Hate crime against children on the rise

'Heartbreaking' figures show that reported instances of hate crime against children are up by 14 per cent

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Police have recorded a rise in hate crimes against children, according to new figures.

Data from 41 forces in the UK showed they logged 5,349 offences with a racial, religious or faith-based element where the alleged victim was under 18 in 2016-17.

This was a 14 per cent increase compared with 2015-16, when 4,695 reported hate crimes against children and teenagers were registered.

The NSPCC, which obtained the data through Freedom of Information requests, said that its Childline service carried out 2,699 counselling sessions with young people about racist or faith-based bullying between 2014-15 and 2016-17.

The charity's chief executive, Peter Wanless, said: "It's heartbreaking to think that some children are targeted by bullies because of their race, culture or nationality.

"Racist jokes and negative stereotyping can be hurtful and leave young people feeling isolated and ashamed of who they are or where they are from."

Some young people contacting Childline described how the abuse and negative stereotyping directed at them was so cruel they had self-harmed.

Others said they no longer wanted to go to school because they were worried about the abuse they would face.

Dame Esther Rantzen, president of Childline, said: "Bullying of any kind is vile, but targeting someone because of the colour of their skin, religious beliefs or their accent is simply unacceptable.

"Children are taking on board prejudices around race and religion in society and trading them as playground insults, with extremely harmful results."

Childline is launching a new campaign titled Understand Me to encourage youngsters to seek help if they suffer racial bullying and discrimination.

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