Northern Ireland push to fight kids’ prejudice

Welfare organisations are launching a major media relations campaign in May to fight racial, physical, cultural and sectarian prejudice in children in Northern Ireland.

The push is based on research that tracked the response of three to five-year-olds to an education campaign launched in February by Nippa – The Early Years Organisation and the Peace Initiatives Institute (Pii).

Several hundred children and their teachers, from across Northern Ireland, took part in the research, which was conducted by Dr Paul Connelly at Queen’s University Belfast. The results are expected by the end of April.

Nippa chief executive Siobhan Fitzpatrick said the research will be ongoing, tracking attitudes and behaviour before and after exposure to the ads.

The media relations campaign by Pagoda PR will target mainstream media in Northern Ireland, including TV, radio, and local and national press, as well as childcare titles and the websites and magazines of organisations such as Unesco.

The diversity education programme is being piloted in Northern Ireland, but Fitzpatrick said similar initiatives could be run in Scotland and Eastern Europe. She said the campaign would lobby policy-makers such as the Department for Education and Skills, and Children’s Commissioner Nigel Williams, to provide funding.

Pagoda senior consultant Nicky Petrie said it was important for the campaign to target the whole of Northern Ireland. ‘We have to be very careful we’re not saying that only this area or that area has a problem,’ she said.

‘In Northern Ireland it has always been difficult to talk about differences,’ added Petrie. ‘But as we come out of a conflict situation, this is a great opportunity for parents to stimulate meaningful conversations with their children.’

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