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Teenage suicide: girl was bullied every day 'No action' taken by school

AMOTHER whose teenage daughter committed suicide after being bullied at school claims the teenager suffered bullying and taunting on an almost daily basis right up to her death.

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She said the girl was regularly taunted by shouts of "zombie", "walking dead" and "gothic freak".

Rona Raphael has now begun a court action against her local council for failing to ensure her child's safety, and causing or contributing to her death.

Fifteen-year-old Nicola Raphael, from Kirkintilloch, took an overdose of painkillers in June 2001 after she was taunted by fellow pupils at Lenzie Academy.

Mrs Raphael said her daughter ended her life after she had stones and missiles thrown at her and endured name-calling almost every day.

The mother is suing East Dunbartonshire Council claiming it, and headteacher Roderick McLellan, failed in their duty to care for Nicola.

The council faces allegations it did not take effective action to stop the bullying and "caused or at least materially contributed" to the girl's death.

The council said it could not have been predicted that bullying would have caused Nicola to commit suicide.

Mrs Raphael claims her daughter was verbally and physically abused in a course of bullying during and after school hours. She further claims incidents were reported to the headteacher but no action was taken against the bullies and no effective antibullying policy was implemented.

Nicola and her friends stood out with their black goth style clothes and dark make-up and her family said she was the target of abuse from other teenagers.

Mrs Raphael alleges Nicola suffered bullying and taunting on an almost daily basis right up to her death. She said the girl was regularly taunted by shouts of "zombie", "walking dead" and "gothic freak".

Her submission to the court states she was assaulted by having soft drinks cans and stones thrown at her.

Mrs Raphael claims Nicola was intimidated and depressed by the assaults and bullying, which was reported on several occasions to the school and the headteacher.

She argues the council failed in their duty to take reasonable steps to ensure "a safe learning environment", "to investigate reports of bullying" and to ensure Lenzie Academy had implemented "effective reporting, recording investigation and handling of allegations of bullying".

Mrs Raphael has brought her action claiming pounds-20,000 for the "loss, injury and damage she suffered through the fault and negligence" of East Dunbartonshire Council.

The council is defending the action and claims it met all of its duties towards Nicola. Its defence states: "It was not reasonably foreseeable that harm of the type which resulted to the deceased would be caused by the acts of other pupils."

They claim both the council and the headteacher fulfilled their duties and claim the sum of pounds-20,000 is excessive.

Mrs Raphael initially failed to get legal aid to bring her civil case before the court, but aid has now been granted and the case was called at Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday. It was continued to allow Mrs Raphael's agents time to investigate the allegations.

Solicitor Malcolm Cameron, who is acting on behalf of Mrs Raphael, said: "It is a very sad and shocking state of affairs. The family want to focus on the legal case."

A spokeswoman for East Dunbartonshire Council, said: "As court proceedings are in progress it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

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