My boy beat the bullies and now he helps others
Mum Trish Bermingham knows better than most the impact bullying can have on a family.
She witnessed first-hand how her young son Luke suffered as a result of playground jibes and exclusion from other youngsters.
Now aged 17, Luke is a talented young sportsman who uses his experiences to help other children who may be bullied, but Trish says he experienced tough times when he was aged 10 and the bullying started.
And she says that even though it could have been regarded as relatively low-level by those who didn’t go through it, it had a huge impact on her boy.
“Luke does not want to be seen as a victim and coming through those experiences have shown him the importance of being empowered,” stresses Trish.
The difficulties started when he was 10 and people he’d been friends with for years started to treat him differently. Suddenly, Trish says, he was being excluded by his peers at his west of Ireland school, without being given any reason why.
“He became much less inclined to go to school. Sport, which was, and still is, a major passion for him, was avoided, even his favourites like soccer and GAA.
“I knew that something was going on from the outset and I am glad that straight away Luke started confiding in me.
“People he’d been friends with for years were treating him differently.
“There was a lot of exclusion involved. They would leave him out.”
The effects on her young son, she says, were numerous.
“Insomnia was a big problem because he’d be worrying about what was going to happen the next day.
“He stopped playing sport and his self-confidence was massively reduced.
“It may seem low-level, but imagine going to work one day, and nobody speaking to you, or telling you why.
“Now imagine that happening to a 10-year-old.”
After making efforts to resolve the situation, the family decided that moving to a new school was the best option for Luke.
“He’s now a tall, strong, funny, happy teenager who has made new friends, but it took him a couple of years to fully get back on track.”
“I was incredibly lucky that my son was sharing what was going on in school with me," says Trish.
“I hope our experience could help other families and now I work as a volunteer for Childline. My advice to parents would be to listen to your kids.
“I would also say to try not to take over as the problem solver.
“Make sure that your child’s school engages with and believes in anti-bullying policies.
The ISPCC has an anti-bullying tool kit programme that it runs with schools and I can’t support it highly enough.
“And where it is possible, help build your child’s general self-belief, so that something like this doesn’t break them.”
For more information or to get involved check out the ISPCC website