THE family of teenage bullying survivor Brian Birchall has made an impassioned pleas for change with an emotional interview on national television and a petition for a public inquiry.
Speaking for the first time since the 12-year-old tried to take his own life in early March, Patrina Benton opened up to Channel 10’s The Project about the harrowing details of her son’s life as the target of bullies.
“Basically it started in grade 3, he was having issues in the playground,” she said.
“We lived out of town ,and the travelling to and from school on the bus was where he couldn’t get away from the bullying.”
Brian said it started with teasing about his red hair, and eventually escaped to name calling and then fights – including being “bashed” by a group of boys on the final day of school last year.
The incessant bullying not only caused the youth to switch schools seven times – four times directly because of bullying – but drove the youth to try and take his own life twice.
Brian has been out of school ever since his latest attempt, and Ms Benton said his safety was the number one priority above any and all legalities.
“If I’m breaking the law by keeping my son safe, come and charge me,” she said.
But that safety comes with a trade off, she told The Project host Lisa Wilkinson, as he was losing any chance of making any friends with his peers.
“He doesn’t have to be a school captain, he just has to be at school.”
Brian’s brother Murray Benton said the family had been left in a difficult position going forward.
“Do we now homeschool Brian, if he’s even eligible for that?” Mr Benton said.
“Or do we say ‘well you’ve had this experience, but, we’re going to force you to go back to school’?”
Brian himself said he would “definitely not” prefer to be back at school now, and urged someone to make a change before its too late for other students.
“It’s just going to build up, build up, build up until someone stops it or it gets to that point where this stuff – what I tried to do – starts to happen.”
Mr Benton and the Fight the Good Fight Against Bullying campaign has launched a petition calling for an inquiry into school bullying “in the public interest”.
The petition has already attracted more than 350 signatures.