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Published: 06:00, 30 May 2019
| Updated: 19:42, 31 May 2019
More than 300 race hate offences have been committed against children in the county during the last year.
Police recorded 302 offences in 2017/18, including some victims who were toddlers and babies, which means there were almost six a week in the county during the period.
The figures were obtained by the national children's charity the NSPCC, which carried out a nationwide investigation by asking all police forces in the country for their figures.
Scroll down to listen to Alex Gray from the NSPCC talk about the issue
WATCH: Racial abuse of children in Kent rising
The NSPCC’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Kent Police revealed 302 offences were recorded against under 18s last year, compared with 103 in 2015/16, which is an increase of 193%.
This amounts to a rise of more than a 5th since 2015/16, up from 8,683.
In 2016/17 the figure was 9,752.
The figures also reveal toddlers and babies yet to reach their first birthday have been victims of such crimes.
Youngsters affected by racial bullying and abuse who were urged to contact Childline told the NSPCC-run service they were being targeted because of the way they looked.
Many told the charity they had been 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 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 were children aged 12 to 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.”
Head of Childline John Cameron added: “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.”
Chief Inspector Guy Thompson, deputy head of partnerships and communities at Kent Police said: "Targeting a young person based on their race or any other factor is completely unacceptable and we are committed to supporting victims and educating others about the long-lasting harm their words and actions can cause.
"The increase in reports in Kent reflects a national trend and can largely be attributed to improved recording techniques and greater confidence among young people to tell an adult, teacher or the police about the offences committed against them.
"Hate crime remains under-reported so we welcome the fact that more victims are coming forward and will continue to work closely with our partners including schools and charities to encourage others to speak up.
"It is important to note that race hate crimes against young people are commonly committed by those of a similar age, such as in the community or on the bus home from school.
"That does not make it any less serious an issue but highlights a need for us and our partners to educate those responsible.
"We have dedicated community liaison officers in every district who review all reported hate crimes and offer victims an enhanced service where they are signposted to agencies that can provide further help.
"Protecting children is a shared responsibility and anyone can report a hate crime committed against a child.
"We encourage anyone who witnesses or is told about such an offence to report it online at www.kent.police.uk, by calling 101 or by visiting a police station or hate crime reporting hub.
"Further advice and support is also available via the Kent Police website."
Nationally 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.
To read about crime across the county, click here.
More by this authorLynn Cox