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JESSICA'S DIARY OF DESPAIR; Parents helpless as bully terrorises daughter.


THE writing looks like it could be the diary of any normal schoolgirl.

But the pages of Jessica O'Connell's memories tell a story of pain and despair.

While schoolmates keep secret diaries of boyfriends and pals, nine-year-old Jessica's thoughts are of suicide.

The terrified schoolgirl has suffered two years of torment at the hands of a bully.

And she has kept a painful account of her agony.

When she was just seven she wrote this note: "To mummy, I wish I was dead so I don't have to suffer any more pain. I love you."

In another entry, Jessica scrawled in large letters: "I hate it, I really, really do."

Jessica's diaries are full of harrowing details of beatings, taunts and jeers from her tormentor.

Once, the bully held her head under water during a swimming lesson and told her she was going to die.

The diary entry reads: "Today in the afternoon xxxxx threatened to kill me, but I was on my own when she said it."

Another time, the schoolgirl bully beat her so hard her back was covered in bruises.

The bullying has taken its toll. Jessica has lost almost half a stone and is being treated for self- harming.

Her mum, Sarah, 34, said: "She makes herself sick at the thought of going to school.

"The school have told the girl off, watched her at playtimes and even employed another teacher to protect Jessica. But it doesn't stop.

"They refuse to put the girl out of the school. But I don't see how anything else will put an end to it."

Alarm bells started ringing when Sarah and husband Graham, 37, noticed Jessica was withdrawn and tearful.

They asked the school if they had noticed any problems. And just before a meeting with her teacher, Jessica broke down.

Sarah said: "She told me this girl had been kicking and punching her at playtime. She had also been getting the other girls to gang up on her."

Jessica goes to St Wilfred's RC primary school in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

But her mum has turned to the Record after hearing about our Save Our Kids campaign.

Sarah said: "My mum lives in Stenhousemuir and she told me about the Record's campaign.

"I am so glad that someone is highlighting this problem. Social services won't help. They say we are not a problem family so there is nothing they can do."

Children's charity Kidscape advised Sarah to keep a diary.

She said: "I showed it to the head teacher, but it didn't help.

"We even took pictures of the bruises on Jessica's back, but the head says his hands are tied.

"We don't want to take Jessica out of the school because this is not her fault, but I can't have her thumped any longer. She has been harming herself. She can't sleep at night, she makes herself sick and has fallen behind in her schoolwork.

"Before all this she was a happy, outgoing little girl. She loved school.

"Now she will never be the same again. I have lost her. She will be scarred for life."

North Yorkshire County Council would not discuss individual cases. But they said bullying was taken seriously.

A spokesman said: "The school has a very effective child protection policy.

"We believe that a significant strength of the school is its good attitude, behaviour and personal development of pupils."

Last year, the Record was inundated with calls when we told how 12-year- old Emma Morrison committed suicide after being tormented by bullies.

Her death sparked our Save Our Kids campaign, aimed at cutting Scotland's shameful youth suicide rate.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 24, 2003
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