Data recently reported by the BBC found nearly 87,915 racist incidents were recorded from 2007 through 2011 in British schools, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
Schools were instructed by a government policy to record "any situation perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person." The policy has since been revised to allow schools to use their own judgement when reporting incidents of racism.
The data have raised fears about whether young children who may not understand racism are being accused of being racists.
Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club, a civil liberties think-tank, told the Daily Mail incidents involving physical violence or bullying were "very rare."
"It's just not the case there are all these racist incidents. The majority of them involve primary school children who don't really understand racism," she said. "Incidents include calling each other 'broccoli head.'"
However, education officials say regardless of whether children know the meaning of what they're saying, racist remarks need to be addressed.
"Racism needs to be rooted out wherever it occurs, and particularly in schools, where every child has the right to learn in an environment free from prejudice," a spokesman for the Department for Education said.
Sarah Soyei, of the anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card, said the numbers of recorded racist incidents represent "just the tip of the iceberg. Racism is a very real issue in many classrooms around the country, but cases of racist bullying are notoriously under reported."
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