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My NSPCC Story – Childline

This story contains mention of suicidal thoughts.
James* from the North East of England was bullied from the age of 10 to 16.
*This is a true story but names have been changed to protect identity

James said: “I’d got to a point where I couldn’t take the bullying any more.. I wanted to kill myself as I’d had enough. I just didn’t want to be a burden anymore.

“A few years earlier, my mum and dad had moved house so I went to a new primary school. Up until then, I’d always liked school. But the kids didn’t like that. They didn’t like my glasses. They didn’t like what I looked like. They didn’t like me being the new kid. Nothing I did was right and the name-calling, punching and kicking began. I would wake up every day with a feeling of dread and felt physically sick at the thought of going to school. I used to try and think of every possible excuse to get out of it.

“The bullying didn’t stop after school. They were all local kids that lived near me. I couldn’t go to the shops, the park or even the town centre. Wherever the bullies saw me, they kept it up. Even when they weren’t there, it was like they were following me.

“Secondary school was even worse. Those kids who didn’t know me were clued up by those who did. It got really nasty and I had doors slammed in my face, and my head bashed against a brick wall. Days couldn’t go fast enough but I was counting years until I would finish school and wondered how many more years could I last feeling like that. I felt sick, scared and exhausted.

“I dodged my parents’ questions. They would ask ‘Are you okay?’ ‘Why are you acting like this, is it something we’ve done?’ I didn’t want to say anything, because I thought I should have been able to handle it myself. I felt guilty because the bullies had chosen me.

“I was 12 when I snapped. I was really angry: at the bullies, at me, at everyone. People always say ‘stand up to bullies, and they’ll stop’. Some people seem to think that bullying is something that everyone has to go through, it’s just part of growing up, and that somehow it will make you stronger. But I couldn’t fight all of them on my own.

“I’d seen posters or Childline around the school and decided to call them. The first couple of times I called I couldn’t speak and I hung up. I just couldn’t say the words I needed to say. So I wrote a letter and I let it all out. Childline replied in two days and then I felt able to call them.

“They listened and believed everything I said. They gave me advice on how to cope with the bullying such as joining lessons earlier or later and avoiding areas where they congregated. Because I was believed, they also gave me the confidence to tell my mum and dad. My parents helped me any way they could, and gave me the space to talk to Childline when I needed to.

“I started calling twice a week, about the same time, and usually spoke to a counsellor called Craig. He really listened, didn’t tell me what to do, and gave me the time to explain how I was feeling. That was so important to me. If he wasn’t there, I could speak to the other counsellors.

“I spoke to Craig on that Wednesday after I thought the only option was to kill myself. Craig persuaded me to wake up my parents.”

“Childline were also there when I was punched in the face in a PE lesson, and finally walked out of school. I was out of education for a year and when I did return I found it difficult to trust people and make friends.

“On the phone, I could be me. Childline was a lifeline when I felt I had no-one to turn to and they let me speak about my emotions and channel the negative feelings. Childline helped me realise that I had the strength to overcome the bullying within me. It was always there, I just needed someone to help me find it.”

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*This is a true story but names have been changed to protect identity

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