Where better to begin the fight against hate crime?

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Many of us might remember the school bully, someone with a reputation for picking on people perceived as weaker, or different in some way.

Perhaps, in another era, it was a phenomenon to be endured, suffered in silence, and coped with, but not today.

Just as the #metoo campaign, starting in the wake of a Hollywood sex pest scandal, has entered mainstream consciousness, times have changed in other ways too.

In 2018 we would hope that bullying never has to be tolerated at school, in the workplace, or in any walk of life.

Because, if bullying goes unchallenged it can mutate into something even worse, and if mixed with prejudice or intolerance it can grow into something very ugly indeed.

Hate crime is a blight on society and something which shames us all.

In the eyes of the law a hate crime is one motivated by prejudice and which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group or race.

Examples of such groups can include sex, ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.

So where better to begin fightback against hate crime, than in schools, where the seeds of bullying are often to be found.

Year 5 pupils at Cottage Grove Primary School in Portsmouth have been taking part in a scheme funded by Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane, to help stamp out hate crime.

It’s an excellent initiative, as Tony Blair once said, tackling not only crime, but also the causes of crime.

Tellingly a number of pupils said they had suffered hate crime.

But bringing the issue into the open and tackling it head on gives hope that one day hate crime will be a thing of the past.