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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
'Tell on bullies' - grieving parents
Laura Rhodes
Laura was bullied about being overweight
The parents of a teenager who apparently committed suicide after being bullied at school have urged others to make their fears known.

Yvonne and Michael Rhodes said their message to pupils facing the same treatment as their daughter Laura, 13, was to tell everyone they could.

Laura, from Neath, south Wales, died in an apparent suicide pact with a friend she had met through the internet.

The friend, Rebecca Ling, 14, has been recovering in hospital.

Laura's parents have since told of how she was bullied at Cefn Saeson school in Neath because she was overweight.

Before taking a drugs overdose, she wrote a poignant letter describing how unhappy bullying had made her.

Mrs Rhodes said although she and her husband brought the situation to the attention of the school, not enough was done to help.

A spokesman for Cefn Saeson insisted the school took bullying very seriously. An inquiry into Laura's situation has been launched by Neath Port Talbot Council.

Laura (left) and Rebecca
Laura and Rebecca became inseparable friends
Mrs Rhodes has advised other teenagers going through the same agony : "Tell your parents. Tell every single person you meet until somebody believes you.

"To parents, I would say, camp on their door steps, write letters, campaign with MPs - anything to avoid what happened to Laura."

Laura's father claimed that, despite raising their concerns with the school, the situation did not improve. Eventually, she had to move to a pupil referral unit.

"As far as we were concerned, there was a bullying problem," he said.

"She was lonely and isolated and she had no friends at all. Nobody wanted to know. She would come home and the only thing she had was the internet. She never went out - only with me."

Running away

Mr Rhodes said his daughter's confidence was shattered by the bullies, and it was only when she met 14-year-old Rebecca Ling from Birmingham, in an internet chatroom, that she found a friend.

The two were in contact every day, and spent much of the school holidays together.

"They had each other," he explained. "If they didn't have each other, there was nothing else."

As the new autumn school term drew near, the girls sparked a police hunt by running away together.

When they were found, they were taken back to Laura's house in Heol Derwen, Cimla, but were found seriously ill there just hours later.

Both girls were taken to Swansea's Morriston hospital, but Laura could not be saved.

Mr Rhodes said he and his wife wanted something to be done to put an end to school bullying, and they urged everyone to make donations to the charity Child Line so that more children could be helped.

"If something was done years ago, we might not be sitting here now," he said.

"I just hope nobody else has to go through this. Something has to be done. It must stop."

'Suicide pact' girl's tragic letter
22 Sep 04  |  South West Wales
'Suicide' survivor was expelled
13 Sep 04  |  South West Wales
Laura wrote 'bullying' letter
11 Sep 04  |  South West Wales


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