HEARING the words ‘I wish I was dead’ coming from a child’s mouth is unimaginable and the most painfully heartbreaking thing for any parent to hear.
For Alexander Heights resident Fraser Griggs, those words were the driving force for him to establish P2S Rugbyworks to help stop children from being bullies, or a victim of bullying like his 11-year-old daughter was.
Erin Griggs described being bullied as “absolutely terrible”, having to move schools because it got so bad.
“I tried to deal with it on my own but I was just a wreck, I didn’t cope with it very well and I just cried everyday,” she said.
“The bullies made me feel so alone and so unimportant and unnoticed, it made me feel so sad like I had just been stepped on over and over again.
“I did not cope well at all, I just wanted to stay home and not go anywhere and was definitely not myself.”
Erin said she kept the bullying a secret for about a month before telling her mum, but wished she had got help straight away because it “tore” her apart.
Mr Griggs said there was a feeling of helplessness “that you are somewhat powerless to protect your child from the abuse” they are suffering.
“Having seen my 10-year-old daughter subjected to a horrific year of psychological bullying at our local primary school, I was amazed to see how seemingly powerless the school claimed to be in such matters when it was simply her word against the word of the alleged perpetrator,” he said.
“To have my daughter say ‘I wish I was dead’ at bedtime after another traumatic day was heartbreaking.
“It is easy to blame the bully, but kids often grow up in difficult circumstances and having met the parents of the boy involved – I could certainly relate to the ‘you are what you’re exposed to’ mantra.”
P2S Rugbyworks is a long-term life skills development program, focused on returning marginalised young people back in to sustainable education, training and employment.
Mr Griggs said the program worked with young people to equip them with the necessary life skills to prepare them to seize opportunities.
“The program is based on the values of rugby union and provides a fun environment in which they can develop to reintegrate with their communities,” he said.
Based on the Dallaglio RugbyWorks program in the UK, P2S Rugbyworks has six coaches who have run two pilot sessions at Alta-1 in Merriwa where Mr Griggs said the young people involved were enthusiastic and engaged.
“John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School in Mirrabooka are interested in allowing us to hold after school sessions as we are keen to work with any young people who are at risk of being marginalised from mainstream education to try and mitigate that risk,” he said.
“We are looking to assist upwards of 250 young people in 2018.
“P2S Rugbyworks is also working with the community to create opportunities through employability ‘taster days’ which is part of our longer term mission to fully integrate these young people back into the society that has ostracised them thus far.”
Entirely self-funded, Mr Griggs has launched a Crowd Funding campaign at https://gofundme.com/p2srugbyworks to help find a premises and train coaches who are currently volunteers.