Toddlers are among hundreds of children who have been the victims of racial hate crimes, including abuse, threats and violence.

Norfolk police has recorded 353 racially or religiously aggravated offences against children aged under 18 in the last five years, figures have revealed.

They include crimes against eight children who were aged five or under, with one victim who was three and another just two-years-old.

The figures, released under a freedom of information request, show of the 70 offences recorded in 2020/21, 36 involved children being victims of racially or religiously motivated threats, 22 were cases of harassment and 11 involved violence.

The NSPCC has warned that racial abuse and bullying of children has risen by one-fifth across the UK.

Eastern Daily Press: Most child victims of racist threats, abuse and violence were teenagersMost child victims of racist threats, abuse and violence were teenagers (Image: Getty Images)

The charity said some callers to Childline, its telephone help service, found children 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 make up, while others said they did not want to tell their parents for fear of upsetting them.

Last year a black Norwich teenager revealed the racism she experienced on a daily basis, including older school pupils making monkey noises and slavery 'jokes'.

"Teenage boys hear the n-word in music, so they think it's okay to say it to me", she said. "It makes me feel so uncomfortable, and when I call someone out for using a racial slur, everyone makes me out to be the problem.

"I'm known as the angry black girl who's always going on about racism, who's always getting offended by racism — as if it's not legitimately a hate crime."

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich Pride founder Julie Bremner. Picture: SubmittedNorwich Pride founder Julie Bremner. Picture: Submitted (Image: Archant)

Julie Bremner, an organiser of Norwich Stand Up to Racism, said societal divisions over social issues and government policies towards the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers were “creating the conditions for racism to flourish”.

“Young people should not have to face racism. We say loud and clear refugees are welcome here,” she added.

The number of offences in Norfolk last year were down from 83 recorded in 2019/20, though they were still higher than the 57 recorded in 2016/17.

In the last five years police have recorded 151 cases of racially or religiously aggravated threats or abuse against children, 80 race hate crimes involving violence and 73 offences involving harassment or abuse.

Other offences have included robbery of personal property, criminal damage and sexual offences.

Most victims, 212, were aged between 13 and 18 but 85 were aged between 10 and 12 and 44 were between six and 10.

But while more crimes are being reported the number leading to an offender being charged or summonsed have plummeted from 14pc in 2016/17 to just three per cent last year.

In the last five years, 25 people have been charged or summonsed but in 184 cases “evidential difficulties” has meant no action was taken against an identified suspect.

In 12 offences the suspect was below the age of criminal responsibility while in eight cases action against the offender was deemed not in the public interest.

A Norfolk police spokeswoman said: “Hate crime in any form is unacceptable in today’s society and can have a devastating and often life changing impact on the victim.”

They said every report of hate crime was taken “very seriously” and worked with other partner agencies and communities to “raise awareness of what constitutes hate, whether that be an incident or crime”.

Eastern Daily Press: The Stop Hate in Norfolk online portal allows people to report incidents.The Stop Hate in Norfolk online portal allows people to report incidents. (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Officers are also involved in school programmes to address racism amongst young people.

“We provide tailored inputs in schools to children to ensure the implications of hate crime are raised with them at the earliest possible opportunity,” added the spokeswoman.

“During these sessions, we encourage children to discuss the topic and to reiterate its unacceptability in modern society.

“We are committed to making sure people feel safe in Norfolk and want our communities to know they can contact us, and we will believe you and with your help will pursue the perpetrators through the criminal justice system.”

You can report a hate incident to Norfolk Constabulary by texting 07786 200777 or using the online reporting form

Stop Hate in Norfolk is an online tool for everyone who wants to help tackle hate and prejudice.