School liaison officer puts hate crime on the curriculum
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Hate crime was back on the agenda on Easter Monday (April 22) as the country was encouraged to come together and support the first national Stephen Lawrence Day.
Marking the 26th anniversary of her son’s murder, Baroness Doreen Lawrence said she would like to see British schools put the values of respect and fairness at the heart of the curriculum to encourage future generations to build a better society.
This is a sentiment which is shared by Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Steve Coles, who has been delivering a workshop on hate crime to all Year 7 students in Corby for the past two years.
The PCSO, who is the School Liaison Officer for the Corby Neighbourhood Policing Team, first started working with students at Lodge Park Academy seven years ago and the workshop has now been developed and rolled out to all five of the town’s secondary schools.
PCSO Coles said: “In 2012, hate crime was the theme of the County Schools Challenge, and as a result I was approached by a teacher at Lodge Park Academy who felt it was important for students to learn about hate crime and have an understanding of how it affects individuals and society.
“We originally set up a Dragon’s Den type competition for students in Year 7, and have successfully sustained the programme for the past seven years, which means the whole school has now completed it.
“We were then approached by Kingswood Secondary Academy that wanted to do something similar. Two years ago we created a new workshop which we deliver to all Year 7 students in the town.”
The one-hour session focuses on three key words – prejudice, discrimination and perception – with the main aim to ensure students understand the meaning of the words.
As part of the workshop, students learn about stereotypes and why these can have an impact on hate crime, what influences our perception of people as well as find out how and where they can report incidents.
PCSO Coles added: “There are so many factors which influence our perception of others including our family and friends, through education and travelling or by learning about different cultures within our own communities and we do some work with primary schools in partnership with Corby Borough Council.
“We aim the workshop, which is more technical as it goes into the background of the legislation as well as the legal definition of a hate incident, at Year 7 students. This is because the students are at an age where they are not only old enough to start learning about the topic but more importantly to understand it.”
Last week (April 22-26), Northamptonshire Police supported Stephen Lawrence Day, which aimed to encourage young people to live their best life, and invited the public to inspire others by helping to create trees of pledges which are now on display at Force Headquarters.
Stephen was just 18-years-old when he was murdered in an unprovoked racially motivated attack as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, South East London on April 22, 1993.
His death became one of the highest profile racial killings and a watershed moment in UK history, which not only changed society’s attitude towards race relations but also had a positive impact in British law and police practices.