Trigger warning: self-harm
This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, shining a light on the importance of children’s mental health. At SARI, we believe all children should be able to live and thrive in a safe environment and that their mental wellbeing should be treated with as much importance as their physical wellbeing.
The theme of this week is ‘Let’s Connect’, emphasising the importance of healthy connections for children’s mental health. According to the organisers, “when we have healthy connections – to family, friends and others – this can support our mental health and our sense of wellbeing. And when our need for rewarding social connections is not met, we can sometimes feel isolated and lonely – which can have a negative impact on our mental health.”
Being subjected to hate crime can have a huge impact on a young person’s mental health. It can cause them to experience low self-esteem, become isolated, to withdraw and, in some cases, to self-harm. Whilst there’s limited research into the impact, and a lot is anecdotal, one study found that over 70% of practitioners surveyed flagged the impact of hate crime and incidents on young people’s emotional wellbeing and relationships with peers to be ‘very high.’
We spoke to one of our Project Workers, who delivers sessions in schools and works with young people impacted by hate crime. They spoke about seeing children internalise the hate they’ve experienced or witnessed, expressing hatred towards their own ethnicity/culture. This can manifest in many ways.
There’s also the issue of intergenerational trauma that comes from seeing a parent or sibling experience hate. Explaining to a child or young person why they or their family have been targeted is an incredibly complex thing to do. You want to protect a child’s innocence for as long as possible and explaining to them that people may hate them because of the colour of their skin, the religion they follow, or their sexuality shatters that illusion.
With an increase in abuse over social media, it’s becoming more and more difficult to protect children and young people from hate. Whether it’s over TikTok, in the street or in the school playground, there should be no place for prejudice-based hate against children. At SARI, we work to support children, young people and their families who have been victims of hate crime. We also work with young people who have perpetrated hate, hoping to stop it in its tracks and help young people to learn and grow.
This Children’s Mental Health Week, we call on people to protect our children and young people from the impact of hate crime.