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It’s sad that children as young as 5 remember and report back experiences of intolerance because others have singled them out as different

PRESS RELEASE: 15th November 2016

Almost Half of 5-11 Year Olds Victims of Intolerance
according to a survey out today from the educational charity Learn2Think Foundation to mark the UN International Day for Tolerance

Notice: full survey available on request; schools available for comment/visit

47% of primary school children surveyed had experienced intolerance because they were “different”. The differences that the children believed elicited this response were: behaving differently or having different ideas (being boyish/girly, very bad/very good at something, religion, opinions, likes/dislikes) at 40%; versus looking different (colour of skin, because you’re a boy/girl, size, clothes) at 19%.

"It’s sad that children as young as 5 remember and report back experiences of intolerance because others have singled them out as different,” says the team at the Learn2Think Foundation. “There is a real danger that this is shaping our children’s lives – victims can carry the hurt or lash out, and perpetrators either do not understand the impact of what they’re doing or believe this is an acceptable way to treat others. We firmly believe that children can be taught to be tolerant and are working with some fantastic schools to teach provide them with the necessary skills.”

When asked why they thought people are sometimes “mean” to people who are different 45% said they thought it was because “they wanted to feel better than other people.” However, 38% said that they thought it was because “they have heard or been told bad things about people who are different”.

The team added,“The fact that intolerance is coming in part from what children are being told, means that it’s critical to give them tools to think for themselves. They need the ability to at once remain flexible and open minded, and find the balance between understanding and standing up for what they believe.”

When they were asked to rank factors, in order of importance of what they thought would make the world a more tolerant place, top by a long way was “people being kinder to each other”. Coming in second was that “all adults would listen to children more.”

The survey is part of a new grass roots programme taking place on and around the UN International Day for Tolerance on 16th November, in which thousands of primary school children will receive lessons in tolerance

“The project run by the Learn2Think Foundation is excellent,” says Kiki Mastroyannopoulou consultant clinical psychologist Norwich University Hospital, “Encouraging conversations between children that explore similarities and differences that extend beyond race or cultural background in a safe and non-judgemental environment, are crucial.   These conversations and the creative activities proposed, such as story writing and role play, lead to the co-creation of ideas that are not influenced or biased by the adult perspective and the assumptions that we gradually build up over the course of our lives.”

Lessons throughout the school day will concentrate on teaching pupils to understand each other’s differences, to think for themselves, and to discuss and debate where they don’t agree - from special morning assemblies, through to measuring diversity in Maths, to imagining other people's lives in English.

Lesson plans from the ToDay project, a free practical ‘open-source’ educational initiative, also include PSHE and drama resources to help children understand anger and to resist retaliation, as well as fun activities, such as a tolerance paper chain and sing along, and inspiring stories from ambassadors.

The team who run the Learn2Think Foundation - Felicia Jackson, Rhian Sellier and Virginia McLean - said: "We were shocked by the ramifications of the Brexit campaign. Through running religious tolerance workshops in schools, we saw first-hand how the anti-immigration sentiments affected young children. There was a dual heritage child asking if her and her daddy were going to be deported. 

"In another instance, a 10-year-old third generation Indian child was shouted at on the street to go home and of course there was the leafleting against the Polish families near a school."

On a more positive note, they also saw examples of schools that lived and thrived as multicultural communities. In June, we decided we had to act."We wanted to see this expanded and formalised within day to day teaching," said the team.

“We are running a whole day on tolerance based on your materials,” Hadassah Meyerowitz
PSHE co-ordinator at Brentfield Primary School, North London, says. “Our day will start with an assembly and end with another assembly where each class will write a class pledge linked to tolerance. The pledges will then be displayed in the school and the classrooms.”

"Lessons from historical and present day world events demonstrate that intolerance can have terrible consequences. Schools have an opportunity to teach open-mindedness, empathy and responsibility, and resources that help us do this within the core curriculum are most welcome,” says Jo Newman, Head of the Junior School, North London Collegiate School, Stanmore.

Tolerance Day was first marked by the UN International Year for Tolerance in 1995, in the wake of the racial and cultural conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, which led to the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides. As they said then, “in the interests of conflict prevention, promotion of human rights,” we need to “encourage the values of tolerance and peace among all the people of the world.”

Mark Semotiuk (see below) featured at the UN at the launch of the International Day for Tolerance in 1995 when he was just 12 years old. His ‘401 Goofy Jokes for Kids’, was used as a symbol of multiculturalism and tolerance, and he is now a Tolerance Ambassador for The Tolerance ToDay project.

The project is being run by the Learn2Think Foundation, which was set up in March 2015 to extend and expand the work started by independent publisher Rapscallion Press, whose books encourage children to think independently, creatively and compassionately. It is bringing together as many people and organisations as possible, including experts in psychology, philosophy, education and the creative arts.

To access the free Tolerance ToDay project lesson plans and resources go to

For further press information please contact:
Virginia McLean 07889 041188
Rhian Sellier 07958 767292
Felicia Jackson 07958 923182

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of The Learn2Think Foundation in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Education & Human Resources, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit