were) being bullied, being called names, then being harassed.”
It’s often been said that children repeat what they hear at home. So what does this say about Ottawa? How are parents and caregivers talking about the pandemic in their homes and to their kids?
And in general, how are teachers on the ground actually addressing regular cases of bullying based on prejudice and discrimination when these take place? For example, apart from wearing pink once a year, what do teachers do to address bullying associated with homophobia and misogyny – issues that seem to be amplified in school settings?
From the interactions I’ve seen with middle and high school students these days, misogyny – such as sexualizing and demeaning young girls – and queerphobia – for instance, using the word “gay” as a derogatory term – are still alive, along with the general exclusion and othering of students.
The report acknowledged that, despite the existence of the Ontario Human Rights Code, “oppression and discrimination still exist within our systems,” built upon factors such as race, religion and sexual orientation. Bullying occurs in schools and racism, it says, is displayed in areas such as the lack of racialized employees in staffing and leadership, a Eurocentric curriculum and high suspension rates of Indigenous and Black students.
This content was originally published here.