Childline sees spike in counselling sessions about race and faith-based bullying

Children are experiencing abuse following recent terror attacks

Calls to Childline about race or faith-based bullying are increasing

Children as young as 9 are contacting Childline about race or faith-based bullying, according to our latest figures.

It's not uncommon for Childline to see a spike in counselling sessions following some terror attacks. There have been more than 2,500 counselling sessions in the last 3 years about racial and faith-based bullying. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Black and Sikh children were among those who have contacted Childline about the issue.

In some cases, young people told Childline that the constant abuse and negative stereotyping was so cruel that they had self-harmed, and many wished they could change who they are.

It's important for adults to be aware of such bullying as it can isolate a child, impact their emotional health and leave them feeling vulnerable and withdrawn.

What children are telling us

Large numbers of children are turning to Childline for support. Some Muslim children told us they endured:

  • constant name-calling
  • jibes about so-called Islamic State
  • threats of violence
  • victimisation when wearing a hijab or headscarf.

Meanwhile, other young people described how the bullying, both inside and outside of school, made them feel isolated and withdrawn from society. In some cases, they were even skipping school just to escape it.

"The boys in my class are always calling me a 'terrorist' but my teachers do nothing about it. I've started to cut myself to numb the pain."

" This boy in my class keeps teasing me because I'm Jewish. He tells me I'm not allowed to go near him. Now other people tease me about my religion too."

"People keep bullying me because I'm black. They say some really hurtful things to me and disrespect my family. Sometimes I wish I could just end it all."

Bullying: the warning signs

Bullying can happen anywhere - at school, at home, or online.

It can be hard for adults, including parents, to know whether or not a child is being bullied. A child might not tell anyone because they're scared the bullying will get worse. They think that they might deserve to get bullied or that it's their fault.

You can't always see the signs of bullying. And no one sign indicates for certain that a child's being bullied. But you should look out for:

  • "lost" or damaged belongings
  • physical injuries such as unexplained bruises
  • being afraid to go to school, having mysterious illnesses or skipping school altogether
  • becoming nervous, withdrawn or losing confidence
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • bullying others.

NSPCC chief executive Peter WanlessNSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:
"No child should be targeted because of their race or faith and we can't allow prejudice to make children feel ashamed of who they are. Instead, we should celebrate diversity and stand together. It takes huge courage for a child to speak up about this issue and they must be encouraged to speak up if they are being targeted.

"Some children don't understand how painful thier words can be, so adults must not turn a blind eye if they see young people turning on one another. We must defend those who are being targeted, and explain to those who are bullying others why what they're doing is harmful and wrong."

Esther Rantzen, President of ChildlineDame Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline:
"When these events happen, we adults are so often overwhelmed with horror we sometimes forget about the children watching too.

"Childline is in a unique position to be able to hear from children who may be ignored or overlooked when there are major events, like terror attacks. It's crucial adults are aware of this issue and protect those who may be targeted."