Today we share a case study on behalf of Kidscape, about one of our Newport County AFC supporters and their daughter.
Our daughter wanted to share our story.
My daughter has struggled with bullying since she was five years old. The first time that it was noticeable, she came home from school with a black eye and marks up her arms. She was tearful, angry, and told me that it had happened by a junior school age boy during playtime. We had parents' evening a few weeks later and I noticed that my daughter couldn’t even look her teacher in the eye. The school refused to accept that it had happened or that there was an issue, it was then I realised that she needs to be somewhere else and removed her from school.
She started off well at her new school, but it did not take long for a class member to pick up on her disability and started making fun of her. She began to become socially excluded from groups and games, so often was spending her break times in floods of tears either as a target or on her own. She was too fearful to report it, and so she just let the bullying continue.
We noticed a significant change in her behaviour. Her sleep patterns were all over the place, she would lash out in anger at her siblings, bang her head whilst sobbing, she stopped her after school activities that she loved, and stopped going to watch her favourite football team – Newport County AFC. Her confidence had been destroyed and she felt that she was no longer good enough, or that she belonged. It was so distressing to see her react in those ways. We knew something was going on and tried to encourage her to tell us. One night she just broke down and told us everything, that she just couldn’t do it anymore and wanted to go to heaven. She was 7 years old.
It is hard to express the range of emotions you feel as a parent hearing that. It is shock, sadness, panic, despair and anger all rolled into one, along with some relief that she had finally found the courage and the words to tell us. I was bullied as a child too, and the memories of how I felt just came flooding back.
Her school was not helpful in nipping it in the bud or taking our concerns seriously. We managed to source external counselling sessions through Primary Care Mental Health Services. All we could do as parents was support her through it and speak to school regularly to force them to work in collaboration, but it didn’t change anything at all and the bullying continued for a few years, with us constantly battling for a solution.
I heard about Kidscape through a local parent network. I was willing to try anything for my daughter to finally feel free again. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly felt good to have local support. It felt like I was in the right place at the right time. We attended the very first ZAP anti-bullying workshop in Newport. Straight away, the Kidscape team made us feel so welcome, and it helped our nerves simmer down somewhat.
It was emotional hearing other parent’s stories of their own situations with their children yet empowering knowing that you were coming away with clear strategies to move forward, with the loneliness and isolation lifted for both me and my daughter. During the workshop, I could hear my daughter laughing from the room next door. It was a sound that I hadn’t heard in such a long time, and she was beaming when we came back together with our children. A bit of her confidence had already started to return.
Just a few months later, my daughter asked me if she could go back to watching Newport County AFC play. I was more than happy to purchase season tickets and return to Rodney Parade as a family once more. She sings her heart out at a game and it is so good to see her become more passionate about the things that she loved once before.
Kidscape’s workshop proved to be a huge turning point for us. I don’t think that people truly realise the huge impact that bullying can have on a child and also their families. I know the outcome could have been very different for us. I am not afraid to say that my own wellbeing took a hit – especially when I heard those words from my daughter. As much as I try, I think they will haunt me forever.
A time later, I was delighted to see Carole – Kidscape Representative for Wales in the marquee one match day doing activities with our young supporters and their families. My daughter just lit up when she saw Carole and gave her a huge hug whilst excitedly involving me in a ZAP activity that she had completed in the workshop.
It’s fantastic that Newport County AFC have an Official Charity Partnership with Kidscape. It means a lot to me personally to know that this help and support is available for the families and young supporters of the club that we have been following for years and enjoy watching as a family.
I have chosen to keep my daughter anonymous, as we are continuing to move forward from this situation, which takes a long time to overcome, however my daughter wanted me to share our story. She is now 11 years old, more confident, and resilient with a great group of friends, and looking forward to moving up to high school.
I have made my donation to the Newport County AFC Crowdfunder and voted for Kidscape. I truly cannot thank Kidscape enough for all that they have done for us, and I hope that they gain the front of shirt sponsorship and the platform that they truly deserve to raise more awareness and of the superb work that they do.
Advice and support for parents and carers
Kidscape offers friendly, impartial, non-judgmental information, advice and support to parents and carers. firstname.lastname@example.org