On 15th March 2022, it was reported that a 15 year-old black schoolgirl (Child Q) was subjected to an invasive strip search at school by two police officers. The British Youth Council are appalled to learn of the young black girl’s experience, and reiterate previous calls to end anti-Black police brutality.
Osaro Otobo, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said “We’re appalled and disturbed by the findings of the City of London & Hackney Safeguarding Children Board’s report on Child Q. Young people should be supported to feel safe and cared for in school and this traumatic experience has had, and will continue to have, far reaching consequences on Child Q’s life.
“This serves as yet more evidence that anti-black police brutality is far reaching, endemic and systemic. It cannot be right that we need to protest for young black children and young people to be treated with basic humanity.”
Young people should be supported to feel safe and cared for in school, but for many Black children and teenagers, systemic racism leaves lifelong scars. Racist bullying and sexual harassment, the bigotry of low academic expectations and stereotyping, and disproportionately higher exclusion rates and adultification of young black girls all point to a serious problem in schools.
Child Q was exposed to the invasive strip search while menstruating, without parental consent, in an environment where she was supposed to feel secure. Instead of safeguarding her, she was treated like a criminal in her school, with an official review identifying racism as a likely “influencing factor” for her treatment. Her family believes she would not have been treated this way if she wasn’t Black.
An apology is simply not enough, and young Black people deserve better. Over-policing, police brutality and disproportionate stop and search tactics must end, both in schools and across society at large.