'It's a challenge to see if they can make me cry': bullies taunt lllawarra girl

Sophie Mason is raising money to put up a fence around her house after her daughter Faith, who has Down syndrome, was bullied by children in their neighbourhood. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Sophie Mason is raising money to put up a fence around her house after her daughter Faith, who has Down syndrome, was bullied by children in their neighbourhood. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

A single mum is raising money to build a protective fence around her Farmborough Heights home to deter neighbourhood vandals and bullies who taunt her 15-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome.

Sophie Mason and her four children moved into a Housing NSW property in Warrah Place about three years ago and at first enjoyed a good relationship with their neighbours.

According to Miss Mason, some of the relationships soured after she objected to swearing and fighting by visiting children, and refused to let them come over.

The family's house has been repeatedly pelted with eggs and animal faeces. They have had bicycles stolen and objects set on fire and left to burn near the front door.

Worse, though, is rampant bullying directed at 15-year-old Faith Mason by what Miss Mason estimates is a group of 15 children and three adults.

She said the tormenters told Faith's siblings "your sister's a retard" and made derogatory faces, hand gestures and noises - "urrrgh" - meant to signify a severe mental disability.

The gentle blonde teen grows visibly anxious and reaches for her mother's hand when she sees them in the street.

Faith told the Mercury: "They're hurting my feelings".

Miss Mason said she had been reduced to tears by the taunts, but her efforts to silence the tormenters "just seems to amuse them".

"Now it's a challenge for them to see if they can make me cry," she said. "How do I explain this to [Faith]? She's a beautiful girl who doesn't deserve any of this - she hasn't got a nasty bone in her body. It's difficult because she can't go outside and play now."

Miss Mason said her family had been flagged as "a little bit different" due to her intolerance for swearing, and her decision to home-school Faith's three siblings, and this could have contributed to making them targets for bullying.

"Our focus is books. We're nerds - I get that, but I just don't understand why people would deliberately do it. I can't take much more, and I can't take much more of the fact that nobody will do anything."

Miss Mason reported several incidents to police, but found "there's nothing they can do".

She believes the vandalism would stop and Faith could return to playing in the front yard if fencing and protective trees were established on her home's two exposed boundaries, creating a "bully barrier".

Recently she took to a crowdsourcing site gofundme.com to raise money for materials after the Department of Housing refused to build the barrier.

The campaign sets a $700 target and has so far attracted $250 in donations.

Friends in the neighbourhood have offered to help build the structure.

Miss Mason said she had opted not to request a housing transfer because the home was well-placed near family and transport links and because "I don't want to be bullied out of the area".

"We just cling to the hope that eventually one day we will have money to buy a plot of land and live in the country."

Visit here for details of the fund-raising effort.

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