CHILDREN as young as three years old are involved in racism, with prejudice on the rise in Wales’ schools, MSs have heard.

The Senedd’s equality committee took evidence from Race Council Cymru and Cardiff University as part of an inquiry on the Welsh Government’s anti-racist Wales action plan.

Uzo Iwobi, founder and chief executive of Race Council Cymru, told MSs that children are increasingly facing racism-fuelled physical and verbal attacks while at school.

She said: “In one week, we had 15 phone calls from schools across Wales narrating different incidences of racism involving children as young as three, which is horrific.”

Prof Iwobi stressed that racism is learned behaviour as she highlighted the need to educate parents as well as pupils.

She added: “One of the little girls refused to come to school because she had been told she should live on a tree because her family looked like monkeys or some words to that effect.”

Prof Iwobi told MSs that communities do not have confidence in the police, saying people have reported incidents in the past but nothing has changed.

She recalled a vicious attack on a 14-year-old boy outside school by two white children, which parents did not want to report to authorities.

“Many people are beginning to feel like this is everyday racism,” she said. “This happens to us time and time and time again.”

She added that Race Council Cymru was advised to cancel black history celebrations in Llanelli this year due to the negative reception of asylum seekers.

Prof Iwobi raised concerns about a significant increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia due to the Israel-Gaza war.

She told the committee that women wearing Hijabs in particular are increasingly facing hate, citing the example of a Muslim who was egged on the streets of Cardiff last week.

She said community leaders report that Wales is almost no longer a safe place to be Jewish.

Prof Iwobi said: “Sadly, with the protests ongoing – it has resulted in more targeting against others who are not protesting.

“It is a very frightening experience to be out there involved in community work at this time.”

Robert Jones, a lecturer at Cardiff University, highlighted sentencing disparities and a lack of trust in the legal profession during the meeting on Monday November 20.

In written evidence, Dr Jones described racial disproportionality within criminal justice in Wales as systematic and consistent.

He pointed out that many of the necessary levers to tackle racism are not devolved, raising concerns about the “jagged edge” of the Welsh justice system.

“Wales is unique, it’s an anomalous system,” said Dr Jones.

“It has a legislature and an executive that doesn’t have the justice function – the only common law country in the world to have that anomaly.”