Thought crimes in the classroom

Daily Mail
23.09.2009
By Daily Mail Reporter

Boy, 9, told to apologise for ‘racist’ taunt to Polish classmate while playing soldiers in lesson

A nine-year-old schoolboy was branded racist by teachers after playing a game of soldiers with a Polish friend, his parents have claimed.

Steven Cheek was reprimanded for pointing a finger at the Eastern European classmate and said ‘we’ve got to shoot the German army’.

His teacher immediately sent him to see the deputy head, who forced him to stand in front of the class and make a humiliating apology.

Steven’s mother Jane Hennessey, 37, of Harlow, Essex, slammed teachers for ‘over-reacting’ to ‘kids playing games’.

She said: ‘Steven has always wanted to join the army when he grows up. That’s his burning ambition and he loved learning about the war in class.

‘He’s not a racist - he’s only nine years old and he didn’t single out the Polish boy, who is one of his good friends. That just happened to be who he was playing with.

‘The deputy head shouted at Steven and said ‘that’s racism’, which is ridiculous because he has a Polish aunt and they were on our side during the war.

‘He didn’t understand what he had done wrong - he was just playing a game like kids always do. He came home after being told off and said ‘mum what’s racism?’

‘I think the school has over-reacted and been very heavy-handed. They could have quietly told him off instead of turning it into a big issue.’

Steven was hauled before the deputy headteacher of Purford Green Junior School, in Harlow, Essex, on September 11 during a lesson.

He pretended to fire a gun with his finger at a fellow pupil, who happened to be Polish, and saying ‘we’ve got to shoot the German army’.

Teachers claimed that Steven was singling out the Polish pupil, who has not been named, and forced him to apologise publicly for being racist.

But Steven’s mum Jane, who lives with his electrician father Darren Cheek, 39, and sister Amy, 18, claims the boys are friends and were playing a game.

She said: ‘He was just playing like boys do. I am so angry and he has been upset by it because he does not know why he has been told off.

‘Steven has a Polish auntie and he has been bullied since the incident after he had to stand up in front of class.

‘What made me furious was that the head has carried out an official report on Steven which will stay on his record in the future.’

Full article

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