Girls set upon victim like wild animals
Girls set upon victim like ‘wild animals’
A girl aged 15 told yesterday how she thought that she would die during a beating from two fellow schoolgirls who fell on her like“wild animals”.
A photograph of Bethany James taken by her motheras she lay in hospital graphically illustrates the problem of school bullying.The blood from her cuts cannot hide the bruises and swelling emerging above her nose, eye sockets and cheekbones.
Bethany lost consciousness during the assault and it took three adults two attempts to drag off her attackers. The alleged attackers have been continuing lessons at Immanuel Church of England Community College in Bradford. The school is accused of failing to act against the bullies by arguing that the attack happened away from school premises.
Bethany told The Times yesterday how she been to a video rental shop near her home in Bradford with three friends when the two girls pounced. One asked Bethany if she could borrow her mobile phone and when she refused her ordeal began.
“They came up from behind,” she said. “One of them grabbed hold of my hair and pulled me down to the floor. I said, ‘Get off my hair, what are you doing?’ But they started stamping on my head and kicking it.I couldn’t speak again and they weren’t saying anything. I was bleeding everywhere.”
“One of my mates said, ‘Why are you doing it?’ They said, ‘Because she’s been getting gobby at school’. I was just thinking, ‘I am going to die here’. I passed out but I woke up and they were still doing it.
“Two lads got out of their car and dragged them off me but they came back and carried on. Two of my friends went to get their mate’s sister and one was ringing her mum.”
The friend’s mother arrived by car and dragged the two girls off Bethany. “I don’t know how long it lasted but I’d say it was about a quarter of an hour,” Bethany said. Even after she escaped to the safety of her friend’s mother’s car, the girls kept coming back. “One of the girls went up to the car and was banging it with her hands and pushing it and the other one tried opening the car door,” Bethany said. “They were like wild animals.”
Bethany’s parents, Tracey and Anthony, said that for four years they had been warning the school that Bethany was being bullied. It began after she fell out with a girl who Mrs James, 46, deemed was a bad influence. It escalated with girls picking on Bethany with name-calling and,lately, abusive text and internet messages.
Weeks before pupils broke up for the summer holiday, it turned physical when one of her assailants poked her with a pen. Mrs James, 46, said her knees “buckled” when she first saw her daughter’s face after arriving at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
After the attack, Bethany returned to school but was put into an isolation unit. The Department for Children, Schools and Families said in a statement: “Head teachers have the power ‘to such extent asis reasonable’ to regulate the conduct of pupils when they are off-site or not under the control or charge of a member of staff.”
Nobody from the school was available to comment. Two girls were arrested and bailed yesterday afternoon in connection with the assault, West Yorkshire Police said.
Taking action against the bullies
— All state schools are legally bound to have a bullying policy. But it’s up to the school to draw up the policy
— One in three children (31 per cent) say that they have been bullied
— One in four people who complained of being bullied by their peers as children said it was still affecting them as adults
— About 16 children each year kill themselves because of distress over bullying, according to the charity Bullying Online
— More than half (54 per cent) of school children think bullying is a problem in their school
— More than 37,000 young people contacted the ChildLine helpline about bullying last year, compared with 32,500 in 2005