Bullying ‘hate crimes’ at north and north-east schools with racist abuse reported to police

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Police say that bullying at north and north-east schools has reached the stage of being a “hate crime” as children are victimised by classmates for being disabled or having different coloured skin.

Five bullying incidents at schools in Aberdeenshire and the Highlands have received the alarming distinction within the last two years, new figures released by the force show.

One of only five disability-related incidents recorded in Scotland took place in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire, where a youngster was targeted.

The other four instances were linked to race and were investigated in Inverness, Orkney and two parts of Aberdeen.

Last night, one mum whose son was repeatedly abused at an Aberdeen school said she feared classroom bullies felt they could get away with their behaviour.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her son from further attacks, said: “A lot of kids these days think they are untouchable, even though the police were involved in our case.”

But local authorities maintained that any allegation of bullying is “taken seriously” and said “appropriate action” is always taken.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Parents can be assured we have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with bullying.

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“Any accusation of bullying is investigated, and appropriate action is taken including involving police if necessary.

“We will continue to encourage pupils and parents to work with teachers, support staff and other partners within the anti-bullying policies in place at our schools.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman added: “We strive to ensure that our schools are friendly and nurturing environments, where learning is encouraged so that our pupils can do their best, and thankfully serious incidents are extremely rare in our schools.

“However, we are not complacent so any instance of crime in our schools is taken very seriously.”

Police describe a hate incident as one which is not only a criminal offence, but an offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice.

There were 63 hate crimes recorded by the police at education establishments nationwide since April 2017.

Officers recorded 49 pertaining to race, with one incident in Inverness South, one in Kirkwall East, one in the Kingswells, Sheddocksley and Summerhill area of Aberdeen and a final incident in Northfield area of the city.

Police declined to comment on the figures.