A three-year-old girl was racially assaulted as recorded race hate crimes against children in Hertfordshire rose by 52 per cent over the past three years.

Figures from children’s charity The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) show there were 73 race hate crimes flagged by Hertfordshire Constabulary in 2017/18.

This is an increase of 52 per cent in the last three years and toddlers and babies who were yet to reach their first birthday were among ictims.

The youngest victims were aged just one in Hertfordshire, while a three-year-old girl was the victim of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH).

Across the UK there were 10,571 offences in 2017/18, a rise of more than a fifth over the 2015/16 total of 8,683.

Children who have spoken to Childline have said they were being targeted because of they way they looked and were also reported they were being told to go back to their own country.

Some who were targeted tried change their appearance by using make up, while others said they did not want to tell their parents because of the fear of upsetting them.

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 said: “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.”