The Traveller Movement has launched “I’m not allowed to play with you anymore”, a children’s book written by an Irish Traveller mother, that highlights the bullying of Gypsy and Traveller schoolchildren in school.
The beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a young Irish Traveller girl who was friends with a settled boy until the boy’s father said they could not play together any more.
The story ends with the young girl no longer wanting to go to school because she feels like she is not welcome.
Last month the Traveller Movement published research, ‘The last acceptable form of racism?’, which found that 70% of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people had experienced discrimination in education. The most common experience was teachers overlooking bullying and teachers themselves reinforcing negative stereotypes against Gypsies and Travellers.
A poll by the Traveller Movement and YouGov also found that only four out of ten parents in Britain would be happy with their child having a playdate with a Traveller child.
Cassie Marie McDonagh an Irish Traveller whose experience the book is based on told the Travellers’ Times “when I was at school, there were plenty of times I was treated differently simply because I was a Traveller.”
“One of my friends was suddenly not allowed to play with me anymore and started calling me a ‘Pikey’ for no reason.
“When I told mummy she explained it would be because of his parents that he suddenly changed his opinion of me.”
Cassie Marie said “My little girl is very outgoing and confident but I am dreading the day she comes home crying because she hasn’t been invited to the party
“Or because she loses one of her friends or after being called racist names all because she is a Traveller.
“It is sad that this is still happening in schools.”
Cassie Marie added that she hopes “the book will help stop Traveller children from being bullied in the future”.
The book is available online for free here. http://travellermovement.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/book1e-FINAL-WEB.pdf
If you would like to order hard copies, please contact the Traveller Movement. www.Travellermovement.org.uk.
The project was funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.