Ethnicity-based bullying a 'daily reality' at school, curriculum 'denying' darker parts of Canadian history: survey
About six-in-10 Canadian kids have witnessed bullying based on race or ethnicity while at school, a survey from B.C. researchers suggests.
The survey conducted in partnership with the University of British Columbia found 58 per cent of respondents had seen this type of bullying in some way.
According to the results of the Angus Reid Institute poll, 14 per cent of youth have experienced it themselves. Children who identified as being part of a visible minority were three times as likely to say they'd been targeted.
UBC researchers said in a news release outlining the results that Indigenous children were twice as likely as white youth to say they'd been the target of race- or ethnicity-based bullying.
And when asked whether teachers were intervening, one-quarter said they either ignored racist behaviour or were oblivious to it.
The university's president, Santa Ono, said in the release he's hopeful the study will lead to further conversation.
"No child should ever experience bullying and exclusion because of their race and ethnicity, but sadly, this study finds that racism is a daily reality for many Canadian children," Ono said.
Nearly 60 per cent said they were able to move past the bullying they'd experienced, or that it didn't bother them, but the other portion of respondents said they carried it with them for a time after the actual event occurred.
An associate professor at UBC's department of history described the findings as "disturbing," but Henry Yu said in the release it was even more upsetting to him what the survey suggested kids are not learning in school.
Respondents were asked about topics that may be part of Canadian history lessons.
Nearly as many kids said they'd learned nothing about racism in Canada as those who said they'd learned a lot. Asked specifically, one-third said they knew nothing about slavery in Canada, and half hadn't been taught about the internment of Japanese Canadians in the Second World War, the results showed.
Most reported they'd learned something about residential schools, Indigenous treaties and land claims, according to UBC.
But kids were also asked whether they'd been taught about the Komagata Maru ship and the head tax on Chinese immigrants, and a majority answered "no" to each.
By region, kids and teens living in the Prairie provinces were most likely to say they'd learned about residential schools, multiculturalism, the Charter or Rights and Freedoms and racism in Canada throughout history.
Yu cited this as evidence of what he called a "national problem with ignoring or denying racism."
"If more than half of our children have never learned even the basics of Canada's long history of racism, we will never solve this ongoing problem."
Angus Reid surveyed 872 Canadian children and teens, aged 12 to 17, online between Aug. 24 and 27. The margin of error of the poll of a representative randomized sample of kids whose parents are part of the Angus Reid Forum is three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
At UBC, those behind the survey hope the results prompt changes to curriculums in Canada that provide a more comprehensive understanding of what happened, not just details of a few events.
According to the survey, those in more diverse schools were more likely to have learned about racism and multiculturalism than those who went to school with kids mostly of the same background.
A bright spot in the research is that most children said they had someone to talk to when they experienced issues including bullying. About 90 per cent said they were able to talk to family.