BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Hot Topics 
UK Systems 
League Tables 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Bullied girl's appeal to Blair
Tony Blair
The teenager is hoping for backing from Tony Blair
A 14-year-old girl who has been the victim of bullying for 10 years is calling on Tony Blair to set up a children's commissioner in England.

Joanne Geldart says she has been bullied since she started school at the age of four.

She has considered suicide because of the taunting and recently started recording her experiences in a diary.

Speaking at her home in County Durham, Joanne's mum Ann said her daughter wanted to die after eight years of taunts.

Considered suicide

She said: "Joanne saw it being talked about on TV, and felt she could understand why someone could get that low, and she did consider suicide herself.

She wants to say there is a real need for a commissioner for children... so that help can be made available for children who suffer bullying

Ann Geldart
"But then she decided there was no way she was going to do that because it would have meant the bullies would have won."

Ann explained that Joanne was picked on because she was tall for her age and overweight.

She also has a natural white stripe through her hair which has led to the nickname "badger".

School strategy

Ann Geldart says the bullying got worse when Joanne started attending Ferryhill Comprehensive School in County Durham.

The school is now working with the family to try to combat the problem.

Head teacher Steve Gater said: "We are supporting Joanne through this difficult time and have put in place a range of strategies to help her."

Charity campaign

Joanne has now decided to channel her energies more positively, and has sent a direct message to Tony Blair.

Ann said: "She wants to say that there is a real need for a commissioner for children to be set up in this country, so that help can be made available for children who suffer bullying."

Joanne's call comes in the wake of a campaign launched by children's charity the NSPCC.

It has called on parents to write to their local newspapers and MPs calling for a commissioner to be set up.

Emiily Watson
Emily Watson has backed the bullying campaign

Launched earlier this year, the internet-based campaign was designed to raise the profile of child cruelty, and was fronted by actress Emily Watson.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "Wales already has a children's commissioner, and Northern Ireland and Scotland are in the process of setting one up.

"However, at the moment there isn't one for England.

"We have been campaigning for this for a long time, because we see it as a key to making sure children are properly protected in this country."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said the government was considering the issue.

She said: "The government is committed to setting up a Children's Rights Director, and it is consulting on whether this should be widened to become a commissioner."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

07 May 01 | Showbiz
Watson supports NSPCC's e-campaign
10 Dec 99 | Scotland
Website tackles bullying problem
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories