Childline helping young people to speak out about discrimination

#UnderstandMe encourages young people to speak out and seek help for race and faith based bullying

Black teenage boy standing in a park looking to cameraChildline has delivered almost 2,700 counselling sessions about race and faith based bullying in the last 3 years1.

Recent figures from UK police forces show 5,349 hate crimes were recorded against under-18s with a racial, religious or faith-based element, a 14% increase in 1 year2.

Our new Understand Me campaign challenges xenophobia and prejudice and empowers young people to speak out and seek help.

What children and young people are telling us

Children and young who get in touch with Childline about race and faith based bullying talk about a wide range of issues. They have experienced:

Some young people said they felt isolated and withdrawn from society. Others had self-harmed or said they no longer wanted to go to school because they were worried about the abuse they'd face.

"Kids bully me at school because I'm Polish. Everything has gotten worse since Brexit and everyone is telling me to 'go back to where I came from', that I am not wanted here."
Boy who contacted Childline

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 20173.

What to do if you're worried about a child

If you're concerned about a child you can encourage them to contact Childline anonymously on 0800 1111 or direct them to the Childline website.

If you're an adult worried about a child you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice and support.

Dame Esther Rantzen, President of ChildlineDame 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."


Posed by model. Names and identifying details have been changed to protect identities.


  1. 1. Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, Childline carried out 2,699 counselling sessions with young people about racist or faith based bullying.

  2. 2. The NSPCC sent a Freedom of Information request to all police forces asking them for the number of recorded hate crimes committed against under-18s by hate crime category covering 2015/16 and 2016/17. A total of 41 forces responded confirming a total of 4,695 hate crimes were recorded against under-18s with a racial, religious or faith based element in 2015/16 compared with 5,349 in 2016/17.

  3. 3. Following the Westminster bridge attack on 22 March 2017 Childline delivered 128 counselling sessions about race/faith based bullying in April, a 36% increase compared to 94 counselling sessions in March. After the Brussels attack on March 22, 2016, Childline delivered 99 counselling sessions on racial and faith based bullying in the same month, a rise of almost 50% from February 2016, where it held 67 sessions.