Children in the U.K. Are Whitening Their Skin With Make-up to Avoid Racial Abuse: 'I Just Want to Enjoy Going to School'

child hate crime
Pupils are pictured in a classroom at the Bessieres primary school in Paris. Children are whitening their skin with make-up to avoid being bullied at school, according to charity. PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

Children as young as 10 are using make-up to lighten their skin in order to avoid being racially abused at school, a charity has revealed.

The British-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said schoolchildren in the country have taken to whitening their faces in an attempt to fit in after repeatedly being the target of hate crimes, including being told to "go back to our own country."

The charity said children made the revelations while using its telephone counseling service, Childline.

"I've been bullied ever since I started school," one 10-year-old girl said, the charity reports. "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," the girl added. "I was born in the U.K. 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 make-up so that I can fit in. I just want to enjoy going to school."

The NSPCC said an 11-year-old Chinese girl has also attempted to use make-up to appear less Asian because of the bullying she has received.

"The other kids say that my skin is yellow, call me names, and it gets me really down," she said. "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 Muslim 16-year-old girl said the racist abuse she receives because of how she looks and dresses has left her concerned soon she may soon be physically attacked.

"Over the eight years that I've volunteered as a counselor it is just as heart-breaking every single time a child tells you they wish they looked different," Childline counselor Atiyah Wazir said in a statement.

"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 [and] they have nothing to be ashamed of."

According to figures obtained by the NSPCC via Freedom of Information requests, there were a total of 10,571 hate crime offenses reported against children in the U.K. in 2017/18, a rise of more than 20 percent compared to the 8,683 offenses during 2015/16.

The charity revealed that toddlers and even babies less than one years old were among the hate crime victims.

The true figures are certain to be even higher. Only 38 of the 43 police forces that the NSPCC submitted a Freedom of Information request to responded in time.