Bullying is everywhere in the world and affects all manner of people. There are many great organisations and groups who are dedicated to reducing bullying and supporting those who are subjected to it. Despite of society’s best efforts, bullying is still prevalent, and carries with it, the significant negative impact on the mental state of its ‘victims’. In some instances, bullying can even expand to hate as J found out.

J is a 16 year old girl who experienced hate crime because of the racial bullying she was subjected to. As a young person who accessed our services, her story tells of how she encountered and dealt with bullying. J is of mixed heritage. Her and her family lived in many places across the world where they embraced various cultures before settling in England for the last four years. J loved travelling and living in the different countries but was finally happy to settle in England and didn’t want to move again for a while.

J had recently experienced a racial attack from two girls who verbally abused her. On a separate occasion, the two girls had also been violent towards her, leaving her with numerous injuries. She suffered a split lip, multiple bruises and other various wounds around her body. Not only was J subjected to the adverse physical effects of bullying, she also suffered distressing mental repercussions. The incident distressed her and left her feeling uneasy. She found herself apprehensive to go outside, frightened to leave the house on her own. She wasn’t only scared for herself but for her mother too. The act of bullying doesn’t only affects the ‘victim’ but their wider life, their family, their friends. Although J’s confidence had slowly begun to grow and she had started to leave the house to visit friends, J worried that her parents were constantly worrying about her and so made an effort not to stay out too long that she might make them feel a little more at ease.

J wanted someone to talk to about the incidents as she feared confiding in her parents would add to their concern and worry them further which she so desperately wanted to avoid. She was also keen to build her own self confidence which she felt diminished after the incident.

Although J had experienced such unfair behaviour, she was very understanding about the incident and harboured no resentment. She said she felt sorry for the girls who attacked her as they hadn’t been properly educated and felt that their parents must not have taught them adequately. J had also said that she dislikes being called a victim as she was only a victim at the time of the attack, but she has moved past it now and is a strong person. The support she received from her family and friends really helped her recover and overcome the incident.

After just two meetings J no longer required contact. She had accepted the incident as something that had happened and something she could now move on from. She had since returned to the place where the attack happened for the first time on the last day she met with Young Devon. Although J was anxious to do this, she really felt that it helped.

Bullying is a challenging issue to deal with. And although eradicating bullying is the ultimate agenda, until we get there, support and action against bullying is what we can offer. For anyone who feels subjected to any form of bullying, knows someone who is, or needs help to assist someone who is, Young Devon can help. Our Early Help for Mental Health project accommodates services for counselling and mentoring, and also provides hub groups where young people can create and engage in a support network with other young people to share their experiences. We also offer specialist Victim Care Support for young people; a service to support them deal with the emotional distress from crime and an online counselling service with Kooth is also available if face to face communication is a little uncomfortable. These services are here to help in the way that support is needed for the benefit of our young people.