Saturday 25 March 2017

Mother of suicide teen calls for school-bullying law

Edel O'Connell

THE mother of a young girl who took her own life after a vicious campaign of abuse against her has urged the Government to introduce tough legislation to tackle bullying in schools.

Leanne Wolfe from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, suffered six years of constant bullying by a gang of girls up to her death, just two weeks after her 18th birthday on March 23, 2007.

Yesterday, her frustrated mother Colette Wolfe warned that other children were still at risk because the Government had failed to clamp down on bullies.

She said authorities were not taking the issue seriously enough, unlike in the US. Following the tragic death of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts last year, action was immediately taken and charges brought against six of Phoebe's classmates.

"Things haven't changed at all in Irish schools since we lost Leanne. Nobody seems to want to take action to stamp it out. Suicide has a devastating effect on everyone it touches," Mrs Wolfe told the Irish Independent.

She also called for an independent group to be set up to which parents could turn if they were concerned that their child was being bullied.

Mrs Wolfe added: "It seems lots of schools are far more interested in grades than they are in looking after their students' mental health.

"I don't want any other parents to go what we went through. The pain of it never leaves you."

According to the Department of Education, National Educational Welfare Board guidelines direct every school to put in place a policy which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour.

The head of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Limerick TD Dan Neville, said schools must be more proactive in stamping out bullying.

"How many potential Phoebe Princes and Leanne Wolfes are not getting the help they need?" he asked.

"Although some schools are exemplary, others are far too concerned with the points system to take proper care of the emotional well-being of their students."

Irish Independent

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