Children in Cambridgeshire are self harming and afraid to go to school because of racially intolerant bullying, says Childline

Rise in the number of children calling Childline to talk about being bullied for their race, religio

Rise in the number of children calling Childline to talk about being bullied for their race, religion or accent. - Credit: Archant

Childline fears victims are suffering in silence amid figures that show there were 144 calls about hate crime committed against children in Cambridgeshire.

The help line is launching the ‘Understand Me’ campaign to challenge discrimination against skin, religion, accent or beliefs.

A total of 144 hate crimes with a racial, religious or faith-based element were recorded against children by Cambridgeshire Police over the last two years

Children have suffered physical bullying, verbal abuse, cyberbullying and racist name calling.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, 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.

“Our Understand Me campaign aims to reach out to all children who are experiencing racial or faith based bullying and make sure they know that they are not alone.

Most Read

“No child should suffer in silence and anyone being targeted must be supported to tell someone and ask for help.”

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.

“Young people should be encouraged to be proud of who they are. Racial bullying can be hard to cope with but young people need to know they don’t have to carry this burden alone.

“Childline is here for all young people and talking to someone might help them find a way to deal with the situation.”

Spikes in Childline counselling sessions about racial and faith based bullying have sometimes followed terror attacks, with the number rising by over a third following the Westminster attack in March 2017, compared to the previous month.

Some young people contacting Childline said the abuse and negative stereotyping was so cruel they had self-harmed.

Bullying inside and out of school made them feel isolated and withdrawn from society. Others said they no longer wanted to go to school because they were worried about the abuse they would face.

• Any child worried about bullying can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0800 800 5000.