It’s something you hear about a lot in the mainstream media; mostly in movies. The protagonist is a nerd or a geek, and doesn’t seem to gel with the rest of the student body. They get picked on, pushed into lockers and make their lives a living hell. But, usually, said “nerd” would get a break, bag the hottest student in the school and end up being an all-round hero and Mr/Mrs. Popular.
However, that’s in the movies. This is the real world and for many, there isn’t much of a happy ending. According to the NSPCC, there were over 24,000 Childline counselling sessions with children about bullying in 2016/17. But that’s just Childline. Each individual school has their own protocols and reports of bullying.
Hannah is 21, and spent five years of her life at Beaufort Community School in Gloucestershire where she was severely bullied. “It would start off with just snide comments in class,” she says. “They’d make ‘jokes’ about my appearance, or laugh at the way I talked. It was just little verbal things at first that I could ignore. But the longer it went on, the worse it got. They would steal my phone and call people from it, push me in the hall. I remember in DT once, one of them came at me with a saw. They thought it was funny how I tried to run away.”
Many parents say that not enough is being done in schools to prevent bullying, and that schools aren’t supporting the victims enough. According to a study by the Office for National Statistics, the record number of children committing suicide has reached an all-time high. A study conducted last year found that 22% of young people who had been bullied had taken their own lives.
One mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, has fully blamed the death of her son on the school he went to. “We reported it, and reported it, and reported it,” she tells me. “But no one did anything. They all seemed to brush it under the carpet and let it happen. I had to pull him out of his first school because of it, and then it happened again and he just couldn’t take it anymore. Now we’re celebrating our second Christmas without him.”
Hannah said it was something she considered for a long time. “There didn’t seem to be much of an escape from it. It even started happening on MSN. They would find me and add me on different accounts and just kept torturing me. They told me to kill myself, and I seriously considered it. If I didn’t confide in my mum, I wouldn’t be here. There was no one at school for me to talk to who would believe me or do a thing about it. And the worse it got, the less they believed me.”
Beaufort Co-operative Academy said they couldn’t comment on their anti bullying policy but, according to the website, theyu prides themselves in having “a school community in which everyone feels valued and safe, and where individual differences are appreciated, understood and accepted. Every member of the school community has the right to enjoy life at Beaufort Co-operative Academy.”
We are a long way from having a totally bullying-free environment, but according to parents and pupils at local schools, there is clearly so much more that could be done.