He endured years of neglect and abuse at the hands of his drug-addled parents.
His early life and teenage years living in poverty sound like scenes from Dickensian Britain.
And now, for the first time, a Dundee teenager has spoken about his years of torment and the harrowing experiences he previously tried to block out.
Now 18 years old, Craig – not his real name – has told the Tele his story.
It’s a story which he claims is still being lived out by other youngsters behind closed doors across the city.
He said: “I was so dirty and smelly that I refused to go to school because all the other kids used to bully me.
“I had head lice and was only allowed to take a shower at home once a week.
“It got so bad that eventually the teachers would wash my clothes and allow me to take a shower in the morning before class started.”
Craig spoke out despite threats from his parents, who told him to keep quiet when he revealed he planned to speak to the Tele.
His mum sent him a threatening message, seen by the Tele, warning him not to go to the newspapers about his life under their care.
When approached by the newspaper, his mum refused to comment.
However, Craig has obtained paperwork from Dundee City Council providing evidence that his home life raised concerns with his teachers.
It recounts that they would regularly wash Craig’s clothes for him and would give him access to the school showers.
They also used to find fresh, properly-fitting clothes for the growing teenager.
Craig said his life began to crash around him after his dad was paid off.
He said: “At that time my mum and dad started doing drugs.
“They would regularly be at home snorting cocaine and smoking weed.
“Life became awful and mum and dad were regularly fighting. They would accuse me of stealing drugs, which I never did, and I would spend much of my time in my bedroom.
“There is no way I have ever – or would ever – take drugs. I have seen the devastation they can cause. I hate drugs.”
He added: “I became seriously depressed and I did consider ending it all. I didn’t think I could take any more.
“No teenager should have to deal with what I did.”
Craig said his life began to take a turn for the worse when he started secondary school, which led to him truanting because he became a target for bullies.
In a single year he missed school 64 times.
“I was only allowed to shower once a week at the weekend and there was never any hot water,” he said.
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“My clothes were never washed and I grew very dirty and smelly.
“It was disgusting and I was bullied at school.
“I just couldn’t stand going in because I was so embarrassed about my personal hygiene.”
Craig eventually found himself a part-time job but when he got home his parents would demand his wages to buy drugs.
He said: “I quickly realised they would take my money, so I began buying food on the way home to feed the family.”
Up until then he had gone to foodbanks. Then last October Craig decided he’d had enough and he ran away from home.
He said: “I went to Action for Children and they helped me get my life back on track. I had to do something to protect myself.
“I’m now doing really well and am living in my own flat and learning to budget and live off my benefits.”
He said: “I’m positive and hopeful for the future. My childhood was ruined and I’m learning to block it out.
“I want to speak out because no kid should have to go through what I went through and I want people to know that it’s happening right now in Dundee under people’s noses.”
If you are affected by the kinds of issues raised in this article help is available. Craig turned to Action for Children, the details of which can be found at actionforchildren.org.uk
Council in action plan
Dundee is in the grip of both a childhood poverty and drug epidemic crisis and, as Craig’s story proves, it’s often children who are suffering the most. Shock figures recently revealed Dundee has the second highest level of child poverty in Scotland.
Add that to the drug addiction problems faced in Dundee and you have a lethal combination resulting in childhoods like Craig’s.
Stewart Hunter, convener of Dundee City Council’s children and families services committee said: “Our staff and schools do a phenomenal amount of work to support our young people that goes largely unnoticed and without proper recognition. Craig’s story puts a spotlight on this work.
“The work that the Fairness Commission and the Drugs Commission has done highlights the significant challenges we face in the city. We are acutely aware of those challenges.
“Over the last few years we have put a significant focus on these challenges.
“We have spent a significant amount putting measures in place to support young people and we have faced significant criticism for doing so.
“Craig’s story highlights why we were right to do so.”
Mr Hunter added: “On Monday the administration will ask councillors to approve spending £400,000 to continue the Includem Project.
“Over the last six years Includem have supported young people facing similar challenges to Craig along with their families. This includes out of school support as well as work in school.
“That’s just one example of the work that goes on.
“The challenges that a number of our young people face are heartbreaking but we are committed to supporting them and that work will continue.”