Refuge from the bullies

My family and I live on a council estate in north London. We’ve
been in the same flat for nearly 11 years – that’s my entire life.
When I was little I really liked living on the estate. There was a
good playground with loads of swings to play on and lots of other

But when I was six, I started getting bullied by an older group.
Since then things have never really been the same for my family and
me. I would go as far to say life on the estate has been pretty
miserable for us.

I never walk around on my own because I don’t feel safe. I’m
worried there’ll be kids hiding around corners and that they’ll
jump out and attack me. I can’t even walk to school on my own and
it’s only a few minutes down the road from where we live.

I’ve been kicked and punched so many times I’ve lost count. But for
me the worst thing was when this boy, who lives in the same block
of flats, head-butted me. I blacked out for a couple of minutes and
had to be rushed to hospital by ambulance.

Thinking about that boy still makes me angry. What he did to me has
changed my life because I no longer feel safe. My parents worry a
lot about me and won’t let me set foot outside the front door
unless I’m with one of them or with my big sister.

I hate it that I can’t go out on my own but at least that way I
won’t get hurt. It’s not fair that my life has to be like this just
because of a bunch of stupid kids.

I do feel safe at an adventure playground nearby, where I can play
outside and do things like cooking. I get a bit of freedom. I do
have little play fights with other kids but it’s nothing serious
and I know I’m not going to be bullied.

A lot of the kids who bully me on my estate are the same ones who
steal mopeds and cars and then blow them up with petrol bombs.
There are lots of other kinds of vandalism on the estate. We don’t
have swings in our park any more because the big kids kept pulling
them down and the council just got sick of fixing them.

I reckon the reason some young people do these kinds of things is
because they’re not getting enough attention at home. Or maybe
they’re just bored.

I think the council should do more for young people in my area. If
there were more things to do and better places to play, kids
wouldn’t need to ruin things and pick on others. The estate needs a
better playground and somewhere for children to play ball games.
The council could start a youth club on the estate. I think there
should be somewhere kids can go and express their anger.

It is possible that some kids who are bullied will grow up and
become bullies themselves. There have been a few times when I’ve
picked on other kids, but it’s usually only when I’m trying to
protect myself. Most of the time I try hard not to bully others
because I know what it feels like and it’s not nice.

James Jordan was writing for Children’s Express, a
programme of learning through journalism for eight to 18 year

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