A national charity has drawn attention to the widespread bullying children face because of their religious beliefs.
80% of the 11 to 16 year old surveyed by Beatbullying said that they believed in a God and 40% said they practice their religion.
According to the Office of National Statistics only 18% of adults report practicing a religion.
Among the figures from Beatbullying, a leading bullying prevention charity: 23% report being bullied because of their faith; 9% have been bullied because of the religious symbols they wear and 13% believe they were bullied because of religious stereotyping.
Kids reported being racially abused, physically attacked, spat at, isolated, mugged, stolen from, beaten with makeshift weapons and stabbed because of their faith.
Some find themselves depressed, truanting, have trouble eating, their confidence plummets, some even have suicidal thoughts.
Others question their faith, stop talking about their beliefs, or even feel ashamed of their faith or their families for having a faith.
Nearly 20% said their friendships are largely of the same religious or faith background and 5.6% said their family doesn’t like it when they mix with people of other faiths.
Beatbullying said there is little or no support, few outlets and limited provision provided for young people to talk about their faith.
Almost half of young people do not talk about religious or faith issues at all.
The report was baed on interviews with 60 young people age 11 to 16, and was compiled from interim results from Beatbullying’s Interfaith programme, funded by the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and City Bridge.
Emma-Jane Cross, Chief Executive of Beatbullying, said:
“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. Beatbullying worries that this lack of cohesion is cultivating at best a lack of understanding and at worst a lack of tolerance of other faiths.
“The government must encourage and resource faith community organisations who are working with local, regional and central government to promote social cohesion, tolerance and commonality.
“The government must also undertake a comprehensive piece of research to map the extent and depth of faith based bullying between our young people, and publish explicit guidelines sitting outside what has been written on race.
“These must then be disseminated to all schools in England and Wales if we are to see a significant change in behaviour amongst our young people.”
In January the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, launched the first ever national guidance from the government to help schools tackle homophobic bullying.