These case studies have been taken from www.beatbullying.org. [Please note that the BeatBullying service is no longer available]
Natalie was severely and relentlessly bullied offline and also online. She became a victim at school, where fellow students would call her abusive names due to her weight and even try to cut her hair whilst she was in class. The bullying followed Natalie home when she became a member on the website Formspring and she started to receive anonymous, abusive messages and comments. She would receive comments saying things, such as: she was fat, ugly and that she should die.
The bullying became so bad that Natalie ended up in hospital after a dizzy spell; which resulted in her being diagnosed with manic anxiety. This pushed Natalie to speak out and talk to her parents. She also turned to BeatBullying where she could speak with her peers.
When Mollie started secondary school she was understandably nervous, but she had no idea of what she and her family were about to face. Within the first few weeks of starting, she began to feel excluded by some of the girls in her class and year, but soon this exclusion developed into intimidation. Fortunately, Mollie was brave enough to confide in her mother, Kerry, about what was going on at school.
Kerry, an active member of the Parent Teacher Association, decided not only to give her daughter her full support and advice, but also to pay close attention to how the school dealt with her daughter’s predicament. She asked Mollie to explain what had been happening to her teacher, but no action was taken by the school.
By January, the bullying had become so bad that Mollie was excluded from all social activity at school and she felt completely alone and desperate. At this stage, the bullying took an unexpected twist. When Mollie was at home one evening one of the bullies added her as a friend on MSN and began to harass and abuse her online. Mollie was horrified that not only did she need to suffer this indignity at school but now it also infected her life at home.
Once again Mollie explained to the teacher what happened and who the perpetrators were, but the school took no action. In fact, this resulted in heightened agitation in the perpetrators. During one incident in the playground, when Mollie was surrounded by a bunch of girls who were harassing and intimidating her, Mollie hit out. Mollie was reprimanded and was excluded from school for one day, whilst the bullies were never even spoken to.
Whilst Mollie was at home, she received a phonecall from girls at her school, which included death threats, and was recorded by her mother. Armed with this evidence, Kerry marched into the school and demanded to speak with the head teacher. She explained that Mollie was extremely sorry for hitting back at the bully and knows that it was the wrong thing to do, but that the school needed to take responsibility for the bullying that was going on and do something about it.
Mollie came back to school to an extremely hostile environment. At one stage, the bullies, a group of girls, chased Mollie into the toilets. Mollie sought refuge in a cubicle with the door locked and called her mother from her mobile. Her mother, on hearing the screams and the threats at the end of the phone, called the school on her other phone in a panic. The receptionist transferred her to a voicemail. She rang back and explained that her daughter was being attacked in the toilets, only to be was transferred to a voicemail again. Kerry gave up on expecting the school to help so hung up and dialled 999!
The police visited the school and interviewed everyone involved and explained to Kerry that her daughter was now safe. The head teacher told Kerry to stop wasting police and the school's time.
Later that same week, Mollie was physically attacked again and the police were called to the school for a second time. The school still refused to accept that there was any bullying taking place.
Kerry took Mollie out of school. She was not prepared to send her daughter somewhere where her physical safety was not assured, and spent the next few months trying to find a solution to the problem without success.
Although Mollie wasn’t at school, the bullying continued on MSN. Eventually, Mollie showed her mother. Against most anti-bullying advice, Kerry sat down at the computer and spoke to the bully. Through the ensuing conversations, which went on over days, Kerry was able to explain to the bully the effect of her actions. Eventually, she was able to broker a renewed friendship between the two girls, which had seemed unbelievable only a few weeks previously.
However, the problem with the school remained. Even when faced with all the evidence: a recording of a phonecall, transcripts from the MSN conversations and finally, a letter written by the bully confessing to bullying, the school still referred to it as "alleged bullying".
Through working with Beatbullying Kerry was able to involve key influencers in this situation, which finally resulted in the local MP stepping in on her behalf. Kerry also sent Mollie back to the school when every pupil in her year signed a petition to get Mollie back and to bring Beatbullying into the school to run workshops to solve what they call the bullying problem.
"I want to see you suffer as slow and painful a death as possible"
Julianne was a victim of persistent verbal and physical bullying at school, but even at home she couldn’t escape her tormentors, as they continued their assault over the internet.
Julianne’s ordeal started with a simple argument after a basketball game. One girl continued to bully her, and the problem escalated from name-calling to physical assaults. However, the incidences were not limited to the confines of the school, and the bullying continued outside of school.
Although the school acknowledged that there was a problem, their solution was for separate teachers to escort Julianne and her tormentor whenever they were at school so they did not cross paths. Undeterred, the bully turned her attention to tormenting Julianne’s younger brother and threatening their dumbfounded mother outside the school gates, sitting on the bonnet of her car and hurling abuse at her.
The bullying did not stop there, and the bullies continued to attack Julianne online. At the peak of her torture, when she was 15, Julianne received a series of vicious messages and online postings via her MySpace profile. One of the most vitriolic read “I just want you to know what a fat, evil, sadistic cow you are. I want to see you suffer as slow and painful a death as possible.” The bully’s message of insults and threats ran to over a page.
When Julianne began receiving anonymous insults and threats via MySpace, she contacted one of Beatbullying’s Directors. Julianne became withdrawn, angry and upset. Each time Julianne received an abusive message online, she would contact Beatbullying with a copy of the message, and the charity was able to offer support and advice.
Over a significant period of time, Beatbullying persuaded Julianne to tell her learning mentor. Ultimately, with the support of her learning mentor and Beatbullying, Julianne was able to overcome her experiences. The learning mentor had an idea of who the perpetrator might be, and the messages stopped.
Julianne continued to work with Beatbullying and her confidence grew. She has now changed schools and has no contact with her bully, but continues to work with Beatbullying to increase awareness of bullying and help others that are experiencing similar problems to those that she was able to overcome.
Bullies set fire to fellow pupil's hair
David suffered such severe physical bullying at school that he regularly ended up in hospital receiving treatment for the injuries inflicted upon him by his bullies.
In a series of horrific attacks spanning a period of two and a half years and beginning when Tim was just 11, he had his arm broken, his hair set on fire and was thrown head first into a wheelie bin.
David said: “I had no idea why I was being bullied and I felt that the school wasn’t doing anything to help me. The bullies were never properly punished and so the bullying just continued.”
The bullying started when David was in Year 7. A couple of pupils began pushing him and hitting him in the corridor. He told both his parents and teachers at the school, but the bullying increased, both in frequency and violence. Younger and physically smaller than his tormentors, David felt powerless to stop the assaults.
In a string of vicious incidents, David was stabbed with pens and was pushed down stairs. He had his hands and feet taped together, and had his body taped to a classroom door. Unfortunately, the bullying was not limited to physical attacks and David was subjected to being mugged, having his mobile phone stolen twice. Despite being taken out of lessons while at school and his parents arranging meetings with the Head teacher, the bullying continued.
David’s outraged father, John, said: ‘Nobody has put a stop to this bullying and it has become widespread at the school. It is unacceptable that a child can be badly injured by other pupils at school and no one prevents it from happening or punishes the culprits. It makes me so angry.’
Despite the Head teacher’s claims that bullying incidents were taken very seriously, a bullying culture appeared to spread in the school and David suffered random attacks by different pupils every day. Unfortunately, David was not the only pupil affected and others were targeted for physical beatings in the corridors. When David had his hair and scalp burnt by a home-made flame-thrower, another boy suffered the same ordeal but was too scared to speak out.
In December, the years of bullying finally came to a head. In one final attack, David was picked up by the throat and thrown onto the floor, landing on his face. He decided that he had had enough. He had watched his attackers repeat the violent assault on other pupils, and realised that nothing would change unless he spoke out.
Distraught at seeing their son return home from school with severe injuries yet again, David’s irate parents contacted the school. The school downplayed the incident by expressing their regret that David was injured during the ‘joke’. After two and a half years of suffering, David’s parents were finally forced to withdraw their son from the school for fear that the violence there was out of control, and they informed the police.
Beatbullying contacted John and offered support for David. The charity provided David with the resources to draw up his own anti-bullying policy, and create his own solution to the problem. In January, John and David presented the school with the anti-bullying material they had produced, and the school admitted their inadequacies. David returned to the school without incident for almost half a term, but the bullying has not completely stopped. John believes that the school must do more, or David and others, will continue to suffer, and he will have to take his son out fo the school again.
Please note that the names above have been changed.