One in four young people from across all religions are being bullied because of their religious beliefs.
That is finding of a report by Beatbullying, the UK’s leading bullying prevention charity, published today.
The findings will contribute to concerns that faith schools are fuelling serration on the basis of faith. The report also addressed the bullying of atheists.
"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 says.
"Religion, faith or perceived faith background arguably mediates peer relationships and interactions. 1 in 5 young people report friendships with people largely from the same religious background, arguably indicating a level of segregation and religious intolerance" the report continues.
The initiative, Beatbullying, which produced the report runs Interfaith bullying prevention programmes, funded by the Government, to divert the behaviour of those using faith as a reason to bully their peers.
These programmes have been proven to reduce incidences of faith based bullying by 45% in participating schools. In fact, 84% of young people who graduated the programmes, who were bullied before, report that they are no longer being bullied.
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.”
“Beatbullying’s work proves that by providing outlets for young people to discuss the issues that matter to them, we can effectively reduce anti-social and violent behaviours between young people. As a result, 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.”
The report is compiled from interim results from Beatbullying’s Interfaith programme, funded by the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and City Bridge. It encourages young people from different faiths to identify a common humanity, working to reduce and prevent incidences of faith-based bullying, bigotry sectarianism and intolerance whilst celebrating differences and positively endorsing all faiths equally.