How to challenge discrimination in a way that encourages change

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How to challenge discrimination in a way that encourages change

By | April 2012
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Sometimes there are children who will tease others for being different. They may be too young to understand how much of an impact their words or actions will make on another, but no child says or does anything considered mean without knowing that it will cause a negative reaction from another who wears glasses or is fatter, taller or smaller than them. It isn't just teasing, it needs addressing, it needs changing. It is not just “merely teasing” and immediate intervention is necessary. The child must be made to be aware that their words and actions are unkind and unfair. When disciplining the child it might be a good idea to make it personal and say, “how would you feel if child X called you that? What do you think you might be feeling right now?” This causes the child to pause and think about the consequences of their words and actions. If necessary, correct the child. If a child refers to an Indian child for example, as a “Paki” because it is seen as an acceptable word in their household, you could say “actually, child X is an Indian, and please do not use the word “Paki” it is not a nice word to use, do you understand?”

When challenging an adult who has discriminated against another group of society requires a slightly different approach. Time and place is paramount. It is unlikely to be appropriate to speak in front of children, however if the comment was made in front of children then you need to act quickly and show to be firm but polite and calm with regards to the adult's intolerance and that their behaviour or comments were offensive. As with children, you could correct the adult and give them the right information as so they do not cause offence in the future with such comments. Should a person be directly affected by the offensive words and/or actions then you should offer them support and inform them of how you intend to do something about it as so it should not ever happen again.