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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 10:22 GMT
Bullying claim after girl dies
Elaine and Christine Swift
Elaine (left) was a donor for her sister Christine
The head teachers of two schools attended by a teenage girl who committed suicide have defended their policies on bullying.

Elaine Swift died in Newcastle's Freeman Hospital on Tuesday after undergoing a liver transplant

The 16-year-old from Hartlepool needed the transplant after taking an overdose of up to 100 paracetamol tablets two weeks ago.

Her father alleges she was the victim of bullying by other pupils after she donated bone marrow to her sister, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997.

Bill Jordon
Bill Jordon said Elaine was in the school's thoughts

The head teacher at Brierton Comprehensive in Hartlepool, Stuart Priestly said: "Whatever the sort of bullying, there is some reaction.

"It may be that all that is needed is some counselling of the alleged bully.

"We've got a policy which says that youngsters who persistently or seriously bully can be excluded permanently from our school."

Elaine had been transferred from Brierton to Dyke House Comprehensive School in Hartlepool.

The head teacher at Dyke House Bill Jordon said: "The school takes the subject [of bullying] very seriously and we have stringent policies in place to deal with bullying claims."

Brave act

He told BBC News 24 that the school had held special prayers for Elaine.

"This morning's [Wednesday] assembly took the form of saying prayers for Elaine and talking to the children about the sadness we all feel."

In a newspaper interview, Elaine's father Ben Swift blamed poor bullying policies for his daughter's death.

He alleges she suffered years of abuse from other pupils after being noted for her bravery.

Elaine was featured in the local news media on Teesside when she underwent a bone marrow donation for her younger sister Christine, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1997.

'Acted properly'

Mr Swift reported the bullying to the police and to the local education authority.

A spokesman for Hartlepool LEA said they were satisfied that both schools had acted properly.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police told BBC News Online: "Allegations have been made to the police, but there is no police involvement and it has been passed to the coroner."

Children's charity Childline say 20,000 children complain about bullying every year, with 700 of them contacting the telephone helpline with suicidal thoughts.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

21 Nov 01 | England
13 Nov 01 | Education
05 Nov 01 | Education
23 Feb 01 | Education
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