Friday, 18 November 2011

Twitter's Anti-Bullying 'Words Can Hurt' Sensation and how I was bullied in school

Is sensation too strong a word? Well, if your 4 minute long Youtube musings on bullying are re-tweeted by Stephen Fry via John Prescott to their combined total of 3.5m +  followers and is being shown in school assemblies across the country in the fight against bullying then yeah, I call that a sensation.

Here below is Hannah Thompson's video on the effect that school-yard name-calling bullying had on her as a 13 years old.

Now I must declare an interest here. I know Hannah and I know her very well. She came to work with us in Mark Williams MP's office as a painfully shy and quiet work experience pupil from Tregaron Secondary School back in around 2008 when she would've been about 15 (I may be wrong with the dates but it's about this time).

As she says, she and her friends were quirky and rather off-the-wall with their sense of humour but I must admit that I took to it instantly. Who at that age would go and become huge Cliff Richard fans for example?! As an office and as a party, they fitted in effortlessly. The name that we in the office gave to Hannah and her gang which included Holly and Aithne as well as others was the 'Tregaron Mafia'. They quickly became involved in local politics and have been fantastic supporters locally over recent years.

So I must admit that I am ridiculously proud that our Hannah has became such a Twitter viral sensation and for such an important cause to boot. Here is that video.

Being Bullied
I was also bullied verbally at school. It was also in the form of name-calling and snide remarks made behind and often in front of my back.

Specifically, it was the the fact that I had big glasses (such has been my poor short-sightedness from a very young age) which led to the unfortunately inevitable '4 eyes' comments but most significantly the fact that my slight speech impediment with which I can not say the letter 's' clearly and have a difficulty in rolling the letter 'r' made me the easy butt of many cruel jokes.

Looking back, the bus trip to and from school was never an easy one for me and I can often remember wanting to break down and cry because of the harsh things said of and to me. I always stood my ground, grinned and bared it but on the inside, I was an emotional mess. It certainly made me more reticient when it came to speaking up in class. Because at the back of my mind as I was often reminded, I had this ever so slight lisp which made me sound different to everyone else. I hated it.

How on earth I managed to lift myself up from all of the knocks that I received from this I do not know. There must be a wilful force within me that doesn't let such injustices get me down. I'm proud of what I have achieved in the 10+ years since I left school and I hope that young people in Cardigan and more widely who may suffer now with what I suffered from then, can use me as an example of how such things should never be allowed to hold you back. I still have that same speech impediment but I don't realise it much of the time now. It's just a part of who I am and everyone accepts me for who I am in the whole and not just in part.

So well done to Hannah for reminding us that 'Words Can Hurt'. They certainly can but as she says, it's a big world out there that extends far beyond the school yard.

Hannah, you are an inspiration and I love you and your eccentric, weird and wonderful ways to bits! Don't you EVER change!

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