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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Bullied girl, 9, 'wanted to die'
Bullying victim Jessica O'Connell
Jessica O'Connell has been removed from her school
A nine-year-old girl has revealed in her diary how she thought about killing herself because of two years of bullying by a classmate.

Jessica O'Connell described being hit, verbally abused and held down in a swimming pool.

Since being told her tormentor could only be suspended because the bullying was "not serious enough" for greater punishment, Jessica's parents - Sarah and Graham - have taken her out of St Wilfrid's Roman Catholic School in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

They have considered moving their daughter elsewhere.

'No more pain'

Mrs O'Connell said: "They're not the ones sitting in bed at night while their child is crying her heart out because she is scared of going to school the next day."

In her diary, Jessica wrote: "To mummy. I wish I was dead so I don't have to suffer any more pain xxxx. I love you."

Another revealed that a fellow pupil had "threatened to kill me if I didn't let her hit me so I had to let her hit me because I didn't want to die".

Jessica tried to avoid school by harming herself and making herself ill.

Jessica's diary
Jessica's diary complained of physical attacks by another girl

St Wilfrid's has suspended one girl for one day as punishment for the bullying.

A North Yorkshire County Council spokesman said it was "committed to the safety and well-being of all children in its schools" and had "well-regarded policies on anti-bullying".

He added: "St Wilfrid's School has sound approaches to dealing with bullying. The school and LEA have worked together to respond to the case under discussion, but it would be inappropriate to comment in any more detail as this stage.

"Cases of persistent bullying are very worrying to everyone concerned, and we fully support Mrs O'Connell's expectation that Jessica must be safe in school.

"We will continue to work with the school and all of the children concerned to achieve that."

Earlier this month, Karl Peart, 16, died after taking an overdose of painkillers and drink at his home in Lynemouth, Northumberland. Bullying was blamed.


Your comments on being affected by bullying.

Parent should be able to take legal action
Martin White, UK
It is the school's responsibility to ensure the safety of your child. If they are unable or not willing to do this then there should be legal repercussions. Parent should be able to take legal action. That would soon make schools take this issue seriously.
Martin White, UK

I was bullied for the majority of my childhood, and experienced similar treatment to Jessica. I didn't have anyone to talk to. Nowadays I feel it has got worse, due to overcrowded classrooms etc and the teachers, even if they did care haven't physically got enough time to deal with half of these cases!
G Taylor, UK

My son experienced bullying at his very well-known public school. He suffered for a term before he told us what was happening (this was following notable changes in his behaviour and performance). We immediately spoke to his form teacher, who within the hour escalated this to the headteacher, and summoned the parents of the bully into school. The school policy was a warning over the first incident and automatic expulsion for any further offence. If public schools can enforce such a policy (and by doing so lose income), why isn't the state sector able to do so? Incidentally my son was never bullied again.
Kate, UK

I'm not directly affected by bullying, but my wife works at a school where one of the teacher's children just committed suicide. If a single day suspension is deemed an adequate punishment for what could be construed as attempted manslaughter, then the LEA and school responsible needs to join the real world! I just hope I am never put into this situation with my own children.
Anon, UK

There is light at the end of the tunnel
Matt, UK
I put up with 4 years of bullying at secondary school. I didn't look odd, I wasn't fat, I wasn't a geek - but I was still picked on. I lost my self esteem and personal confidence and also considered suicide. But I kept my head down and waited and waited until the day I could get out of school. 14 years on I am married with kids and have been doing well in my career for 7 years. To those who are bullied - you will get through it, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The bullies are worthless and will remain that way all their lives. You may be affected for a few years which is not fair, but who said life was? Stay strong inside and nobody can hurt you.
Matt, UK

My daughter was bullied at comprehensive school, from the age of 11 to 15. At 15, the constant abuse, degradation and isolation triggered a psychotic episode, and she has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Steve Leach, UK

I am now 29 years old, I was severely bullied at senior school and it has affected my life. I am now a very nervous person, I cannot handle any type of confrontation. Luckily I have a wonderful and understanding husband who helped me over the last few years come to terms and deal with what happened to me at school. However, I have considered taking overdoses on several occasions and have suffered severe post-natal depression after the birth of my daughter.
Michelle Donoghue, England

It was very difficult to deal with the reality I encountered at school
Anon, UK
For me the worst aspect was the lack of support from the staff, and the feeling of betrayal resulting from that. Having been told all my life that society rewards achievement and protects the physically weaker members it was very difficult to deal with the reality I encountered at school. This was particularly true when the bully was a member of several school sports teams and I was one of the top academic students; the staff seemed to be more interested in the sport teams than academic excellence.
Anon, UK

I was bullied quite severely at junior school by two boys who made my life hell. I used to stick my fingers down my throat in order to vomit in the hope the teachers would send me home and feign sickness at home so my parents would keep me off school. The school thought it was all harmless and I simply had to put up with it. As a 38 year old parent I hear schools and LEAs claiming to have good anti-bullying policies but in my own experience they haven't got a clue of how tackle the problem and have little or no idea of the devastating impact bullying can have on a child. Maybe subjecting them to some bullying as part of role-playing exercises over would help wake them up.
John, UK

My son was bullied at primary school and the headteacher didn't want to know with his silly liberal attitudes, in fact he blamed my son for letting it happen. Once he started senior school it stopped immediately as the headteacher there made it clear bullying was not tolerated.
Tim, UK




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Westhead
"Jessica says she's beginning to be happy again for the first time"



SEE ALSO:
Can bullying be beaten?
06 Jun 03  |  Education
School tribute to 'bullied' pupil
06 Jun 03  |  Tyne/Wear
Name-calling 'worst form of bullying'
16 Apr 03  |  Education
Experts debate text bullying
18 Mar 03  |  Wales
Children take on bullying fight
30 Jan 03  |  England


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