'I was bullied, and my advice is to speak up'
Beibhinn Wynne Judge (18) from Clara, Co Offaly, dealt with bullying as a teenager. She says:
"I don't know when I started being bullied; my memory of primary school is always feeling surrounded by groups and cliques and asking the teacher to find me a friend.
"When I went to secondary school at 13, I became a bit of a bully myself in reaction to other people's behaviour to me, I got into fights and was suspended once.
"By second year I'd decided I didn't want to be 'the bad one' so I went into myself and stopped getting involved in fights but it didn't stop other people bullying me.
"I remember sitting in class and hearing other girls going 'BTW' then looking at me sniggering and laughing.
"It turned out they were calling me Beibhinn The Whale – and these were girls I'd thought were my friends.
"A boy tipped books over my head in the corridor and people just watched. Outside school a girl threatened to print her rings into my face if I didn't give her my phone.
"I always kept my parents at arm's length. I felt that if I couldn't deal with what was going on myself then they'd never see me as an independent adult.
"I was desperate to gain independence and felt how would I look like I could look after my own life if I couldn't deal with a few people in school.
"Instead I made light of the situation, if my parents asked I would say it wasn't a big deal.
"I had a counsellor in third year but if you're under 16 your parents go into meetings with you so I lied because I didn't want to make it their problem.
"Eventually things got better when some of the people who'd been bullying me left school.
"Looking back, I feel I had to go through what I went through to become the person I am. But my advice to anyone else would be not to continue on in silence in the hope that it'll get better eventually.
"I think what would have helped me is if some of my friends had been better friends.
"If I'd had someone to speak up for me and tell my parents what was wrong, that would have been a big help. I also think parents need to know that if their daughter is up in their room all the time, don't assume she's 'just being a teenager'.
"I did everything to avoid getting into a conversation because I didn't want to admit anything was wrong.
"Life's great now. I have good friends, live with my boyfriend and I'm getting along well with my course at NCI. I came through the bullying that happened in school, but my advice to anyone else going through the same would always be to speak up."
– Chrissie Russell