It is time to make bullying an offence

As part of our focus on mental health and bullying, we have invited our members to discuss their experiences with us, in the hope that it will help others.

Today, our disability spokesman, Cllr. Richard Harris bravely talks about his experience with school bullying and calls on the government to do much more to combat it.

It’s not often that you get an opportunity to give something back to your old school.

In 2010, I got that opportunity. I returned to Friesland School in Sandiacre as a fixed term IT Support Technician. It was my first Graduate Job, although my graduation ceremony didn’t come until January 2011, my grades hadn’t even come through, but I went back to Friesland in October 2010. I proved my Teachers wrong; I proved all the doubters wrong and best of all for me; I proved the bullies who had blighted my school and work life for almost 17 years WRONG.

I suffered at the hands of bullies from the first year of Junior School until the end of my first year of Sixth Form. In age terms that’s age seven until age fifteen. It then began when I started work. In 2003, I began working for McDonalds, aged sixteen, I moved to a different business unit twice to avoid bullying and in the end left the business because of it. In 2008, when I left the business I was twenty one years old. To be honest, bizarre as it seems, politics gave me my safe place.

Back in 2002/2003, I was taking my GCSEs at Friesland, I was depressed and suffering serious low points due to the way that I was treated by the evil bullies at the school. The worst thing was the constant comments about the way I walk. You see the dyspraxia causes me to walk in a strange way, due to my poor coordination; plus I was overweight, so that didn’t help either. The comments that I received at that point was even harder to take than the physical abuse that I received earlier in life from the same people. The mental abuse was awful. I would dread getting to break time or PE lessons in anticipation of what was hiding round the corner.

The school weren’t interested, the law states that all state schools need to have a behaviour management policy, but Friesland’s anti-bullying policy was for the victim to choose another school. I actually remember my parents being told that there were other schools available, by the Deputy Head. I am pleased to say that the school, under new headship, has a fantastic record now.

Aged thirteen, I was told that I’d never take a GCSE exam. Now I have managed to make a success of my life, I have 14 GCSEs; 4 A-Levels, 2 vocational City & Guilds Qualifications and a Bachelors Degree. But many victims of bullying aren’t as resilient.

Now this article has been a long time in coming. It’s taken years for me to bring myself to talk about the issues that I had.

The thing is that we have laws against bullying in the work place but not in school. The behaviour management policy loosely tells us to manage bullying but I want real and meaningful legislative action that holds parents to account. It needs to take into account the fact that the school cannot always take responsibility for a child’s behaviour twenty four hours a day. Therefore, I call on the Education Secretary, Justine Greening to legislate against bullying in schools. No child should fear going to school.

Like I say; I suffered for many years in school and within the work place. I was forced out of a job that I loved. I felt ashamed. For this purpose I call on the Work and Pensions Secretary to tighten up on bullying in the workplace.

The 2010 Equality Act doesn’t go far enough.

The basis of this article and my experience is from a disability point of view, the majority of the reason for me being bullied was my dyspraxia and dyslexia, but I want the message to young people to be this: you do not have to put up with being bullied.

Speak up and put an end to bullying.

2 Comments

  1. Well done Richard for speaking out! Why are children treated so differently in our society?
    There is some truly dreadful behaviour tolerated in schools. What sort of employees and citizens must these bullies make? Especially when their exploits have gone unremarked for so long?

  2. Lee Daniels Wright says:

    I read his experience and couldnt believe it, its exactly similar to mine- It has gotten so bad that I had to stay home which made me despise myself more. Unfortunately, bullies can enter into cyberspace to target their victims. My best to Richard for speaking up about this I agree, it should be a law