It’s something that 1.5 million young people say they’ve faced in the last year. This is a story of a child damaged by bullying and recovering through the TLG experience.
Pre-school Phoebe was a happy and confident child. After just a few years at primary school, all that had changed because of bullying. As any would, her parents approached the school for help. They were told that Phoebe’s inability to cope with her peers would follow her from school to school.
When Phoebe was physically attacked by a child in her class and nothing was done about it, this was the final straw and her parents moved her. She had a really happy year in a new school, making friends with a nice group of children. But it was when Phoebe started secondary school that, once again, she experienced bullying and social isolation.
Her mother decided to move jobs so that she could meet her after school and travel home with her. She would arrive to find Phoebe taut with stress every day. Phoebe would charge ahead and have so much pent up in her she wouldn’t speak; she was engulfed in misery and anger. It made home life so difficult; she took her anger out on her family, with the exception of her elder sister with special needs, to whom she was invariably kind. Phoebe’s relationship with her sister was the only window through which her family could see the remnants of the kind child that she was when she was less unhappy.
They discussed options. Home schooling seemed the best one, but her parents were anxious that this would disempower Phoebe and add to her sense of being a social failure. They considered taking out a second mortgage and sending her to private school, but were worried history could repeat itself there. They recognised that what Phoebe needed most was a change in her self-perception. As a result of her experiences and the things being said to her at school, she believed she was ugly, stupid, irritating and unlovable.
When, by chance, the family first came into contact with TLG they had no idea what good, if any, it would do but simply thought it would “buy some time” while they regrouped. They couldn’t have predicted the true outcome.
What TLG did for Phoebe was give her several months in which her confidence was painstakingly built up from the floor to the point where she was floating. Staff at the TLG Education Centre she attended cared about her. They asked her how she felt. They did fun things together. Phoebe hated birthday parties because she associated these with bad memories. On her birthday, her teachers changed that pattern by taking her and the rest of the group out to celebrate.
At TLG, she had six solid months of no nastiness, no dread or stress. She had the sensation of being valued and secure.
The extent of change in her is immense. If Phoebe hadn’t received the help she did, the damage might have been irreversible. Instead Phoebe emerged from TLG entirely changed. The depth, warmth, insightfulness of staff, the fun, even the schoolwork, was transformative. Phoebe made friends and she discovered that she was not innately dislikeable, as she had grown to believe.
She has now returned to mainstream school and is doing ok. Does she still face pressure from other students? Yes. But what has changed is her ability to better process what is going on, to recover from unpleasantness, to manage far better now than she ever did in her previous school history.
Phoebe is happier. TLG has restored what others had taken from her.