Racism is when someone is treated differently because of their race or culture. It can include things like calling people names or excluding them and even denying them service at a business or things like job opportunities. It’s illegal in the UK to discriminate against (treat differently) someone because of their race.
If you or someone you know is experiencing racism, you can get help to make this stop.
Don’t take the abuse
Everyone, no matter what their nationality or race is, has a right to live happily and free from discrimination. If you feel someone’s being racist towards you, Childline has information about what steps you can take. The main thing is to walk away, keep safe and talk to someone you trust. You don’t need to retaliate or respond.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against unlawfully, for example, at work or by a business, you can find out your rights at Citizens Advice.
If someone is being racist towards you, the most important thing is your safety. If you feel vulnerable, stick with groups of friends you trust.
If you or someone you know is in immediate or life-threatening danger, dial 999.
Remember, you’re not the one causing trouble. You’ve done nothing wrong.
Keep a diary of what’s been happening and save any texts or messages to show others how it is affecting you and what support you need. If you take action, any evidence you can gather will help your case.
Speak to your teachers, youth workers, friends and/or family about what’s going on so that you can get their help and support. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, Childline has useful information about how to ask an adult for help.
You can report racist incidents to Police Scotland by visiting your local police station, filling out an online form or by calling 101.
Citizen’s Advice Scotland has more information about what happens when you report an incident, what information you’ll be asked for and what might happen after the incident has been reported. When you report the incident you should ask for the incident reference number.
If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English, you can ask the police to provide an interpreter – they must provide you with one.
Remember: you don’t have to be the race or culture that someone has assumed you are when they say or do something to you in order for it to be a hate crime or incident. Find out more about hate crime and incidents and how to report them.
Stay safe online
If you’re experiencing abuse online, you can always report it using the ‘report abuse’ button on most social media platforms. Make sure your privacy settings are secure, too. The UK Safer Internet Centre has some resources including guides on how to make sure each of your social media accounts is private and secure.
You can also block individual people if they’re harassing or bullying you. We’ve got a handy guide on how to block people on every social media platform.
The charity Glitch have a useful resource to help you document any online abuse which can be used as evidence if you later make a report to the police.
Get others involved
Just talking about racism is a big part of fighting it. You could start an anti-racism project or newsletter at your school/youth group or set up a discussion group to talk about relevant issues and what you can do to help.
Never give up!
You might not be able to tackle racism by yourself but we can all play a part. Challenging racism when you see it (without putting yourself at risk) and reporting it helps to make other people see it’s not okay.
If you see or hear someone being racist towards someone else, you can help to support that person. Just asking if they’re okay and letting them know that what you saw was wrong can really help. You could help them to report it if they want and offer to be a witness. This is called Third Party Reporting.
If you feel comfortable and the situation means it’s safe to do so, you can also challenge racism when you see it by saying you don’t agree with it.
Action on Prejudice has a resource, called Speak Up, to help you understand how you can be what is called an active bystander, this means when someone sees conflict or unacceptable behaviour they take steps that can make a difference in a safe and appropriate way.