A SCHOOLBOY tried to hang himself aged just nine after being racially abused by vile bullies.
Caleb Hills, who has learning difficulties, was repeatedly taunted by fellow pupils who called him the “n-word” over a two-year campaign of abuse.
His mum Tyler said her “lovely, bubbly, talkative” boy’s personality “changed dramatically” and last summer he attempted to take his own life.
Recalling the horror, she said: “He tried to hang himself. I found him in his bedroom. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach, and helpless.
“He said ‘they keep calling me mean things, they’re not nice to me, I keep telling the teachers but they’re not listening.”
Tyler says their problems started when Caleb joined The Orchard School in Canterbury, Kent, in September 2017.
The school, which teaches children with special needs, has four pupils of mixed ethnic background out of 101 students with almost 200 “racial incidents” in the two years when Caleb studied there.
‘I DIDN’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL’
Tyler first discovered her son, now aged ten, was being bullied when he told her he had been called the n-word.
Speaking about his ordeal, Caleb said: “It made me angry and upset because I know what the n-word actually means.
“I didn’t want to go to school because they harassed me all day.”
Tyler claims she raised the issue with the school, but said he was made to sit and accept his bullies’ apology as they paid “lip service” to the school’s behaviour system.
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She has now removed Caleb, who is on anti-depressants, from the establishment but fears it will be another year before a space is found for him at an appropriate special needs school.
Kent County Council has agreed to pay for Caleb to attend an independent school but in the meantime, Tyler is looking after him “24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
The Orchard School head teacher Annabel Lilley says it takes reports of bullying or inappropriate behaviour “extremely seriously”.
“We are a special school and a very high proportion of our primary-aged pupils have additional speech, language and communication needs,” she added.
“This means they can sometimes use language that is inappropriate and can be hurtful to other pupils and on occasions, including in this case, the words used may relate to another pupil’s race or heritage.
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“As a school we use restorative justice to teach our pupils their behaviour is inappropriate and to help them understand the impact their words can have on others. All our teaching staff have had appropriate training in how to make best use of restorative justice and we believe it is effective in the majority of cases.
“The local authority and the school’s full governing body carried out thorough investigations into the way staff use restorative justice to deal with these types of incidents and both organisations were satisfied with the findings, as was Ofsted.
“School staff, governors, the local authority and I worked extensively with Caleb’s mother to try to bring about a solution that Ms Hills would be satisfied with and that would enable him to remain here. Caleb was well-liked and was doing well and we are sorry he is no longer a part of our school community.”
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans on (free) 116123