It’s for this reason Queensland mum Shellie Ross waited until after her daughter Lily had left for school on Wednesday to take the opportunity to tidy up her room.
Sadly, what she found among the dirty clothes and scattered toys was a quiet cry for help.
The mother-of-two from the Sunshine Coast found a troubling note written by her 10-year-old daughter, discovered after her oldest son saw it hiding in Lily’s Nintendo DS game.
“Some of the time I’m really sad that I feel broken,” the handwritten note read.
“My heart just broke as a parent,” Shellie told Seven News of the heartbreaking letter. She said her son was also “devastated” for his sister.
The Mt Coolum resident knew her daughter was being targeted by bullies at school, having been diagnosed with severe anxiety at the age of eight. Lily is a year older than her classmates, and taller and more mature, her mum said.
Children explain in their own words how bullying is affecting their lives and why it’s wrong. Post continues after video.
But that night, Shellie asked her daughter about the note. After first getting upset about her privacy being violated, Seven News reports the Year Four student broke down and confided to her mum about the full extent of the bullying she was being subjected to.
“She has had her hair cut, sand thrown in her eyes, food thrown at her and her bag thrown in the toilet… she can’t take it anymore with the bullying… it’s horrifying to hear.”
Shellie then shared a photo of her daughter’s note in a private Facebook group, feeling like she had nowhere else to turn after her 13 attempts to contact the school, and the Education Department twice, were ignored.
“To everyone on here who is a parent please sit and talk to your children. Let them know it is NOT OK to bully others and it causes real pain even if they don’t see how much someone is hurting …..they are on the inside,” she wrote.
Other parents in the group sympathised with Shellie’s situation, angry that six months after the death by suicide of Dolly Everett, seemingly nothing has changed with bullying in schools. Unfortunately, many said they are going through the same thing with their children.
“Oh gosh this even breaks my heart, Going through the exact same thing,” one wrote.
Another commented, “My daughter went to four schools and [the bullies] chased her tracking her on Facebook. No escape these days.”
“I hope your youngest is OK because she has the love of her mother, siblings and family. Stay strong,” another user commented.
“It’s heart breaking when you know your child is feeling this way.”
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Research from the national Government initiative Bullying No Way estimates a quarter of Year Four to Year Nine students say they’re bullied at school every few weeks, or more.
Bullying can take the form of physical violence, such as hitting, pushing or physically intimidation, verbal bullying by speaking in an abusive way about a person’s appearance, background, personality, race or religion, and online bullying which follows young people home by targeting them through their social media accounts.
For Shellie, the most important thing that could come out of her family’s experience is for others to know bullying is just not OK.
“My main reasoning for making this post is for parents. To ask all in our community to please please talk to your children help them to understand that even calling some fat, skinny, black, stupid or any other forms of taunting is not right,” she wrote online.
“Explain to them that people really do hurt on the inside and sometimes we cannot always see how someone is feeling. I took to social media to reach out to the community as a parent of a child who now feels broken and I to am broken, not being able to fix it for her.”
Has your family been affected by bullying? How do you talk to your children about bullying?