1st June 2007
A family of red-heads say they have been hounded out of three homes by gingerist yobs.
Flame-haired couple Kevin and Barbara Chapman and each of their children sport fine heads of copper coloured hair.
But their crowning glory has led to a bizarre hate campaign that has seen them forced to flee across their home city of Newcastle.
Kevin and Barbara Chapman, pictured here with children Daniel and Ryelle, have been driven from their home
They have been forced to move house three times but at each new place they have had their windows smashed, offensive graffiti sprayed on their property, and the children have been physically attacked.
The kids endure daily taunts from yobs and only this week the slogan "ginger is gay" was daubed across the wall of their home.
Mr Chapman, 49, says the constant abuse has become so bad his 11-year-old son, also called Kevin, has tried to kill himself and is now taught at home, while 10-year-old daughter Ryelle, and sons Daniel, 10 and Jordan, 13, have all been badly affected.
The full-time dad said: "It started more than three years ago, when the kids started getting bullied by local lads over the colour of their hair.
"They've been punched and kicked and thrown over a hedge. Every time they go out these gangs have got to them.
"We can't even go to the local shops which are only two minutes away. The kids get all their stuff taken off them.
"The abuse we have to endure is just disgusting. I mean, having ginger hair, you expect people to have a bit of fun, but this is just unbelievable."
Graffiti scrawled on the Chapmans' front door
Last week Mr Chapman says Kevin was assaulted by a girl in the street, who punched him repeatedly, blacking his eye.
And on Wednesday, Mr Chapman returned from an appointment with social services to find his windows had been put through.
He says Kevin has attempted suicide.
"It's shocking, Kevin's never even seen a life yet and he's been driven to this," said Mr Chapman. It's lucky, people have been there to help him when it's happened, but one day I could be out of the house and who knows?"
The family moved from Walker to Newbiggin Hall to try to escape the prejudice, but they were forced to move again to Kenton Bar a year ago.
Mr Chapman added: "The first five weeks in Kenton Bar were great, but then we were spotted again.
There seem to be around 10 or 12 different families who have relations in the different areas."
Daniel, nine (back), Ryelle, 10 (right), and Kevin, 11
The garden fence outside the family home has been scrawled with graffiti.
The children have had to change schools three times, from Wharrier St Primary in Walker, to Simonside Primary in Newbiggin Hall, and on to Kenton Bar Primary.
Ryelle said: "Every time we make new friends we end up just getting bullied, and it happens every time we leave the house." Daniel added: "We get bullied in every school, there's nothing we can do about it really."
Barbara said: "It's just not fair on the kids, for them to have to put up with this. It's every single day and the pressure is just building up and up."
Mr Chapman has reported a number of incidents to the police but says the people who harass them often include young children.
Kenton community Sgt Colin Murray said: "There have been a number of incidents reported at the family's address since December 2005.
"Each incident has been investigated and we continue to offer our support to the family. We will continue to monitor the situation."
Newcastle City Council said housing staff had been told by the family about the taunts and abuse they have suffered.
A spokesman added: "We are currently discussing their situation with him."
Michele Elliott of anti-bullying charity Kidscape, said: "What people do not realise is that this is a hate campaign. It is not just bullying."