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Items from the Croydon Guardian that affected public concern on school bullying and on the bullying of LGBT students in particular

Croydon Guardian autumn 2006

(c. 4th November 2006)

Photo of the mother

Bullies made my girl’s life a misery

By Gemma Wheatley

A mother claims her daughter's life has been ruined by bullies who tormented her for almost two years at an Upper Norwood school.

Brenda Harris, from Thornton Heath, says her 14-year-old daughter was the victim of five bullies at Westwood Language School but was excluded after trying to stand up for herself.

And now the girl, who did not want to be identified, is seeing a child psychologist and has been left too scared to leave the house.

The Croydon Guardian reported on the high level of bullying at Westwood Language School last month when Croydon Council revealed that they would be sending in a consultant next term to investigate.

However the school has said it takes allegations of bullying very seriously.

Brenda explains: "The bullies have taken over. My daughter is a victim and they did not help her, she was crying out for help and she was ignored by the people who were supposed to be caring for her."

Brenda enrolled her daughter at the Spurgeon Road School in Year Seven where she was happy for a year until the bullying started.

When she started to not want to go to school her mother approached the school but was told not to worry about it as it was only name-calling.

However, it got worse and she had become so depressed that Brenda took her to the doctor, who referred her to a child psychologist.

After repeated attempts to talk to the school, the final straw came when the 14-year-old was disciplined and excluded permanently from the school after taking a stand against the bullies.

Her mum said: "The final incident happened at the beginning of the summer when my daughter was involved in an incident with the bullies, and the lunch pole fell on one of the teachers. The police were then called into the school and she was excluded."

Brenda has since met with the school governors and the education board and claims she has been advised to appeal the decision but she says: "Who would want to send their child back to a school where she had been threatened and hurt?"

The girl will be starting a new school in September but the bullies are now tormenting the girl at home and have been phoning the house.

Brenda says: "I have had to start thinking about moving house as my daughter is just not happy around here, her confidence has just gone and she doesn't like going out.

"I am hoping the psychologist will help her get her confidence back but the bullies have won and they will keep on winning if the school carries on like this."

However, Margaret Hedley, headteacher at the school, said: "We do recognise that, despite our best efforts, incidents of bullying can occur but we would like to reassure parents that staff take reported incidents very seriously.

"We do all we can to protect victims and continually seek to improve our practices."

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