Man ‘still suffers psychological trauma’ 11 years after severe bullying at Sheffield school
Severe bullying at his former school has left a lasting impact on a Sheffield man as he is still struggling to cope with everything in his life, 11 years on.
Now 27, Jonathan Dexter said he was bullied throughout his time at Meadowhead School Academy Trust and felt saddened that "not much has changed since."
He was referring to a bullying incident at the school last March, where a girl was shoved to the ground in a video that had gone viral.
He then sent a lengthy email to the school and expressed his concern about the bullying culture, which he said still appears to be rife since he left. The school’s headteacher has not responded to him.
His email read: "I was bullied from Year 7 all the way through to Year 11. More people picked on me than didn't. I was lucky the abuse was never physical.
"There is an old saying 'sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you'...truth be told, psychological and verbal abuse can leave deeper and longer lasting scars than physical.
"During my years at your school, I admittedly had an odour problem. Which was later realised to be medical, and has since been rectified.
"Not once did anyone within your staff department question if it was medical. They just seemingly assumed because I was overweight and from a poor background, that I was lazy.
"I was bullied for that and several teachers took great pleasure in reprimanding and publicly humiliating me over it."
Jonathan, who has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2019, said the school "did not care" that he was being bullied despite being well aware of his situation.
He said: "Since Year 9, I've had suicidal thoughts. When I opened to the few people I thought were friends about this, their response was 'why don't you do it then?'.
"Luckily, I managed to quieten those thoughts for eight years before I acted upon them. I am incredibly fortunate to still be here and say that."
He said after his diagnosis, he is now undergoing lengthy therapy to cope with his mental health. He is also unfit to work due to his condition.
"One of the common traits of the condition, and thought to be a factor in the illness developing is historical trauma.
"I have had to handle a lot of trauma, but the bulk happened at school.
"When my cousin died, the school provided me with no support. When I was bullied, teachers joined in. On the biggest day of my life at that point, I was ignored and left alone."
Jonathan said while he understood the past year has been difficult and challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this doesn’t excuse bullying going unchecked.
"I also appreciate successive Governments have cut funding within the Education sector, however that does not provide a legitimate excuse for bullying to go unchallenged.
"Especially as the School back in 2008 were committing to implementing anti-bullying strategies. By 2021 those plans should be formalised and have been practised on a whole raft of students,” he said.
Asked how he would help the school tackle the bullying problems, he said they he hoped to open a dialogue on using his experience, to help bring much needed change to Meadowhead.
"I’ve received a message from my bullies and the reason why they bullied me because they went through pain themselves.
"So if the school hires a trained counselor who could identify the cases and have someone to talk to, or even some skills to cope, it might help reduce things and not just tackle it whenever it happens.
"I don’t know if it’s still the case where teachers are contributing (to the bullying culture), but the recent incident shows that it seems like the school isn’t doing anything,” he said.
According to Meadowhead anti-bullying policy as stated in its website, the policy was enforced to create “a supportive and caring atmosphere in school where bullying behaviour is very much the exception.”
The policy states: “Children coming in to Meadowhead School should be reassured that bullying is dealt with very promptly by all of us. We are very firm in our dealings with children who bully and in our support of children who are bullied.
“We recognise that there are different kinds of bullying and we strongly encourage children to tell us when things are not going well.
"The older students are reminded of their responsibility towards younger children and the PSHE/Ethics programme provides opportunities to discuss and explore bullying behaviour.
“The School's Anti-bullying Code, which is displayed extensively throughout the school is shown below. By constantly reinforcing the message in assemblies, in the classroom, on corridors and in the playground, we try to ensure that all children come to school secure in their own personal safety.”
But in his follow-up email to the school, which also has not been responded to, Jonathan said he was adamant to bring change, by speaking to his local Councillor to start a campaign.
"I personally would’ve benefited from a trained therapist at school. Who for a few weeks, an hour a week, I could talk to about what I was going through and help provide me the tools to deal with that.
"There is also the need for teachers, to commit to tackling and stopping bullying when and wherever they see it...I was quiet and timid in school, due to how I was treated.
"I am now, although broken and now disabled, I am strong willed in bringing about positive change,” he said.
The Star has yet to receive any response from the school.