Bullying Facts and Figures

Publication type: Resource Library

Author: Friends, Families and Travellers

Themes: Education

Research outlined below suggests that Gypsy and Traveller Young People are bullied more than any other ethnic minority in England.

This is Who We Are (2007) highlights the extent of racial abuse aimed at children and young people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in England.  If finds that eight out of ten of those questioned (86%) had suffered racial abuse and nearly two-thirds (63%) had been bullied or physically attacked.

Having Our Say (2005), a peer research project with young Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland, found that 92% said they had been picked on because they were Gypsy or Traveller.

Room to Roam: England’s Irish Travellers by Action Group for Irish Youth found that Irish Travellers in the school system are often negatively stereotyped as inattentive and slow learners, that they experience racist bullying because of their ethnic background and are often blamed when they retaliate.

Prejudice and Pride by Jake Bowers, commissioned by Ormiston Children and Families Trust, looked at the issues and opinions of Young Traveller children in Cambridge about the issues that concern and affect them. The report provided some interesting insights into how young Gypsies and Travellers viewed school and what they experienced whilst at school. Among many other findings, the report revealed that:

  • Only 52% of those interviewed said they went to school.
  • 60% said that they felt that their culture was insufficiently valued and defended by schools
  • 36% had been bullied in school

But perhaps the most dramatic responses came on the issue of racial hatred and bullying. When asked the question: Have you ever experienced racism or prejudice because you were a Traveller? 68% said yes and 32% said no. Many said this had been within the school system though others reported being physically assaulted, having caravans stoned and being spat on in public.

In DfES Racist Bullying (2006) it was pointed out that prejudice towards Gypsy and Traveller people continues to be “respectable” in many quarters and that it is a significant factor affecting the lives and life-chances of children and young people who are targeted by it. A further negative consequence is that the task of winning the trust of children and young people of Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds is rendered even more difficult and sensitive.

It was pointed out, with regard to cultural racism, that sections of the print media frequently create, and then exacerbate, moral panics amongst their readers. This makes rational discussion and deliberation all but impossible, not only in the media themselves but also in wider society, including schools. It was recommended at the consultative conferences that, in recording racist incidents, there should be distinct and separate categories for those affecting people of Muslim heritage, Gypsies and Travellers, and refugees.

In How it feels to be a Traveller a school student explains “I am a young Traveller girl at the age of 13 who lives in Northolt. Sometimes Traveller children don’t go to school. I would like to tell you why that is. I just wanted to share how it feels to be a Traveller who goes to school and how difficult that it is for me. Maybe it is different in some schools but, for me, this is how it is. I don’t have many friends in school because they don’t want one of their friends to be a Traveller so, when I am in school, I feel isolated from my class and I can always hear them talking about me behind my back and calling me a pikey. Most of my teachers won’t have time for me. They think I am just wasting their time because all the other Travellers that have been to my school have never stuck it out as it is so lonesome. I don’t think they know how hard it is when you are being called names every day and getting abused. At other times, when there are parties or when some of the girls in my class are going to the pictures, I don’t get invited because I am a Traveller. At break and at lunchtime, I am always looking over my shoulder because I am scared in case anyone comes up and hits me or shouts abuse at me. So, the next time you might wonder why Travellers never stay in school or come to school, that’s why! People say that Black, Asian and other ethnic groups suffer a lot of racism. What about Travellers? Please, the next time you see a Traveller, don’t shout abuse. Just remember what Travellers have to go through every day and ask: would you like it to happen to you?”

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