Tributes have been paid to an 11-year-old Bradford student who took his own life on Wednesday 28th September, leading to questions being raised about the safeguarding of children in the city.
Asad Khan was found in an unresponsive state by paramedics when they arrived at his family home on Tile Street, shortly before 4.20pm.
Reports suggest that he had strangled himself after being bullied by ‘older students’ at his new school.
Asad had only been attending Beckfoot Upper Heaton School, formerly Belle Vue Boys School, for three weeks, and had raised concerns with friends and family about being picked on.
Former Manningham councillor, Ishtiaq Ahmed, is a friend of the family and says the whole community is in a state of shock.
He said: “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered by the authorities. I understand that all schools have anti-bullying policies but they seem to be sitting on shelves collecting dust to be honest with you.
“The question remains, how robustly are they implemented? Do schools really take these bullying policies seriously?
“I’ve said before, we need to take a zero tolerance approach to bullying and teachers need to be more aware, or perhaps have a wellbeing officer based in schools, who can approach an individual and talk about some of these issues.
“I understand that bullying has always happened and it always will. We are obviously more conscious of it now because of social media and the news. We have so many means of communication. But regardless of that, one life lost is a life lost too many.
“This child had only been in school for three weeks, so surely he must have been experiencing some extremely traumatic issues for him to have even contemplated ever taking his life. It’s just mind boggling really.
“The whole culture needs to change in schools, at government level, all the way down to grass roots level. This is a very tragic case for everyone, the local community and the whole city. My heart goes out to the whole family.”
Bradford West MP, Naz Shah, met with the bereaved parents on Wednesday evening.
She said the death was one which ‘shouldn’t have happened’ and called on the community to work together against bullying.
“This evening, 11 year old Asad took his own life. Asad had just started his new school recently and bullying is something that has been mentioned.
“Whilst many questions are being raised, and rightfully so… one thing I know for sure is that [this death] shouldn’t have happened.
She added: “I believe we, [as a society], have the solutions to the issues we face within our communities.”
Assemblies were held at Beckfoot Upper Heaton School on Thursday to inform staff and students of the news and to offer counselling to those who need it.
Headteacher, Simon Wade, said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we learnt last night of the death of Asad Khan, one of the school’s newest students.
“The school is united in its grief at this sad time. The school community is working together as students, parents and staff come to terms with these events.
“All our thoughts are with Asad’s family at this terribly difficult time.”
Bradford Council leader, Susan Hinchcliffe, also offered her condolences to the family.
She said: “This is a very sad and tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family at this time.
“We made contact with the family yesterday to offer support. The council’s Education Psychology Team are also in contact with the school.”
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire police would not confirm how the young student had died until the results of a post-mortem examination were available.
The spokesperson added: “The boy was taken to hospital, but sadly died a short time later. Inquiries are continuing, but his death is not believed to be suspicious at this time.”
A petition to ‘embed sessions around bullying into the curriculum’ has since been set up with over 10,000 signatures gathered in the first 24 hours.
A link to the petition can be seen here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bite-bullying-in-the-bud?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1475219719