Bullying Suicides: Parents Call For New Law

Stephen Douglas, Sky News Reporter
Bullying Suicides: Parents Call For New Law

A group of parents who say their children committed suicide after being bullied are calling on David Cameron to introduce a new law to tackle the problem.

In a letter to the Prime Minister the group have asked the Government to create a new offence of bullying and intimidation. They also want the coalition to introduce an anti-bullying strategy for the UK.

Child protection campaigner Shy Keenan claims her 14-year-old son was "bullied to death".

Ayden Olson was found dead earlier this year at his family home in Colchester, Essex in an apparent suicide.

His mother told Sky News: "He was lovely and we were so looking forward to him growing up. We tried working with the policies in place and it just wasn't enough.

"Then I'm looking at my little boy on the floor dead and I'm thinking they have to listen now, this can't be allowed to happen because they're killing kids.

"We want new ways to protect children from all forms of bullying. At the moment it's not even illegal to bully. We don't want to criminalise children but the first step is to take bullying seriously."

Ms Keenan has been joined by other families who have been through similar experiences.

Aaron Dugmore was nine years old when he hanged himself at his home.

His mother, Kelly Dugmore, said: "It's still very raw, we're still very numb. He was just nine. You'd never think a child of that age would even think of taking his own life. He just must have been so traumatised. The law needs to change."

The families want to meet Mr Cameron and have all signed a letter to him which reads: "For our families and the brothers and sisters of those we've lost, nothing can be the same again.

"On behalf of all children who have experienced bullying, and their families, we are calling on you and your Government to take action to help prevent more people suffering in this way.

"Together we can stop bullying in our society. Please give us your support and meet with us to discuss how we make bullying unacceptable, once and for all."

The potential legislation is being called Ayden's law after Ms Keenan's son, and the campaign is being led by charity BeatBullying.

Its deputy chief executive Richard Piggin said: "The latest Government statistics show that as many as 46% of young people will have experienced bullying.

"For us it's about those one in 13 who experience it day in day out. They need protection and we need to make sure the perpetrators take responsibility for their actions."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Bullying can have a devastating effect on the lives of victims and their families and we are clear that it must not be tolerated.

"It is important that all children know where they can go for help and are confident that their problems will be dealt with seriously and sensitively. 

"Every school must have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying. This Government has issued new guidance to ensure schools are clear on their responsibilities in protecting children from bullying and has also given teachers new powers to tackle bullying quickly and effectively.

"To reinforce this, Ofsted now clearly holds schools to account on how well they deal with behaviour and bullying and since January last year inspectors must consider pupils’ freedom from bullying, harassment and discrimination. 

"The Department for Education works with organisations including the Anti-Bullying Alliance and BeatBullying as part of its on-going work to tackle bullying and there are a range of laws in place to protect people from all forms of bullying."