A VEGAN schoolboy in Britain was found dead after a bullying campaign that saw other kids throw meat at him, in inquest heard.
Louie Tom Fenton, 12, started smoking to deal with the stress of being bullied, with his devastated family now left grappling with their loss.
Louie’s mother Catherine Fenton told the Hertfordshire Coroner’s Court: “He had been bullied regularly since he arrived at Richard Hale School. He had regular appointments with the counsellor and he started self-harming.
“They threw meat at him in the canteen because he was a vegan.”
Ms Fenton said she had tried to speak to the school several times but the bullying had continued.
She said she had written to the school, saying she wanted to know whether they had done anything to tackle bullying and to make sure it never happened again.
The inquest into the schoolboy’s death heard he had started to smoke, hanging out with older children before his death on January 19.
But it heard the boy might not have meant to kill himself, as no note was found.
Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan, told the court that he would write to the school to ensure that bullying and self harming is dealt with in the right manner.
He said: “Given what you have said I shall write to the (principal) at the school to ask if policies are in place and up to date in respect of pupils who experience bullying and do self harm.”
Louie’s family paid tribute to him as a “wonderful boy” who was loved.
The family said: “In some ways, he had wisdom and concerns way beyond his years, and in other ways he was a mischievous, enthusiastic boy to whom the world offered the opportunity of discovery and adventure.
“Louie had a wonderful sense of humour and an infectious giggle.
“We feel his loss deeply, he made our lives better by being with us. He still had so much to offer.”
The coroner gave an open verdict and explained how that he was not convinced that Louie meant to kill himself.
Richard Hale School’s head teacher Stephen Neate said the school had never been alerted to concerns that meat had allegedly been thrown at the young boy, saying: “We were aware of concerns about Louie being unhappy at school and we were actively engaged with him and his family to address these issues.
“We will now review our procedures, ensuring that all agencies who worked with Louie and his family, both inside and outside the school, learn any lessons from this tragic case.”
Dominika Piasecka, spokesman for The Vegan Society in the UK, said they were saddened by the young boy’s death, saying: “Unfortunately, schoolchildren can get bullied for any point of difference — wearing glasses, their hair colour, social background and so on — and veganism is just one possible point of difference.
“This is an isolated incident and we are not aware of any other cases of children being bullied for being vegan; usually their peers are very tolerant and even curious about their lifestyle choice.”
Ms Piasecka said those who felt bullied in the workplace or at school due to poor attitudes towards veganism should contact the Vegan Society’s free advocacy service at email@example.com.