A university student who once took a knife into a Huddersfield school to defend himself from bullies has spoken out about his traumatic school days.
Conner Bostock was 13 when he decided to take a Swiss Army knife into Colne Valley High School after what he has called a relentless campaign of bullying against him.
He says he was pushed around, punched and kicked several times at school and was once pinned against a wall and choked during a lunchtime attack.
It got so bad that his mum had to take him out of school for a short time.
Now 21, Conner said his decision to carry the knife came the day after his main tormentor had threatened to kill him.
The Open University student has decided to speak up after reading an Examiner story about his old school issuing a warning about carrying knives following a number of violent incidents.
He has claimed that little was done by staff to confront the gang who made his life a misery.
“Bullying was rampant and kids were getting beaten daily,” he said of his time at Colne Valley High.
He recalled receiving “hundreds” of threatening messages through Facebook from school bullies.
“They would say they were going to murder me outside of school. Someone pulled a knife on me outside school and told me I was going to die.”
That incident, which happened in Marsden , led to him carrying a knife into school one day.
Conner, who suffers depression which counsellors say could be linked to trauma at school, said the violence escalated when the bullies found out that he had tried to get help from a teacher.
“They became more aggressive and the bullying more frequent. They would seek me out. I told a teacher and the behaviour team but nothing was done about it. After the death threat was made against me I genuinely thought I was going to die.”
He recalled the day he decided to arm himself with a knife.
“The day before they (the bullies) told me that tomorrow they would stab me. It happened in Marsden, just off the school bus. I was confronted by a group of lads. They pulled a knife on me.
“It just got to the point where no-one was helping me. I was thinking I was going to die. It was a traumatising experience and even to this day it still haunts me.”
Conner said he had been prepared to use the knife had someone attacked him.
“I was prepared to do something horrible. I thought it was ‘me or them’.”
The Swiss Army pocket knife was confiscated after school staff approached him.
“I had told the group (of bullies) that I had a knife and would defend myself. I had to stick up for myself.
“I think they told a teacher about the knife and I immediately handed it over. I was given a week in isolation which felt like a light punishment.”
He was also given a talking to by police officers.
Afterwards his main tormentor stopped bullying him, although Conner acquired the nickname ‘slasher’.
Eight years on he’s still troubled by what happened to him.
“I think the trauma I suffered is one of the causes of my depression,” he says.
Tackling knife crime isn’t a quick fix, he says.
“We need to understand why it is happening and tackle the causes. Bullying, which is a big thing in schools, is one cause. Teachers are too scared to do anything about it.
“Gangs and gang mentality need to the tackled. I think knife culture is growing and is not being tackled. It’s going to take more resources and more time.”
Jimmy Christian, principal at Colne Valley High School, said: "I am sorry to hear about Conner's experiences, obviously this happened a number of years ago so I am unable to comment on this particular case. However, Conner will be pleased to hear that any kind of bullying is dealt with severely and we always look for the underlying cause."