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Tuomas Zacheus, Mira Kalalahti, Janne Varjo, Minna Saarinen, Markku Jahnukainen, Marja-Liisa Mäkelä and Joel Kivirauma

Abstract

In this article, we examine the experiences of students in the ninth grade (aged 15–16 years) in relation to harassment, discrimination and racism. The study was carried out at eight Finnish lower secondary schools with a high proportion of students with an immigrant background in 2015. The sample consisted of survey data (n = 445) and thematic interviews (n = 112) conducted with young people of Finnish and immigrant origins. Approximately one-quarter of the respondents said that they had been harassed or discriminated against at schools, and one-tenth had experienced this behaviour in their free time. In addition, almost half of the young people thought that discrimination is widespread in Finland. The more often a student experienced discrimination, the less they liked school. Experiences of harassment, discrimination and racism were especially downplayed when the respondent was the target.