‘She just didn’t want to be here’: Mother and daughter speak out on bullying

School fears: Sharna Rose and daughter Alexia Brockway. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.
School fears: Sharna Rose and daughter Alexia Brockway. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.

A Dawesville girl has spoken out about the bullying she experienced in school and online that made her feel suicidal, and the violence she has been exposed to at the young age of 12-years-old.

Alexia Brockway, a Year 8 student from Halls Head College, said she was bullied on social media last year by a classmate she thought was her best friend. 

“People bully each other more online,” she said. 

“This one friend, who I thought was my best friend, told a bunch of people my secrets on an Instagram chat group, with about 15 people,” she said. 

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“I didn’t want to go back to school...she spread everything I ever told her.”

Alexia said Instagram and Snapchat were the main online platforms used by students to communicate.

Alexia’s mother Sharna Rose said she does not let her daughter use social media, but was unsure if that was the answer.

“I wonder, if the person is no longer on there defending themselves, if they still say things,” she said. “Social media is another way for people to single out victims.”

Alexia said fights regularly happened at the school, which left her feeling unsafe. 

They were hitting each other in the face and one kid was crying.

Alexia Brockway

The first fight she witnessed broke out between two boys inside her classroom during semester four last year. 

“They were punching each other and the teacher was just sitting at her desk on her phone,” she said.

“That was the first fight I ever saw in person, which was pretty scary. They were hitting each other in the face and one kid was crying.”

Alexia said a number of fights happened at recess and lunchtime, or at the bus stop after school. 

“I know if a fight does happen, teachers can’t really stop it,” she said.

Alexia said students sent the “disturbing” fight videos to each other on their phones during school hours. 

“People record the fights and just send them around,” she said. “But you get suspended if you have any on your phone.

It was making her depressed and forced her into a shell

Sharna Rose

“My friend was sent some recently and they were really disturbing.”

Although Alexia has never been physically hurt, she said there were a lot of people that wanted to fight her.

“They want to hit me for no reason...because I am not friends with this one girl or something,” she said. 

Ms Rose said the bullying affected her daughter’s mental health and made her feel suicidal.

“It was making her depressed and forced her into a shell,” she said. “She just didn’t want to be here.”

The trauma from bullying is felt both immediately at school and long after students have completed school, according to a March 2018 PwC consultancy study titled The Economic Cost of Bullying in Australian Schools.

“Whilst the bullying itself may stop after school, the potential consequences may continue to impact family and community members and the health system, in addition to the individual involved,” the study said. 

A Department of Education spokeswoman said schools had plans for individual students, with a range of measures to address poor behaviour.

“These can include mediation and psychology services, through to suspensions and in extreme cases, exclusion,” she said. 

The spokeswoman said families could help to tackle bullying. 

“Schools use the most effective strategies to help students turn their behaviour around, but these strategies will only be effective if positive behaviour is reinforced at home,” she said. 

“If a parent is not satisfied with the course of action taken by a school, they can contact their regional education office for advice.”

Support is available by calling Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Lifeline on 131 114, or beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36.

Follow journalist Carla Hildebrandt on Twitter at @hildebrandt_c