One of the young bullies who tormented a South Australian teenager until she ended her own life had a relentless history of harassing her schoolmates.
A mother left devastated by the death of 13-year-old surf life saver Libby Bell has revealed how her daughter was also a victim of bullying – from one of the same children who drove the young girl to end her own life.
The mother who doesn’t want to be named told Nine.com.au her ‘heart dropped’ when she heard of Libby’s death on August 28.
The woman’s daughter had been targeted for eight months during primary school. It was a campaign of terror which started with cruel texts from unknown numbers.
‘She was told to kill herself, told no one likes you, everyone hates you, asked why are you still here? It was vicious.’
‘My daughter was really proactive as far as blocking the contact, but it didn’t help.’
The mother said the school did help her daughter as much as they could but when the threats continued and police would not lodge a complaint she decided to confront the bullies herself.
‘I know what I did wasn’t right but I didn’t see another alternative and after that they completely left her alone.’
Libby was a Year 8 student at Seaford Secondary School.
Her distraught family have led tributes to their ‘beautiful, friendly’ girl and have urged parents to talk to their children about what they might be dealing with.
Clint Gow-Smith, Libby’s uncle, said it was important for children to understand it is ‘cool to speak up’.
‘She had a million-dollar smile, her face lit up the room, she just had a beautiful smile — that was our Libster,’ Mr Gow-Smith told Adelaide Now.
‘We understand schoolyard behaviour and what starts off as pointless teasing and ridicule which can soon escalate. So please, as a parent, hold your babies tight and for the teenagers, we plead for you kids to talk and walk tall.’
The teenager was allegedly filmed while being bullied at a fast food restaurant last year, one of many incidents her family believe led her to taking her own life.
While friends posted moving tributes to the outgoing young lifesaver, a family friend has started a GoFundMe for the Bell family.
Friends and family have since gathered at the Moana Surf Life Saving Club, where Libby was an active member since 2013.
A shrine has been created in her memory, and Surf Life Saving SA chief executive Clare Harris paid tribute to a ‘much loved and respected’ girl.
‘We are grieving the sudden and devastating loss of Libby,’ she said.
‘Staff and volunteers … stand with her family, friends and our members as we pull together to support each other.’
The Education Department has said it had ‘very strong’ anti-bullying policies.
‘It is really important that we are clear that bullying does have consequences,’ said child development executive director Ann-Marie Hayes.
For confidential support call, please contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 and www.lifeline.org.au
Kids helpline: 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
Headspace: 1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au