BRAVE Gainsborough families have lifted the lid on bullying and the daily torment their children encounter at school.
The parents and their children, who we have chosen not to name for their own safety, spoke frankly to the Standard this week.
They hope that by telling their stories, more children will be encouraged to speak out and get help.
It was an emotional interview for one mother whose daughter has suffered at the hands of bullies for the last 18 months.
Fighting back tears she said: “She thinks it’s normal now, to be bullied, because it happens every day.”
“If something doesn’t change, girls and boys will grow up thinking it’s normal to be bullied and beaten up.”
The child, who goes to Trent Valley Academy in Gainsborough, said other pupils constantly called her names, and had even kicked, slapped and pushed her down the stairs.
Her mother said: “If she hadn’t recently made a really good friend, I don’t know if she would have hung in there for much longer.”
“One day she asked me what clothes I would bury her in if she died.”
“That was just heartbreaking. It shocked me to the core.”
The woman said her daughter hated going to school so much that she had considered keeping her at home.
“I know some parents have taken their children out of school,” she said.
“But I want my child to have a well rounded education - she is doing well at school despite all her problems.”
“I should not have to take her out of school for this issue to be resolved.”
She claims that despite countless meetings with the school and other agencies, aimed at protecting her daughter, the bullying had not stopped.
“I expect my child to be looked after at school while she is out of my care.”
“But as far as I can see bullying is not being taken seriously.”
“Will it take a child taking their own life for someone to take notice?”
Another parent speaking anonymously to the Standard said her daughter was bullied because she looked and spoke differently.
“She can’t help the way she looks or how she speaks but she started to think it was her problem and for a while she wouldn’t open her mouth to say a word,” she said.
“She would come home after school and go straight to her room without speaking to anyone.”
“When I found out what was happening I told her to hold her head high and ignore it, but it’s hard for her.”
The first parent we spoke to has even written to education minister Michael Gove to ask for support.
And in a letter shown to the Standard, Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh has called for Lincolnshire County Council to ‘investigate this at the highest level and ensure there is zero tolerance of bullying’.
The parent said: “I want any child or parent who is going through this to get in touch with me, the school or the MP to highlight the bullying that goes on.”
“I am here for anyone to speak to, or as a shoulder to cry on. I think if people know there’s someone listening, they might talk about it.”
“If we can save one child’s life or bring one bully to justice I’ll be happy.”
TVA principal Wendy Carrick said she could not comment on individual cases, but that bullying was tackled using a range of disciplinary measures from detentions to exclusion.
“We remain completely opposed to any bullying and are constantly reviewing our procedures to ensure we deal with any incidents as effectively as possible,” said Mrs Carrick.
“There is a rigorous escalation process which involves the governing body if something cannot adequately be dealt with using internal systems.”
Mrs Carrick also said a variety of support was available for students, including a Child and Family Support Team for the most vulnerable, and outside agencies which address mental health and social care.
“Our Learning for Life department regularly addresses anti-bullying issues in lessons as part of the curriculum,” she added.
“And in last year’s Ofsted inspection students said although bullying does occur from time to time it is always taken very seriously by the staff and dealt with appropriately.”