Bullies nearly turned my daughter into another statistic - mum reveals the torture her teenager suffered
- Credit: Rosa Mantiega and Roma Nicholson share how bullying has impacted their family. Picture: SOPHIE BARNETT
A young musician is urging other teenagers to learn to respect one another after she suffered at the hands of bullies.
Roma Nicholson, 13, was forced to move schools because of the bullying she suffered and she has spoken out about the experience during National Anti-Bullying Week.
Roma, who lives in Pinewood in Ipswich said she started “to believe what the haters were saying” and “didn’t feel confident” about who she was.
“I used to get bad verbal abuse and sometimes bullies would even attack me,” admitted the teen musician, who recently released a song entitled ‘Stronger’ on Mental Health Awareness day to help teens facing similar problems.
“Everybody is going through some kind of problem, whether it’s at home, at school or in work – we must learn to respect each other,” she continued.
Roma has used music as an escape over the years and her mother Rosa Manteiga admits she “cannot bear to think about what would’ve happened had Roma not gotten into singing”.
The 48-year-old teacher said: “Roma became withdrawn, she wouldn’t socialise and the only time she was at ease with herself was in the studio song writing – without her music to focus on she could have become another statistic.
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“One time she phoned me from school and I could hear the verbal abuse she was getting – that’s when I knew we needed to take the next step.”
Roma has now moved to Northgate High School, where she receives lots more support and has made great friends.
Rosa’s advice for other parents with children who are victims of abuse is to “keep talking to your child, the worst thing you can do is ignore it.”
What is Anti-Bullying week?
The week-long campaign has this year focused on the ‘choose respect’ over bullying message.
The week kicked off with Odd Socks Day on Monday which was led by children’s TV presenter Andy Day and his band The Odd Socks. This year the first ever ‘Stop Speak Support’ cyber bullying day took place as part of the event with the aim of reminding people that the digital world is still the real world, with real consequences.
What are schools doing to show their support?
Schools across Suffolk are getting involved in Anti-Bullying week.
Ipswich Prep School started off the week by asking pupils to wear brightly coloured mismatching socks which gave pupils the chance to express themselves and celebrate their individuality. The children were also taught that bullying is a behaviour choice and that it is fine to disagree with one another, but to show respect when doing so is essential.
A Year Six pupil from Ipswich Prep school, Hannah Atkins, said: “On odd socks day, wearing odd socks made me seriously think again about respecting others. I am proud to be part of a school that stands up to bullying.”
Speaking about Anti-Bullying week, head teacher of Ipswich Prep school Amanda Childs said: “We are fortunate that we do not have a bullying problem as we work hard to ensure the children can talk to a trusted adult if there is a small issue, and we can nip things in the bud early on.
“Weeks such as anti bullying week help us to focus but are part of a much bigger picture - where respect is part of our school culture.
“Care is our main school value and we try to help the children to respect each other and care for each other, no matter what our differences are and we in fact celebrate the differences.”
Throughout the week The Take Away Theatre Company have been visiting the school to look at specific scenarios with the children to consider different resolutions as a victim or as someone who witnesses bullying.
Students at the Woodbridge School have also been taking part in anti-bullying workshops to encourage them to learn through co-operation, while Ipswich High School‘s learning resource centre has provided a safe space for student’s to read about the effects of bullying.
While year six students from Whitton Primary School have been sharing their thoughts about choosing respect to tie in with this year’s anti-bullying campaign.
Messages on the wall read “when someone is sad, play with them” and “being someone’s friend is a better option”.
How you can get involved
There are a number of ways you can show your support, including becoming a member, raising money, donating or signing up to the school and college network.
Whether you’re a victim, a parent or a school wanting to get involved or receive some support visit the Anti-Bullying Alliance website.