Children are bearing the brunt of a startling rise in hate crime. And the blame lies at the government’s door.

Theresa May Hate Crime
Steve Topple

As the UK marks National Hate Crime week, an investigation has revealed that it’s children who are bearing the brunt of a significant rise in reported abuse. But culprits are not targeting youngsters for their ethnicity or religious beliefs. They are subjecting them to horrific abuse because they’re disabled children.

Startling hate crime findings

BBC Newsbeat submitted Freedom of Information requests (FOI) to 45 police forces across the UK regarding levels of online and offline hate crimes against young disabled people. Only 29 forces responded to the BBC. But the results showed that hate crimes against disabled children had increased by 148% between 2015/16 and 2016/17. The number of incidents rose to 450, up from 181 in the previous year.

These figures tally with the latest overall [pdf, p10] statistics for disability hate crime, which rose from 3,629 in 2015/16 to 5,558 in 2016/17. This was an increase of 53% – the biggest of any hate crime “strand”.

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Linda Burnip, Co-Founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), told The Canary:

It is very sad to see that even disabled children are now viewed as unworthy and subject to abuse from the public. This is the direct responsibility of a callous and uncaring government who, from 2010 onward, has dedicated itself to promoting the scrounger rhetoric in relation to disabled people, leading to a massive increase in hate crimes.

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And the UN has highlighted the “scrounger rhetoric”, Burnip notes, in several reports.

The government’s doing?

In May, the UN Human Rights Council issued a highly critical report of the UK government. And it specifically gave 42 recommendations. These included saying that the government must do more to stop the media inciting hate crime; and that it also needs to take more action to tackle the problem, more broadly.

Then, in August, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) released its report into how well the government conforms to its obligations under the convention of the same name. It said specifically that:

  • Existing UK laws openly “discriminate” against disabled people, and the Conservatives have done nothing to address this.
  • There were “perceptions in society stigmatising persons with disabilities as living a life of less value”.
  • Anti-discrimination laws do not provide “comprehensive” “protection” to disabled people. And that the legal system didn’t treat perpetrators of discrimination seriously enough.
  • It was concerned about the segregation of disabled children into “special schools”.

Disabled people: ‘parasites’

And in a partially unreleased BBC News interview, UNCRPD Chair Theresia Degener slammed the UK government and the media. As The Canary reported at the time:

Degener said that the government and the media “have some responsibility” for society seeing disabled people as “parasites, living on social benefits… and [living on] the taxes of other people”. And she said these “very, very dangerous” attitudes could “lead to violence… if not, to killings and euthanasia”.

The BBC findings into hate crimes against disabled children are of no surprise to campaigners like Burnip. But during National Hate Crime Week, it is the most damning of testaments to not only the government, but society more broadly, that children are systematically abused like this; through no fault of their own.

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– Support Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Featured image via YouTube

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