Seeing Red | 

Red-haired children 'need protection from gingerism and prejudice' says Human Rights advocate

"It’s not harmless banter"
Ed Sheeran. Photo: PA

Ed Sheeran. Photo: PA

Clodagh Meaney

A human rights advocate has said that red-haired children need protection from gingerism and prejudice.

It comes as a primary school teaching assistant in Sheffield was fired after parents were concerned about things he had said to children in the classroom.

In one incident, he reportedly spoke about “gingerphobia” which led to one young pupil with red hair being ridiculed and bullied for his hair colour.

CEO of Equalities and Human Rights UK Chrissy Meleady said that it’s not “harmless banter.”

“Bullying red-haired people is one of the last socially accepted forms of prejudice against people for a trait they were born with, researchers say, due to the consequences and adverse impact of the bullying," she told Sheffield Star.

“Whilst it might be seen as a ‘laugh’ to belittle, demean and abuse these children for being red haired or their phenotyical characteristic, it can be very harmful stripping these children of their positive self-identity and confidence.”

“And worse, it can lead to school refusal, health problems, self-injurious behaviour and even children wanting and trying to die by suicide.”

Chrissy Meleady, said that she personally had to deal with “a family physically abusing their baby for having red hair as they equated her red hair as being the ‘mark of the devil’.”

She added that another family wanting to adopt a child said that they would not accept a red haired child.

“They would accept any child of any race, social background, nationality, sexual orientation, diverse genders, disabled but that they ’could not abide a red haired child’.”

“Another case has been a red haired girl thrown down a flight of stairs by a group of other girls for having red hair, and had a brick smashed into her head too.”

“There needs to be more done to protect red haired children, not just from gingerism or anti-red haired prejudice and abuse from other children, but from school and other settings members who model the bullying and abuses to red haired children.”

While only 1-2% of the world’s population have ginger hair, 10% of people in Ireland have the unique hair colour.

Red hair is considered the rarest natural hair colour in humans.

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