Published Monday, 14 July 2014
The image was circulated on social media sites. (© Screengrab)
The image, which has been widely shared online, is believed to have been taken during an Eleventh night bonfire in north Belfast.
The five-year-old girl is pictured with a Union flag painted on her cheek and the sectarian acronym 'KAT' on her forehead in red, white and blue.
The child's mother, who said she was not at the party when the incident occurred, told The Irish News children at the event were painting the slogan on each other.
She said she was shocked to see the image and hit out at those who had posted it online.
"The kids got the paints and wrote on it," she told the newspaper.
"They see it all the time sprayed all over the walls in the area.
"I have friends and family from both sides of the community.
"I wasn't at the party, so I didn't know what was on her head until I finished work.
"If I'd been there the kids would not have it on their heads.
"It was kids messing about and you can tell by the way it is written.
"I asked her what it meant and she said 'kiss and tell' - she doesn't understand, God love her."
We need to send out a clear message that all forms of hate and sectarianism have no place in society and that children in particular deserve protection from it.
Naomi Long MP
The woman said that the child's grandparents were in a mixed marriage.
She added: "It is a disgrace people are taking it upon themselves to put this on republican sites.
"It has gotten out of hand."
Naomi Long MP described the image as "utterly depressing and shocking" saying it was a "sad indictment of our society".
The Alliance deputy leader added: "To expose this young girl to this form of sectarianism and hatred is child abuse.
"It beggars belief that anybody would believe it is acceptable to write this message on a person's face, let alone a young child.
"Sadly, it isn't an isolated incident. We have previously seen children dressed in paramilitary garb posing with replica weapons, for example.
A PSNI spokesman added: "Police have received a report, enquiries will be carried out to establish if any offences have been committed."
© UTV News