Bullying is rife in our schools.

Lending their support to stop bullying, Lakeside Church, Pastor Daryl Moran, Final Round Boxing founder, Martin Ross, Final Round Boxing, Paul Cheers, Homebase Youth Services, Joey Engel, Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club manager, Terry Green, Forster Mixed Marshall Arts, Col Osborn, Homebase Youth Services Karina Tudor and Peita Compton.
Lending their support to stop bullying, Lakeside Church, Pastor Daryl Moran, Final Round Boxing founder, Martin Ross, Final Round Boxing, Paul Cheers, Homebase Youth Services, Joey Engel, Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club manager, Terry Green, Forster Mixed Marshall Arts, Col Osborn, Homebase Youth Services Karina Tudor and Peita Compton.

It’s a baffling question which many cannot answer – what pleasure do people get from name calling, stalking and threats?

Even more baffling is if the victim is a seven-year-old girl and the bullies are her peers.

But, that is what happened to Debbie (not her real name) a relentless tirade of bullying from Year 2 until she was forced to transfer from her secondary school in the Great Lakes to Taree in Year 8.

Students at her new school didn’t consider her fat or ugly and think her teeth were an excuse to ridicule this attractive, intelligent, but also now harmed 20-year-old young woman.

A fellow student once called Debbie a dumb slut in front of a teacher who did nothing; as an eight-year-old she was locked in a darkened room by a group of girls, accused of being racist, threatened with bashing and she was told to go and die.

Throughout her primary and secondary school years in the Great Lakes Debbie had little support from teaching staff.

“The teachers used the excuse that the abuser had had a hard time,” she said.

“Teachers need to be more proactive.”

At 15-years Debbie contemplated suicide, and became a cutter.

After completing her secondary school education Debbie moved interstate, but lacking self esteem and confidence she returned home.

Her mum said the effect bullying had on kids was devastating.

“They are never the same person they were.”

A sentiment shared by Peita Compton, the mother of 12-year-old bullying victim Phoebe, who has in frustration turned to the internet starting the page #helpphoebe.

“Our concern is that legislation protects the bully and not the victim,” Peita said.

Just like Debbie, Phoebe was forced from her Great Lakes secondary school because of the relentless bullying.

Our concern is that legislation protects the bully and not the victim

Peita Compton

“We were told she was not safe at school,” Peita said.

“Why is this happening?”

Phoebe has been bullied since she was eight years old.

It started when a girl she was friendly with started stealing from us, and we stopped her from coming into our home, Peita said.

The girl then became nasty, she said.

The bullying escalated from name calling and gun gestures to physical attacks as more school children and some adults joined in the intimidation.

Peita was floored and devastated when her young daughter once asked if she would be missed if she died.

“No-one would pick on me and I would not be bullied,” Phoebe said to her mum.

In the first week of the #helpphoebe blog the site received more than 18,000 hits and more than 30 people shared their experiences

Peita is calling on members of the community, police, politicians, schools and the media to get together for a community meeting, free of judgement.

“We don’t name and shame; we need to fix this problem

Bullying, isolation and youth suicide is a national problem, Peita writes on her blog.

“We need to stand together and help our youth. Our aim is to have support groups for families and victims. We want to be the people that stand beside you not against. If no-one says enough is enough and puts a stop to this behaviour how will things ever change. We are not going to stick our heads in the sand and pretend its not happening. WE WILL NOT BE QUIET #helpphoebe.”

This story The consequences of schoolyard bullying first appeared on Great Lakes Advocate.