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Study: Children with cancer bullied
Children with cancer are being bullied by their classmates, losing friends and risk falling behind at school, research suggests.
The illness can significantly disrupt a child's education as well as their ability to make and keep friends, according to a report by the CLIC Sargent cancer charity.
It reveals that youngsters with the disease have been bullied by their classmates because they have lost their hair or gained weight - with some even being told that they are going to die.
The report, based on a survey and interviews with children with cancer and parents, looked at the impact of the disease on youngsters' primary education.
The findings show that more than a third (35%) of parents said their child had been bullied or teased when they returned to school because of their cancer diagnosis, or the effects of treatment, such as losing their hair or gaining weight due to steroids.
One parent told researchers that some of their son's classmates tried to steal his hat and another said that their daughter was picked on because she had lost her hair and gained weight.
Another parent said: "James used to have friends at school but the ones closest to him started to be really cruel and nasty to him when he returned after his main cancer treatment. There were occasions when older kids would laugh at him and tell him he was going to die."
The report, published to mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, found that almost than half of parents (47%) said their child had grown apart from their friends. The same proportion said their child's school did not help to maintain contact with classmates and friends while their son or daughter was off.
Around 15% of parents said their child felt different from their classmates and 13% said their youngster felt isolated and excluded. The study also reveals concerns about the level of education children receive while receiving treatment, and the help they get when they return to school.
CLIC Sargent chief executive Lorraine Clifton said: "No child should have to miss out on their education because they've had cancer - and it's distressing to hear that some are teased and even bullied on their return to school. Funding can be an issue, so we are calling on government and local authorities to ensure children with cancer do not lose out on the home tuition they need because of any more funding pressures in the future."