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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 12:08 GMT
Anti-gay bullying 'more guidance'
Laura Rhodes
Laura Rhodes claimed she was bullied about her weight
A report into the suicide of a 13-year-old girl recommends that schools should be given clearer guidance on homophobic bullying.

News of the report came as Laura Rhodes' parents said they had dropped legal action against her former school.

Laura died in 2004 after taking an overdose of painkillers in a suicide pact with a friend who survived.

She had disclosed that she thought she might be gay and had also been teased about being overweight.

The taunts happened while she was at Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School in Neath, which she left to attend a pupil referral unit a year before she killed herself.

Mike and Yvonne Rhodes
Mike and Yvonne Rhodes will ask for a full public inquiry

At the inquest the coroner said that the school had done all it could to help; education welfare officers were called and she was also seen by an educational psychologist.

Laura and a friend - whom she met via an internet chatroom - decided to enter into a suicide pact. Laura died and her friend survived.

The internal review into her death was written by the education and lifelong learning department after a request from the area child protection committee.

It sets out 11 recommendations for agencies involved in caring for pupils - such as social services, education welfare for schools and parents.

All we wanted was for the truth to come out and now the truth has come out that's a big step forward
Mike Rhodes

It said homophobic bullying is "the hardest kind of bullying to tackle and schools need guidance in this area".

Schools, it went on, needed clear guidance from the LEA on dealing with matters such as obesity, relationships - including the issue of sexual identity and mental health.

It also had recommendations for parents and advised that the authority should give parents access to courses on child development and their physical and emotional health.

But the review was careful not to apportion blame and said staff at Laura's former school - and those working for various support agencies - did listen to Laura and her parents and took appropriate steps to identify bullies and give her practical help.

Laura's parents Mike and Yvonne Rhodes said they decided to drop plans to sue the school and local authority after reading the review's acknowledgment of the fact that Laura had been bullied.

"Now that we've had that in writing that Laura was bullied - the only gain on taking it further would be financial gain and we have never wanted to gain financially out of this," Mr Rhodes said.

"All we wanted was for the truth to come out and now the truth has come out that's a big step forward."

But they said they do want is a full scale public inquiry into the events which led to daughter's death and have requested that Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke hold an inquiry to examine all the evidence.

Councillor Peter Rees, chair of governors at Cefn Saeson School, said: "As far as I'm concerned the school has never denied that bullying took place - and in this instance that may have been the case.

"But it was dealt with it in a proper manner and those actions were completely vindicated in the coroner's report."




SEE ALSO:
Schoolgirl overdose was suicide
13 May 05 |  South West Wales
Girl's overdose after 'bullying'
12 May 05 |  South West Wales


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