Pupils are 'bullied for their beliefs'

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The Independent Online

One in four children with a religious belief is bullied at school as a result of their faith, research shows. The findings have prompted anti-bullying campaigners to urge ministers to make it compulsory for schools to record all incidents of faith-based bullying, as they have to do in cases of racism and homophobia.

The survey of more than 1,000 pupils by the anti-bullying charity BeatBullying, showed that 23 per cent of the pupils were bullied as a result of their faith. In addition, 9 per cent of those with a faith were bullied as a result of wearing religious symbols to school. One 13-year-old Muslim girl said: "These two girls knew we were fasting, they got me in the toilets and tried to force crisps down my throat; they were all laughing their heads off."

The report paints a worrying picture of the lack of cohesion between different communities at school, with 20 per cent of young people saying their friendships largely comprised people from the same religious or faith background. Significantly, a minority (about 6 per cent) said their parents frowned on them mixing with people from different faith backgrounds.

For more information on BeatBullying, visit www.beatbullying.org .