Can a Coronation Street storyline help the bullying crisis?

by take-a-break |
Updated on

A current Coronation Street storyline shows a teenage boy reach breaking point because of bullies. We speak to one mum about the devastating impact being bullied can have…

When Emma Ward* looked at her daughter’s phone to check her social media accounts last August, she was horrified by what she saw. Her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, had reams of messages calling her ugly and stupid and threatening that if she came to school, she would be beaten up.

Emma, 40, says, “I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I knew that she was being bullied at school and it was having a huge effect on her mental health. But I just thought we could get through it. I had no idea quite how bad things had got. escalated “Taylor started to withdraw from us. We spent time trying to make changes. Her school said they would move the bullies from her class, which they did – but the bullying just continued online and escalated.

“When I asked Taylor about it, she just sobbed and said it would be better for everyone if she wasn’t here anymore. I couldn’t believe we’d got to this point where my precious daughter thought that taking her own life was the best option.”

The number of children having counselling for cyberbullying has more than doubled in five years. Online bullying is a contributing factor for many young people having thoughts of suicide and, shockingly, over 200 schoolchildren die by suicide every year in the UK. Bullying and its devastating effects is something that a storyline in Coronation Street is currently tackling.

Viewers will see a desperate Liam Connor (played by Charlie Wrenshall) contemplating taking his own life when his mental health hits rock bottom after suffering months of bullying, both in person and online. In an hour-long episode, viewers will discover the depths of Liam’s despair as he is seen searching online for ways to end his life, but is luckily interrupted by his mum, Maria (played by Samia Longchambon).

Emma first noticed something was wrong with her daughter in April last year. She says, “Taylor wasn’t her usual bubbly self and I put it down to the fact we were due to move a couple of miles away from where we lived in Newport. She struggled with change so I just thought she’d be fine once we were in and settled. “But weeks passed and she still wasn’t herself. My husband, Anthony, was just as worried. I asked her teachers to keep an eye on her and they admitted her school work was slipping.

“Taylor had asked to have social media so she could contact her friends whenever she wanted, so I agreed to let her have Snapchat. She also regularly used a computer game which had a private messaging function – and as she loved dancing, I allowed her to download TikTok. I was very careful with the privacy settings and would check she hadn’t accepted requests from strangers.

“A few weeks later, Taylor was upset, and my youngest daughter, Mya, 10, told me it was because her friends had laughed at a video she’d posted of herself dancing. I gave her a hug and we deleted the people who’d been unkind, and I thought it was over.

“But she continued to be down. She would burst into tears over the smallest things and was very jumpy. She confessed about the bullying to us and we were working with the school to get it sorted.
“It wasn’t until I checked her phone and found the vile messages that I realised quite how bad it was. A few of the comments told her she was so ugly she should sue her parents and kill us. They were all from girls in her class.”

When Taylor confided to her mum that she’d had suicidal thoughts, Emma took her to the GP. She says, “The doctor suggested anti-depressants. We were shocked and decided against them as we felt she was too young to be relying on medication. It was devastating for all of us. We went to the school and they agreed to look into the messages and speak to the girls who’d sent them. But I worried for Taylor’s mental health, so we decided to home-school her while we looked for another school.

“Six months on, Taylor has just started a new school and things are going well. I feel really guilty that I didn’t realise what was going on earlier, though. When I allowed her to go on social media, I was worried about strangers and made her promise not to add anyone she didn’t know. I didn’t imagine the threat was from her so-called friends. They all seemed like such nice girls. It just shows that when hiding behind a screen, anyone can turn nasty.

“Now I want to raise awareness. The quicker parents are able to spot it, the less of a problem it’ll become. It’s great that Coronation Street is covering such an important topic. Hopefully it’ll get people talking.”

Coronation Street’s Samia Longchambon has two children – 13-year-old Freya and seven-year-old Yves. She tells Take a Break about why this storyline is so important. She says, “It’s been really emotional to film these scenes. I was bullied throughout my childhood and it was so hard.

“And now I’m a parent myself, it’s even harder to think about bullying. But hopefully this storyline might help other kids going through it. Even bullies who watch, it might make them think twice about what they are doing to other kids and how it might affect them.

“My advice to anyone suffering is that it’s important to talk to people. Don’t bottle things up. I know there is stigma about being a ‘snitch’, but you need to tell an adult and friends.”

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us