A South West teenager has spoken out about how he was targeted in a racially motivated attack, leaving him with numerous injuries to his head. It comes as an NSPCC investigation has found recorded race hate crime offences against children have escalated to a three-year high in the region – mirroring a UK-wide rise.
Teenager Kristo Crushcov (name changed) was a victim of an unprovoked attack in January 2018, after he was lured outside by a girl he had met and spoken to online. His attackers filmed the attack and posted on Snapchat, where it went viral.
He recalls: “I went home, washed my face and wounds – I had big cuts on my lips and my ear was bleeding. If it wasn’t for my visible injuries, I don’t know if I would have told my dad because I felt embarrassed. But then I thought why hide it and live in fear? So, I told my dad what had happened.”
The 16-year-old suffered injuries to his head, face and eardrum in the attack.
He added: “After it happened, I received some messages, saying that they would come to my house and do it again. After that, they sent me a message calling me an ‘Immigration c**t’.”
And alarmingly, such attacks are on the rise. There were 10,571 offences flagged by police as race hate crimes against children in 2017/18, an average of almost 29 a day, across the UK.
This was a rise by more than a fifth since 2015/16, up from 8,683.
Another girl, 11, said: “I’m being bullied at school because I’m Chinese. The other kids say that my skin is yellow, call me names, and it gets me really down. I hate the way I look so much, I think if I looked different everyone would stop being mean to me and I’d fit in. I’ve tried to change the way that I look by using eyeliner so that I fit in more. I don’t want to tell my parents because I think it would upset them.”
One 16-year-old girl said: “In the last few weeks, I seem to be getting racist comments wherever I go. People call me a terrorist and keep telling me to go back to where I came from. I dress in traditional Muslim clothes and I think it singles me out. I usually just put my head down and get on with it but it’s getting to the point now where I genuinely feel like I might get attacked.”
Across the region, toddlers and babies yet to reach their first birthday have been amongst the victims of race hate crimes, highlighted in the NSPCC’s Freedom of Information request to police forces.
In Devon and Cornwall race hate crime figures saw a dramatic rise of reported attacks on children in 2017/18, whilst police forces in Dorset and Wiltshire saw an increase on 2016/17.
Children have told the NSPCC-run service Childline they were being targeted because of the way they looked and reported being told to “go back to their own country”. Some tried to change their appearance by using makeup, while others said they did not want to tell their parents for fear of upsetting them.
Childline held 2,617 counselling sessions about race and faith-based bullying between 2015/16 and 2017/18. Girls were more likely to speak to Childline than boys, and the most common age group to get in touch about the issue was children aged 12-15.
Childline counsellor Atiyah Wazir 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.”
One girl, 10, 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 makeup so that I can fit in. I just want to enjoy going to school.”
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.”