48. Memorandum submitted by
Janice Williams, consultant working with a Lone Parent Project
in Camden for the past six years, Parent Governor of a Haringey
This topic has come up frequently in my multi-ethnic
groups at the Parentpack project. Here are the main points made
to me by the Black parents I have worked with about their sons:
Teachers in school don't like to
challenge black boys about their behaviour perhaps through fear,
so they get away with worse behaviour than white kids. There is
a real fear among teachers and other professionals of being branded
racist if you challenge a black kid. Parents are worried by this,
not necessarily because of any racism but because poor behaviour
is expected and tolerated from black boys. This has three major
1. Their academic performance is
low because they are never expected or made to work hard. Exam
success does not come without work.
2. Because poor and disruptive
behaviour is expected, tolerated and accepted, the boys do not
learn to control it.
3. This in turn leads to low self-esteem
and low self-expectations. By the time they have been in school
a few years they do not believe they can do any better.
4. This makes it all the harder
for the parent at home to demand good behaviour. These kids may
come from lone parent families where Mum may be the only person
trying to make her son behave. This is a tough job under any circumstances,
multiply harder when the rest of the world does not attempt to
help. There may be several children in the familyMum does
all she can, but feels like King Canute trying to stop the tide.
The boy culturesome black
youths feel that to be a man is to disrespect women and that you
are not a man if you allow yourself to be controlled by them.
This makes life doubly difficult for female teachers who can get
much worse behaviour to deal with than the male teachers do. Also
There is a real and justifiable fear
of violence among teachers.
Teachers are not taught how to be
firm and respectful with children, to use their tone of voice
and body language to best effect. They often (I personally have
seen this in school) plead with children to behave or treat them
insultingly, neither of which gains them respect.
The net result is a situation for
black boys where they are cut off from achievement in school,
have little contact with good male role models who might help
them achieve out of school and are left solely with the arena
of competitive misbehaviour in which to try to excel.
The home culture of corporal punishmentthis
is the norm in many black households and leads to a situation
where children are accustomed only to respond to the threat of
violence. This is of course not used by teachers, hence kids do
not behave in school.