Tom Daley, Rio Ferdinand and Nadia Sawalha have shared their experiences of bullying alongside a whole host of celebrities in order to raise awareness for The Diana Award’s #Back2School campaign.
This September sees over 10 million children going back to school, with
many feeling anxious about being bullied.
A new survey of over 2,000 adults and 500 young people about their experiences of bullying in school reveals that nearly half (47%) of adults experienced bullying at some point. This rises to 57% of adults when looking at those between the ages of 18 and 24.
What’s more, well over half (64%) of young people say at least one of their friends has been bullied at school with a quarter (24%) of 15 year olds saying at least one of their friends is worried about returning to school due to bullying.
To mark the start of the school year, celebrities have relived their
experiences of being bullied in a series of videos for the charity and encouraged the public to offer their advice to youngsters.
Olympic diver Tom Daley, who competed at the Beijing Olympics at just 14 years old, said: “When I came back from Beijing, that’s when everything changed.
“They took the mick out of what I was wearing on the diving board, they would throw stuff at me at lunchtime, it became a thing that diving was becoming a burden.”
Meanwhile football legend Rio Ferdinand said: “I got racist abuse growing up…. It got me upset, I was angry… I’ve got young kids now- nine, seven and five - I don’t want to see them being bullied, but I also stress to them I don’t want to see you bullying anyone. I would of made a great Anti-Bullying Ambassador.”
The Diana Award runs the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the UK and
Ireland giving young people, professionals and parents the skills, confidence
and training to tackle all forms of bullying as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.
The survey results also show the strong support for trained Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in schools from both adults and young people. Something that many of the celebrities felt was missing in their own school.
Speaking about bulling, journalist Cathy Newman said: “Some of the things that happened to me would definitely be described now as sexual harassment… If you were a girl and wore a white t-shirt, the girls would get a fire hose and spray you down so they could see your underwear.”
While transgender rights activist Paris Lees said: “People wouldn’t sit next to me, they wouldn’t have lunch with me. People didn’t want to walk home with me. It was like being completely ostracised because I was the queer one.”
Looking at a photo of herself in her schooldays, body-positive activist Haarnam Kaur gave a particularly emotional recount of life in school after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes the growth of facial hair.
“I was feeling isolated, feeling alone, had a lot of anxiety,” she said.
“I was physically harmed in secondary school. I was cornered, beaten, had footballs thrown at me. I was stabbed by pens in my classroom… A lot of kids picked on me because I was a lot larger so I had food thrown at me.”
To kick-off the month’s #Back2School campaign, The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign is encouraging members of the public to share a picture of themselves from childhood on social media, with their advice for youngsters today.
The charity is also welcoming text donations to support the training of young
Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in every school.
Alex Holmes, head of the Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign, said:
“Young people spend 11,000 hours of their lives in full education. School
should be safe and free from bullying. We’re urging everyone to get behind
our campaign by helping us to train Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in schools.
“We know this peer to peer campaign works and these young ambassadors
are already changing behaviours and shaping attitudes by sending a clear
message that bullying isn’t acceptable.
“Our vision with the help of the public/nation is to reach every one of the 27,000 schools across the UK”.
To date, over 24,000 young people have volunteered for and led the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors programme in schools throughout the UK
and Ireland. This network of young people share and develop best practices
and have been trained to provide ongoing peer support.
A recent evaluation showed that 69% of young people believe that Anti-Bullying Ambassadors have decreased the amount of bullying taking place in their schools.
To donate to The Diana Award’s #BackToSchool campaign text ANTI17 to 70070 with one of the following amounts: £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 (UK only*). Find out more about the initiative on the charity’s website.