Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bullying Can Be Seen across Society, Every School Has to Deal with It

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bullying Can Be Seen across Society, Every School Has to Deal with It

Article excerpt

Byline: By Cathy Spencer

We have become a soft target, says head

The headteacher at a school devastated by two suicides in as many weeks today defended pupils over bullying claims.

Teachers and pupils at the school are grieving the deaths of Karl Peart, 16, and Gemma Dimmick, 15, within the past fortnight.

Ged Lee, headteacher at Hirst High School in Ashington said Gemma's death was not linked to bullying at the school.

Gemma was found dead at her family's home in Ashington on Monday morning. She left notes which did not indicate that she was bullied. She also took a quantity of tablets.

Karl was found dead at his home in Lynemouth, Northumberland, after taking a cocktail of painkillers and alcohol. He left a note for parents blaming bullies for his suicide.

"We have had long discussions with the police and Gemma's death didn't have anything to do with the school," said Mr Lee, speaking exclusively to the Chronicle.

"With Karl most of the bullying that took place happened in Lynemouth - which is four miles away from the school.

"And the lad that was fined in court for bullying Karl was not a pupil at Hirst High School.

"The school has become a soft target. Bullying can be seen across society and every school across the country has to deal with the problem.

"Both Karl and Gemma received help for problems that they had outside school.

"Some of the children at Hirst High have real problems at home - worse than anything you could imagine.

"Often they need to have counselling just to be able to go home at the end of the day. Both suicides have been at weekends or holidays when we couldn't contact them and offer help.

"We are looking at setting up outreach bases in Ashington, Lynemouth and Newbiggin where children can go to for help from a personal advisor.

"A lot of our pupils have low self esteem because we are in a deprived area, with high unemployment and they feel that they have no future.

"We are looking at having a project dedicated to raising their self esteem."

Hirst High School has a number of anti-bullying initiatives including a leaflet which was put together by pupils, teachers and parents, and NSPCC and Connexions counselling for individuals. …

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