Victims of bullying can remain silent and endure the torment for months, even years. But now, young people are helping each other to speak out…
All over the UK bullying is taking place — not just in the school playground but online through social media.
According to a charity for young people, Young Minds, bullying affects one million people every year. The charity says that victims can develop depression, anxiety, eating disorders, start self-harming and even turn to drugs or alcohol.
Most parents like to think they’d know if their child was being bullied. But the truth is many young victims are too afraid or embarrassed to talk about the problem.
This silence empowers the bullies.
But now, young people are encouraging each other to speak out.
Linda James MBE is the founder and CEO of the charity Bullies Out — an organisation which works to educate young people, schools, parents and teachers about bullying and how to fight it.
‘I was bullied as a child and then my son was bullied at school,’ she says. ‘I decided then that I had to take action. It was my son who suggested an online anti-bullying charity, because most kids don’t always feel brave enough to talk about it face to face.’
Her online charity, Bullies Out, was born and within weeks Linda was receiving calls from all over the country — not just from victims of bullying seeking help, but from schools asking for workshops and mentoring in how to fight bullying.
Linda says that it became clear to her that many children didn’t speak out for various reasons.
‘Some felt teachers wouldn’t believe them. Others didn’t want to bother their parents, or felt if their parents got involved it would get worse,’ she says.
Bullies Out launched a peer mentoring campaign where young people helped support each other.
They also launched a Youth Ambassador programme.
‘It’s open to young people between 10 and 21 and they can then get involved in our anti-bullying campaign,’ she says. ‘These young people give talks to other schools about the effects of bullying — it’s a great way for other young people to see someone like them who has overcome bullying.’
Linda adds: ‘Young people mentoring and educating each other works because peer support is very powerful. As much as young people bully each other, they seek each other for support too. They can give each other the confidence to report bullying.
‘Empowering young people is the key to reducing bullying and stopping it being a silent epidemic.’
Edited by Julie Cook
For help, advice and support visit bulliesout.com
My daughter hid in the dark
My daughter Mollie was a happy child until the age of six when she was picked on for being
It was the start of a lifetime of bullying.
As the years passed, Mollie was bullied for being tall, was hit by a boy in the toilets, and called names.
She slowly withdrew into herself.
At secondary school, while the other girls played out at lunchtime, Mollie sat in the PE changing rooms in the dark to avoid bullying and name-calling.
Promises were made but nothing changed.
Mollie was even hit with a hockey stick by another pupil.
Then one day when she was 13, Mollie came home with a smile on her face.
She told me that while she’d been hiding away in the dark, she’d gone online on her phone and found an anti-bullying charity called Bullies Out.
She’d applied to be a young ambassador and had been accepted.
She said: ‘I want to use my experience to help others.’
I felt so proud of her.
Mollie became an ambassador, going to schools and giving talks to young people about the effects of bullying and how to spot it.
At one school a young girl came forward and confided in Mollie that she was being bullied.
‘If it helps one person…’ Mollie said.
Now 17, Mollie gives regular talks on bullying as well as online mentoring for victims.
She has a newfound confidence. She spent so much time in the dark, but now she’s finally come out into the light.
From Sandra Collishaw-Lock, 51, of Co Londonderry