Tackling the problem of ‘disablism’

AWARENESS Andy Bundy wants people to be educated about disability hate crimes
AWARENESS Andy Bundy wants people to be educated about disability hate crimes

Cyclist injured in Gosport robbery

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A FEW days ago, our group’s chair emailed me to ask if I had seen a programme on disability hate crime that was on the television.

I tracked it down, and have just finished watching it.

The title of the programme is ‘The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime’. The term is one still relatively unknown ‘on the street’, yet unlike the marked reduction in absolute numbers of other forms of hate crime, disability hate crime has not shared in this.

The word I learned, and I’m almost ashamed to admit it, was ‘disablism’, which goes along quite logically with sexism, racism, ageism and many other ‘isms’ that escape me for now.

How many people using public transport have witnessed disabled people being made fun of, or verbally abused? How many have taken action?

Most people see it as a fact of life, and sadly that includes the victim.

On the positive side, both local authorities and police have been working hard to educate disabled people on reporting disability hate crime, and indeed on actually recognising it – which to me is a poor statement on our society.

Hampshire Police have run numerous local events, many of which our own group has attended, and the ‘Safer Places’ scheme is becoming quite effective in our area.

While a racist tweet will cause national outrage, a violent attack on a disabled person may not even be reported.

As positive, prevalent and effective are the publicity programmes I mentioned above. They are all aimed at educating the victims, often to actually recognise their treatment was a crime.

I would hope that many readers will consider this wrong.

Why do we have to teach people that they’ve been wronged? Simple answer – many have suffered so much trauma of this kind, they see it as ‘normal’.

A better solution would be to educate those causing the problem, or at least likely to grow up to do so.

The current National Curriculum appears to contain no reference to disability issues whatsoever as a topic or subject, while a comprehensive PPSE curriculum covers race, religion and other topics in appropriate detail at different ages.

Our group would argue that every school should establish links in their community to a variety of groups, especially local disabled people, and many do.

In eight years of volunteering in local schools, I’m not ‘the man in a wheelchair’, I am ‘Mr Bundy’.