Children learn from the example set by their parents, so it’s particularly disheartening to learn that some youngsters as young as eight-years-old have been involved in racist attacks in east Belfast.

They have been seen on video footage attacking a woman with stones and yelling abuse.

It was not a one off incident. The same family was attacked last weekend by young people gathered at a nearby bonfire site.

It’s far too easy to say they were getting carried away, that they didn’t know what they were doing.

It’s all part of an extremely nasty picture that has been developing in recent weeks where anti-social activity, culminating in racial attacks on people who have made their home in Northern Ireland, have been increasing.

It’s all part of a misguided and unsupported belief of some that they have the right to decide who lives where in communities across Northern Ireland, and it comes despite great strides being made in developing our country into the multi-cultural, welcoming to all society the vast majority of people who live here wish it to become.

But still the few can ruin it for the many, and such is the power they exert in their communities.

There have been well publicised incidents, leading to public outcry, in Antrim, Cookstown and Lurgan over the last couple of weeks — it is not a Belfast-centric problem.

Too often it is the PSNI issuing statements appealing for information on what they are treating as “a racially-motivated hate crime”.

Not often enough is anyone responsible being held to account for the intimidation — sometimes violence — they are meting out.

Police may issue appeals, but the chances of anyone coming forward with information are remote, given the threats and intimidation that continues on a daily basis.

Only when the heads are removed from those organisations which direct control, hold their communities to ransom and rule what they believe is ‘their territory’ will the troops on the ground — often unwitting children and young people — begin to realise the damage to society they are causing.

Too much hard work and effort has been put into developing Northern Ireland as a place that is welcoming to all cultures to allow those who continue to demonstrate such hostile attitudes to embracing difference and fostering inclusivity to succeed.

And our children must be set a better example.