Here Sandra* tells the story of how she and her daughter Keira*, 13, have dealt with bullying which happened both at primary school and at secondary school. At primary school, Keira was bullied by a long-time friend. The police got involved after a very scary incident where Keira had a heavy door being banged into her head by the bullies. The police got involved but this did not resolve the matter. Sandra felt that the primary school was very unhelpful and ineffective in their actions. This is what she said:
“We’d been up to the school endlessly but I hadn’t put anything in writing, as I now know I should have done, and I didn’t get anything back in writing. The school had an anti-bullying policy but didn’t follow through with it. I just gave up on getting any help from this school in the end. They did decide to get all the girls together to try and resolve the situation but my daughter and another girl weren’t in that day and things were said that were wrong. She was blamed for things she hadn’t done. I was extremely frustrated and upset. It was deeply worrying on a daily basis and made the last two years of junior school awful.”
When Keira moved to secondary school, they made sure Keira and this girl (the bully) were put into separate classes. However, Sandra learnt later that Keira was still being bullied while she thought things were going well. Keira had only been putting on a brave face.
“A Year 11 girl and her sister hit Keira around the face six times, held a broken bottle against her and threatened her. This girl and her younger sister had a gang around them and this girl had my daughter and her friends licking her boots in the street. They were chased by some boys who came banging on our door. Keira and her friends were terrified. The whole gang was across the road – it was just awful.”
The bullying continued over the summer holidays and escalated when she went back to school, even after the bully left school, because others took the relay and carried on the bullying. Also, even outside of school, Keira did not feel safe as she was scared of bumping into her bully.
The secondary school finally took action to help Keira. They put sanctions in place for the bullies and they made counselling support available for Keira. They also put her into a different tutor group. The situation has improved and Keira is back to enjoying school more, thanks to the support of the school and her new friends.
“She reads a lot and has gone from a girl who didn’t like to put her hand up in class to one who often puts her hand up to answer a question. All the tutors think she’s fantastic! Her social life still revolves around girls from her old tutor group but her friends in her new tutor group come to her defence now if anyone has a go, saying leave her alone!”
However, like many parents who have had to deal with bullying incidents, Sandra still feels worried and always fears that Keira could be bullied again.
“There are still girls who want to fight her. It’s very difficult for me. You want to protect your child and to talk to their teacher if there is a problem but Keira hates it when I say anything to them. I did this recently and now Keira doesn’t open up to me as much. That’s where Parentline Plus comes in, having someone else that I can talk to because it is so stressful. I do find I am hypersensitive now and if Keira seems to be in a bad mood I think ‘who has said what to her?’. I can’t see an end to it.”
* Names have been changed to protect this family’s identity