A majority of British school children have negative perceptions about immigrants, a new survey has found.
The survey, carried out by the charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC), found that 60% of children questioned believed it was true that “asylum seekers and immigrants are stealing our jobs” while more than a third of children felt that “Muslims are taking over Britain”.
SRTRC conducted the survey over a two-year period beginning 2012 and questioned more than 6000 students at some 60 schools around the UK.
The survey also found on average children believed that nearly half of the UK’s population is made up of foreigners; a third believed that foreigners would stop them reaching their goals and half agreed that immigration is “out of control”.
35% of the students believed that “Muslims are taking over England” while many on average thought that Muslims made up more than a third of Britain’s population. The real figure is less than five percent.
Ged Grebby, chief executive of SRTRC, said the findings were worrying and raised questions about the kind of information children are getting from the media and online sources.
“We have found that there is a large amount of negativity when young people are asked questions about immigration or Muslims,” he said.
“This survey shows that this is fuelled by a totally distorted view of the number of immigrants and Muslims living in the UK.”
Dr Paul Jackson from the University of Northampton, who worked on the research project with SRTRC, said: “There is clearly a gap between the reality and perception on issues like the number of immigrants or the size of the UK’s Muslim community among some young people.
“The subsequent levels of hostility towards these groups is very worrying and is something that we, as a society, need to take seriously.”