Youngsters are being asked to play the game and treat asylum seekers as human beings.

In a bid to stem growing racism and replace it with understanding, secondary school pupils are being introduced to a board game.

Through it, teenagers are learning about the real life game of chance that asylum seekers take when fleeing persecution, death and torture in their own country to find a new life in the west.

Based on the traditional pastime of snakes and ladders, the fate of the players depends on the throw of a dice and packs of make-or-break chance cards.

Pupils learn that hazards facing asylum seekers before they reach journey's end are more varied and deadly than landing on a snake.

There are butterfly mines - especially designed to attract children - robbers, starvation and border guards.

Pete Widlinski, of the North of England Refugee Service, said the game, which was devised by the Catholic overseas aid organisation, Cafod, was effective.

The Refugee Service is to apply for funding to pay for a worker to take the plea for understanding - and the game - into schools on Teesside.

As reported in The Northern Echo earlier this week, in the Redcar area alone, Cleveland Police are reporting seven or eight racist incidents a month compared to one a month a year ago.

The incidents range from name calling and offensive graffiti to window smashing and isolated arson attacks.

Mr Widlinski said: "We are just looking to see what money is available. We are going to start the procedure off in the next week or so, to see if we can get some funding.''

Mr Widlinski, who is based in Middlesbrough, said: "A lot of anti-social behaviour and racism and criminal damage to some of our clients' houses is down to kids aged between 12 and 16.

"We just think the best way forward is to go into schools, maybe with some of our clients, and explain why people are here and what they have gone through to get here.

"A lot of our asylum seekers are professional people. It's really important that kids understand refugees are human beings too.''