What do young people know about genocide?

More than seventy five percent of young people have never heard of a single genocide that occurred before or after the Second World War. That is the startling finding of a recent survey of one hundred students in our community.

Most young people have heard of the word ‘genocide’ with ninety-two out of the one hundred respondents reporting some familiarity with it. Nevertheless, very few could define what the concept actually means with any accuracy and none were able to tell us who had originally coined the term.

Rather more reassuringly, one hundred percent of students told us that they had heard of the Holocaust. However, knowledge of the Shoah appears to be rather narrow: when asked to pick out related key terms, facts and concepts very few responses went further than ‘Hitler’, ‘Nazis’ & ‘gas chambers’.

Amongst the twenty four percent of students who had heard of a genocide other than the Holocaust there was a variety of knowledge. Thirteen students had heard of the Genocide Against the Tutsi (although all simply wrote ‘Rwanda’ on their response) whilst two respondents had each of the genocide in Cambodia and Bosnia respectively. Interestingly, 5% of students recalled the Yazidi, Rohingya and Armenian genocides – although the British government recognises none of these as genocides. Disappointingly, not a single student had any knowledge of the genocides at Srebrenica or in Darfur.

The evidence of our survey clearly demonstrates the need for more awareness raising education about the Holocaust and other genocides. We’ll be working to raise awareness of these hugely significant events in our school and local community.

Please join us in our campaign.

School students researching

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