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Children and young people share their experiences of racism and ideas to end it

Racism is a persistent presence in the lives of many children and young people in Aotearoa New Zealand and they have high aspirations and practical solutions to end it, a new report shows.

“Without racism Aotearoa would be better”: Mokopuna share their experiences of racism and solutions to end it, released today by Mana Mokopuna – Children and Young People’s Commission, is a new mokopuna voices report.

As an independent advocate for all mokopuna in Aotearoa New Zealand, an important aspect of the Commission’s work is encouraging children and young people’s participation and voices and sharing their views.

The report published today includes insights gathered through face-to-face engagements with 161 young people across the country from September 2022 – June 2023, who shared their deep lived experiences of racism and how it is a barrier to living their best lives.

In their own words, mokopuna share in the report that they experience racism and discrimination in both explicit and subtle ways, such as people judging them or making assumptions about their whānau and their culture. They share that racism can take the form of bullying and is experienced by them at a systemic, community, whānau and individual levels.

Chief Children’s Commissioner Dr Claire Achmad says the report, released on Race Relations Day, is an opportunity to give careful consideration to young people’s experiences and ideas on this important issue affecting their everyday lives.

“When we asked mokopuna to come up with solutions to eliminate racism across the motu, many shared their aspirations that future generations would not have to grow up experiencing it.

“They are also clearly saying that they want adults to truly listen to their experiences and solutions and take them seriously, and that action to end racism is essential.

“Today is Race Relations Day and we share these direct voices of mokopuna so they can be heard by decision-makers, people with authority, communities and all New Zealanders. Children and young people have the right to participate in the matters affecting their lives, and we are hearing clearly that racism is an issue that’s negatively affecting mokopuna lives and they’ve got practical, actionable ideas to help end it,” she says.

Both mokopuna Māori and mokopuna tauiwi (non-Māori) said that te ao Māori and te reo Māori are very important in their lives and for their education, and they want learning of te reo Māori to be made compulsory from early childhood through to secondary education.

They also told us that solutions to end racism should be embedded within the education system from its earliest point, and that it must reflect cultural diversity, inclusion and understanding. Mokopuna are calling for diversity to be represented among their teachers and on school boards and advocated for youth-led initiatives to build inclusive environments within schools.

“Children and young people’s solutions look to spark change at the individual, community, societal and systemic levels, and remind us that we each have an important role to play to fulfil their aspirations for an Aotearoa free from racism,” says Dr Achmad.

“I’m inviting everyone to read this new report and take on board what young people are telling us. Let’s work together to build a country where all children and young people can grow up with a strong sense of belonging, be confident in being who they are, and where racism is no longer a barrier to living a good life.”

 

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