The NSPCC have flagged up an increasing incidence of reported hate crime directed at children and young people. Police forces across the UK recorded 5,349 hate crimes during the period 2016 to 2018. There has been a significant spike in children reporting hate crimes during counselling sessions following terrorist attacks in the UK, calls rose a third after the attacks in Westminster. The charity has helped to provide 2,700 counselling sessions for race and faith-based bullying in the past three years. Nearly half (48%) of the sessions were with 12 to 15-year olds, 9% were 16 to 18 years old and a staggering quarter were children aged 11 or younger. Callers to the NSPCC reported bullying and cyber-bullying, verbal abuse and racist name calling. Some reported self-harming or no longer wanting to go to school because they were worried about the abuse they face.
The NSPCC have launched an ‘Understand Me’ campaign to encourage young people to speak up about and challenge racism and prejudice and to seek help. It wants the government to make it a legal requirement for social media companies to prevent online bullying in order to halt the rising number of children affected.
Jacinta Bourke is a counsellor and psychotherapist operating in the Ealing W5 and surrounding areas. She is a member of BACP - the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.