Page last updated at 04:01 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Survey warns of 'faith bullying'

Schoolboys
Victims of 'faith bullying' often turn to drugs and self-harm, the report warns

Almost a quarter of young people have been bullied because of their religion, a charity report says.

Beatbullying said it had encountered a disturbing level of religious segregation and intolerance among the children it had studied.

Chief executive Emma-Jane Cross said that schools were cultivating "at best a lack of understanding and at worst a lack of tolerance of other faiths".

The survey was based on 800 under-18s who visited the charity's website.

It was published to mark the start of Anti-Bullying Week.

Some 23% said they been bullied because of their faith, while 9% said they had been singled out for wearing religious symbols.

Lack of assistance

The charity - which runs government-funded bullying-prevention programmes in schools - claimed that many children subjected to faith bullying resorted to self-harm and drug abuse.

This bullying took the form of racial abuse and physical attacks, as well as being spat at, mugged, and even stabbed.

The findings from our survey clearly indicate the lack of support and direction our young people have to openly discuss and understand faith-based issues with their peers
Emma-Jane Cross
Beatbullying

About one-fifth (19%) of those who participated in the study said they chose to mix largely with friends of the same religion.

A small minority - 6% - said their families did not approve of their having friends from other religions.

Beatbullying criticised what it claimed was a lack of assistance for those suffering faith bullying.

"The findings from our survey clearly indicate the lack of support and direction our young people have to openly discuss and understand faith-based issues with their peers," Ms Cross said.



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