CHILDREN as young as one were among the victims of race hate in Wales, as the number of offences recorded by police has escalated to a three-year high, with nearly 40 incidents in the Dyfed-Powys force area alone.

An NSPCC investigation found that there were 594 offences recorded by four Welsh forces in the past three years.

Responses from the forces to the NSPCC’s Freedom of Information request found that children aged between one and 17 were all recorded as among the victims of race hate crimes.

Over a three-year period (2015-18), Dyfed-Powys Police recorded 37 incidents, 11 in 2015-16, eight in 2016-17, and 18 in 2017-18.

Children who have called the NSPCC-supported service Childline said they were targeted because of the way they looked, and reportedly 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.

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 dare not 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 make up so that I can fit in. I just want to enjoy going to school.”

The NSPCC’s Childline service, on 0800 1111, provides a safe, confidential place for children with no-one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.