Amanda Holden 0:07: It happens at school, in the street and even online. Bullying can happen anywhere and as the newspaper headlines show the effects can be devastating. But behind every headline there are stories of real people.
VO Amanda Holden 0:23: Stephen McCloy was Meg’s youngest child and her only son, when he started secondary school she noticed a big change in his behaviour.
VO Meg McCloy 0:35: He went from this happy-go-lucky young boy, always smiling, always carrying on, would do anything to please you.
Meg McCloy 0:44: To turning into an angry; angry young man who just wasn't enjoying his life at all.
VO Amanda Holden 0:50: Stephen wouldn't tell anyone why he was so unhappy. He began spending more and more time on his computer and then one night he took an overdose. He spent the next week in hospital, by now his Mum had a good idea that the problem was bullying.
Meg McCloy 01:10: I begged him when he came out the hospital, what can we do, don't ever do that again, what can we do to help you, what can the family do and if you mentioned bullying he would get really really upset, he did not want to acknowledge it. He didn't want to speak about it.
VO Amanda Holden 01:24: Meg tried everything to get help for her son, she asked if he could change school.
Meg McCloy: 01:30: He said no no it’s exam time. You can't possibly change schools just now.
VO Amanda Holden 01:36: Meg took Stephen to the local GP who called in a psychiatric nurse.
Meg McCloy 01:41: I said but I'm scared in case he kills himself and they said well if that happens you need to phone the police.
VO Amanda Holden 01:48: Two months later that’s exactly what did happen. Stephen hanged himself.
VO Meg McCloy 01:55: And I'll never forget it, it started snowing that night and it was really wet outside.
Meg McCloy 01:59: And I just collapsed on to the ground, I couldn't, my legs wouldn't take me out of the house and my neighbours came out, sorry, and they picked me up.
VO Amanda Holden 02:14: He was seventeen.
Meg McCloy 02:20: This was Stephen’s note. The very first line said ‘I have been bullied all my life’. He needed somebody that he could talk to; he obviously couldn't talk to us. At the bottom of it he’s put ‘Thanks for having me’ and it was really our pleasure to have him.
VO Amanda Holden 02:52: The tragedy in Stephen’s case was that his online history showed he'd been looking for help.
Amanda Holden 02:58: And the help was there, if only he’d found it.
VO Amanda Holden 03:04: Just like Stephen many victims of bullying feel there’s nowhere to turn, but there is. BeatBullying reaches out online using trained anonymous volunteer mentors, who talk to the users about how they can deal with the bullying. Some of these mentors have been bullied themselves.
Meg McCloy 03:21: I didn't know about BeatBullying until after Stephen had died and I was looking to see if there was any help out there for kids and that’s when I discovered that. I think if that was something Stephen had known about, that he could of used then I think that would have been the support he was needing. Somebody just anonymously at the other end of a PC to respond and acknowledge what he was going through.
VO Amanda Holden 03:46: The online mentors talk about how the young people can deal with the bullying but if the case is serious they refer them to a trained counsellor.
BeatBullying Counsellor 03:55: If I can show you this counselling session that went on, so this is between myself and a young girl. Basically she’s being bullied at school because her parents have split up.
VO Young Girl 04:06: I've started cutting myself again. I'm so angry as I haven't cut for over eight months until today… now I feel even more useless.
BeatBullying Counsellor 04:16: So she’s taking the blade out of her pencil sharpener to cut herself.
VO Amanda Holden 04:21: If the counsellor believes the young person is a threat to themselves they call in help.
BeatBullying Counsellor 04:27: We call 999, we get someone out to them immediately.
VO Amanda Holden 04:29: As a mother I find it appalling but I feel so much safer in the knowledge that
Amanda Holden 04:36: a website like BeatBullying can be a place, a safe haven for some of these kids to turn to when there is absolutely nowhere else to go.
Meg McCloy 04:46: I don’t want anybody else to have their kids let down. I don't want kids sitting, being bullied, not being able to sleep all night because they're terrified of going to school the next day. Terrified of the next time their phone bleeps. You just want that kid to have somewhere to turn to and get the help and support they need.
BeatBullying is a bullying prevention charity, campaigning to make bullying unacceptable and providing support for children and young people affected by bullying.
Emma-Jane Cross, Chief Executive and founder of BeatBullying shares how Text Santa will make a huge difference to young people.
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a Text Santa Charity?
Absolutely thrilled and honoured, not only because the extra funding will make the most enormous difference to the young people we work with and will quite literally save lives, but also because it proves that bullying is finally being recognised as a serious child safety issue.
Every day thousands of children in this country go through the pain and humiliation of being bullied – in the classroom, on their way home from school, when they go online. For too long, the devastating effects have been largely ignored or dismissed as part of growing up, but with Text Santa’s help, we can raise awareness of this issue and support the millions of young people who lie in bed at night terrified to go to school the next morning.
What has been the general response from your supporters to the news?
Our loyal supporters are very excited about the news that Text Santa will be supporting BeatBullying, as they’re hugely passionate about the cause. We’ve even had messages of support from families who have lost children as a result of bullying, who are pleased that the issue is being recognised and taken seriously.
What are you most looking forward to about the experience?
We’re most looking forward to seeing the impact of the awareness raising as a result of the Text Santa experience. We already offer advice and support to hundreds of thousands of young people via our website, but unfortunately we know there are many more out there who we haven’t yet reached. This support will help us to make sure that every child knows they have someone to turn to, and will allow us to empower more young people understand, recognise, and say no to bullying, violence and harassment.