Court fear for mum whose daughter was targeted by bullies

Caroline Poole with her 16-year-old daughter Bethany.
Caroline Poole with her 16-year-old daughter Bethany.
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A MUM fears prosecution after a vicious bullying campaign forced her daughter out of school.

Teenager Bethany Poole’s life has been turned into a living nightmare after three years of torment.

Bethany, 16, of Ford Estate, left school more than a year ago after the daily threats, violence and attacks became too much for her to handle.

She started skipping school, her weight plummeted and she threatened to kill herself.

Fearing a fresh attack after being forced to hand over dinner money and having mobile phone videos of her being beaten sent around Academy 360, Bethany’s mum Caroline took her out of school.

But now, Caroline, 45, a part-time carer, has received a letter from the council threatening legal action unless the Year 11 pupil, who is due to take her GCSEs next month, returns to school.

Caroline said: “I just don’t know what to do any more. Bethany’s missing out on her education and childhood and everything. It’s heartbreaking.

“I’ve tried to get her transferred but the bullies found out and came outside my house and started threatening her.

“Bethany’s still not eating properly and she’s not sleeping. The bullies are still saying they want her dead.”

Academy 360 and Sunderland City Council say they are working with Bethany and Caroline and continue to offer her support but Caroline said the letter has just added pressure to her.

“They say I need to get her back into education but she won’t go back to school. There’s no way she will,” she said.

“She won’t even leave the house unless I’m with her.

“I’m scared in case she does something because she keeps saying she wants to die.”

Bethany said: “I feel like I’m not worth anything. I do worry about missing education but I can’t go back to school.

“I’ve lost all of my confidence. I’m fed up with it all.”

Sunderland City Council said it is working with the academy to devise a tailored programme to meet Bethany’s needs.

Meg Boustead, of the authority, said help is being offered to the family.

She said: “The letter the family received was a standard letter sent out to all parents of Year 11 pupils in the city as a reminder of their legal obligation to make sure their children attend school.

“Legal action is only ever taken as a last resort.”

Paul Prest, Academy 360 chief executive, said: “Academy 360 has been closely monitoring Bethany’s progress and regularly liaising with the relevant authorities.

“We are very well aware of the current situation.”

Last year, Northumbria Police formally warned five girls about making threats.