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Father of schoolboy who hung himself calls for support of bullying victims
Updated 8:07am Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
The father of a schoolboy who hanged himself after being bullied relentlessly on the school bus has called for urgent support for young victims.
Paul Vodden's 11-year-old son Ben - a pupil at Tanbridge House School in Horsham, West Sussex - endured name calling, gesturing and swearing on school bus journeys, even from the driver.
The merciless bullying became too much for Ben and he hanged himself in his bedroom in December 2006.
Since then, Mr Vodden has attempted to tackle the issues surrounding bullying on school bus journeys and has been on a crusade to help others affected by bullies.
He has now produced a report with funding from the anti-bullying charity the Diana Award which highlighted that bullying often started on the school bus.
The Vodden Report revealed that 30% of respondents said bullying began on school bus journeys, and that 15% said the driver was aware it was happening.
Year 7 is the most likely year for bullying to start and 33% said they did not know where to find help or support, according to the online survey of more than 540 youngsters.
A total of 9% said they were so traumatised by bullying that they became suicidal, and 35% said bullying carried on for more than a year.
Mr Vodden said: "Children are placed on a school bus in a group over the composition of which they have no choice. There is no formal supervision and virtually no opportunity of avoiding conflict situations.
"This report reveals that the school bus journey is a potential environment for bullying which can quickly escalate and there is a lack of support for victims.
"This needs to be urgently addressed."
Key recommendations contained in the report include introducing volunteer chaperones and CCTV cameras on board buses, as well as training of school bus drivers.
Pat Harris, founder of Busk, which campaigns for child transport safety, said: "By simply talking to these young people and their drivers about their typical journeys, the evidence that this is commonplace was both shocking and overwhelming."
The findings of the survey will be launched tomorrow at the Busk Transport Safety Conference in Swindon, Wiltshire.
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