Raheem Bailey: 'Racism and constant abuse' of boy who lost finger

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Raheem and mumImage source, Rob Browne/Wales Online
Image caption,
Raheem's mother Shantal said her son had been bullied "from the get-go"

An 11-year old boy who lost his finger reportedly fleeing bullies was subjected to months of racist abuse and bullying, his mother has said.

Raheem Bailey, a pupil at Abertillery Learning Community in Blaenau Gwent, caught his finger climbing a fence trying to escape.

"It seems like he has constantly been bullied," his mother Shantal said.

Blaenau Gwent council said "the safety and well-being of all learners" was "of the utmost importance".

"He has always been at least name-called and mocked for his height," Ms Bailey told BBC Radio 5 Live. The abuse was not always racist, she said, but there had been "proper racism" as well.

"He has been called the n-word as well... I don't think he understood 100% what the n-word meant," she said, but added that any adult would have identified it as racism.

Image source, Rob Browne/Wales Online
Image caption,
Raheem is recovering after his ordeal

"Each day he had to build himself up to go in because he knew he was going to get picked on... that's painful, that a child has to almost prepare themselves before going into a place that's meant to be safe and tranquil."

She became concerned after seeing his relief after her suggestion that they might move from the area.

Ms Bailey said teachers and head teachers need to step up efforts to ensure it is not the bullied child that ends up having to be moved from a school. More needs to be done to make parents take the complaints more seriously, she said.

"I understand not everyone's home life is great so sometimes... they come to school and take it out.

His 'new normal'

"But it shouldn't be the child that's coming to school and behaving that's feeling the pressure," she said.

She set up a fundraising campaign following the incident which has received over £100,000 in donations.

Raheem underwent surgery following the incident but doctors had to amputate the finger. His mother is now looking into having a prosthetic fitted.

He has mostly accepted that this is his "new normal", she said, although he does occasionally get down.

Gwent Police said its investigations into the incident are still ongoing and a Welsh government spokesperson condemned bullying and racial harassment.

Blaenau Gwent council said: "The safety and well-being of all learners at Abertillery Learning Community has always been, and continues to be, of the utmost importance.

"We are continuing to work with Gwent Police as part of their investigation into an alleged assault of a pupil at the secondary campus site.

"Abertillery Learning Community is unable to offer any comments at this time due to the ongoing police investigation, but an update will be provided when the investigation is concluded."