RECORDED race hate crimes against children have increased by 71 per cent over the last three years in The Thames Valley.

The research was revealed following an investigation by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

A total of 248 offences were flagged up by the Thames Valley Police as race hate crimes against children in 2017 and 2018, which is up from 145 in 2015 and 2016.

Across the three years 56 of the victims were under the age of ten and children have reportedly told the NSPCC running service Childline that they were being targeted because of the way they looked.

John Cameron, head of Childline, said: “Childhood bullying of this nature can cause long term emotional harm to children and can create further divisions in our society.

“If we see a child bullying another because of their race we need to tackle it head on, by explaining that it’s not ok and how hurtful it is.

“I would urge any child who is being targeted because of their race to contact Childline, and any adult to call the Helpline if they are worried about a child.”

Some of the children tried to change their appearance by using make up, while others said they did not want to tell their parents for fear of upsetting them.

One girl, ten, said: “I’ve been bullied ever since I started school. The bullies call me nasty names; it makes me feel so ashamed. My friends won’t hang out with me anymore because people started asking why they were friends with someone who had dirty skin.

“I was born in the UK but bullies tell me to go back to my own country. I don’t understand because I’m from the UK. I’ve tried to make my face whiter before using make up so that I can fit in. I just want to enjoy going to school.”

Atiyah Wazir, a counsellor at Childline believes it is heart-breaking.

He said: “Over the eight years that I’ve volunteered as a counsellor it is just as heart-breaking every single time a child tells you they wish they looked different.

“These children have been made to feel shame and guilt and sometimes daren’t tell their mums or dads about it because they don’t want to worry or hurt their feelings.

“I want every child to know that this bullying is not ok, they have nothing to be ashamed of, and Childline is always here to listen.”

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