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Children as young as 10 'whitening' skin to avoid race-hate bullies

Bullying can cause long-term emotional harm, says the NSPCC. Credit: NSPCC/PA

Children as young as 10 are trying to 'whiten' their skin to avoid being targeted by race-hate bullies, the NSPCC has been told.

Youngsters have called the charity's Childline help point to reveal their torment and the lengths some go to try to keep bullies at bay.

One 10-year-old girl said: "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’ve tried to make my face whiter before using make-up so that I can fit in."

The NSPCC has revealed the number of race hate crimes against children has risen by a fifth.

Credit: PA Graphics

Data show the number of offences recorded by police against under-18s went from 8,683 in 2015/16 to 9,752 in 2016/17 and then to 10,571 in 2017/18.

This was a rise of 1,888 or 22% across the three years.

Babies under the age of one were among victims who had racist abuse shouted at them.

The charity requested data from all UK police forces under the Freedom of Information Act, receiving figures from 38 out of 45.

It also released figures from its helpline Childline, which held 2,617 counselling sessions about race and faith-based bullying between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Girls were more likely to contact the helpline and the most common age group was between 12 and 15.

The number of race hate crimes against children has risen by a fifth. Credit: PA

Head of Childline John Cameron 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.”

Police chiefs have raised concerns over the heated public debate around Brexit and the “febrile” atmosphere that it has created.

The UK’s head of counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu said in January that a spike in hate crime seen around the 2016 EU referendum had “never really receded”.

Police figures for all hate crime showed sharp rises around the time of the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester.

Levels decreased again until early 2018, when they again began to rise.

In March this year monitoring group Tell Mama said there had been a spike in race hate crime in the UK following the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.

Aside from these spikes, longer term figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales suggested that hate crime had reduced by 40% in the decade to 2017/18.