Wednesday 18 October 2017

Tom Daley and Rio Ferdinand speak out over school bullying

Research revealed almost half (47%) of British adults said they were bullied while at school.

Tom Daley (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Tom Daley (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Tom Daley, Holly Branson and Rio Ferdinand have spoken of being picked on in the classroom as part of a campaign to end school bullying.

They spoke out just before the start of the new school year, as research revealed almost half (47%) of British adults said they were bullied while at school.

Olympic diver Daley 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.”

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Former England and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand (Yui Mok/PA)

Channel 4 News presenter 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.”

Holly Branson, daughter of Sir Richard, said:  “I was a bit of a tomboy at school. One of the girls in my school started calling me a lesbian. At first, I didn’t realise I was being bullied until I told my parents.”

Former England footballer 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.”

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James McVey of The Vamps (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Vamps vocalist James McVey said: “I would be punched in the stomach whenever I was seen in the corridors, and told that I would be ‘cut up and hidden under the floorboards’.”

The celebrities are reliving their experiences for charity The Diana Award’s Back2School campaign.

Its YouGov survey, of over 2,000 adults and 500 young people, revealed that 64% of young people, aged eight to 15, say at least one of their friends has been bullied at school.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of 15-year-olds say their friends are worried about going back to school because of bullying.

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.”

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