Exclusive

LBC exclusive: Children as young as eight posting racist abuse online

29 September 2021, 18:08 | Updated: 29 September 2021, 18:09

Children as young as eight post the abuse online
Children as young as eight post the abuse online. Picture: Alamy
Charlotte Lynch

By Charlotte Lynch

LBC can reveal children as young as eight have been racially abusing other children online.

Figures obtained by LBC show children have been behind as many as one in five racist messages reported to police so far this year.

Police forces in England and Wales, which responded to LBC, have already investigated more than 300 children for it in 2021, with four eight year olds identified as being behind the abuse in Yorkshire.

In West Yorkshire, an eight year old was reported to have used Snapchat to send racist abuse, in an incident which is also understood to have involved a 13 and 15 year old.

In Derbyshire, youngsters were alleged to have been behind the abuse of a Mansfield Town player.

Read more: Children could be at risk due to how Met investigates online child abuse - watchdog

Separately, a child allegedly used the N word towards another whilst playing an online video game.

Another victim was reported to have been targeted by a child using the N word in a blog post.

Records seen by LBC involving children under 10 resulted in no further action, because they are too young to be held criminally responsible.

The number of children investigated for online racism this year has risen by more than 100, compared to the first half of 2020.

Marsha Garratt, an anti-racism campaigner and educator from Middlesbrough, told LBC: "We need to look at what's in our education system, what's missing, and how we can use our education system to challenge racism.

"There are levels of denial within adults with regards to the reality of racism.

They say 'I don't really think it's that bad', or you get questioned, 'how do you know that was racist?'.

"When it comes to young people, their honesty, openness and the questions they ask shows a level of understanding".

Read more: Football fan avoids jail after being racist online about black England players

Klaire Heyliger works with young people in Leeds who have got in to knife crime, and told LBC she's seen rivalry begin with online racism.

"Whether it's violent or racial threats, children are using these platforms to do these things and parents don't know how to deal with it.

"Then you get children arming themselves just in case they get attacked, and they have something to defend themselves. They don't realise that having that could actually worsen the situation."

The issue of online racism was highlighted following England's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, which saw black players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka targeted after missing penalties.

Social media users noted some of the racist comments on the footballers' social media posts appeared to be from users with no identity attached to their account, or who appeared to be children.

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