Bullying victim Stephen reaches out to help others
ONE of the life-coaches who delivered the recent bullying prevention programme at Fingal Ravens GFC was better placed than most to talk on the subject after being relentlessly bullied throughout his teenage years.
Stephen Maguire is now a confident and successful performance, development and life coach and is the secretary of the juvenile section of Fingal Ravens who pioneered this innovative new programme to prevent bullying and teach children to build their confidence and self-esteem to a point where they can stand up to their tormentors.
A central part of the programme involves Stephen sharing his own story about being bullied physically and emotionally throughout his teens and escaping from the bullies to join the army because he did not have the tools back then to cope with the situation.
Stephen told the Fingal Independent: 'My story is part of the workshop. I think it's good to give people an idea of what it is like to go through it from first-hand experience.
'I was bullied from aged 13 to 18. I was physically bullied with rocks thrown at me and being thumped and kicked and there was emotional bullying too.
'It was a difficult time and I didn't have the tools at the time to deal with it so I bottled it all up and that just brings you into a very sad place and a lonely place, and an angry place.
'I think if someone had come to my club or my school at the time and told us that it wasn't my fault and it was the bully's fault and there was ways out of this and ways to build your self confidence, that would have saved years of pain for me.'
Those years of bullying in what is a difficult stage of life for anyone to cope with, has had a huge influence on Stephen's life and career and ultimately led him to where he is today, coaching people to be the best that they can be.
But before that, the bullying forced Stephen into the army as a means of escape from an increasingly intolerable situation. He explained: 'I joined the army for two reasons. One was to toughen myself up and the other was just to get out of there and get out of that situation.
'So I joined the army and moved to Kildare. The army thought me confidence and self-discipline and courage and it thought me how to rely on your mates and share things with them. It was unfortunate I had to wait until I was that age to learn those things.'
Stephen said the bullies always picked on him when he was alone and without the tools at his disposal to stand up to them, the bullying continued and escalated. He said: 'They targeted me and I allowed them to continue, so they did.'
Now as an adult and a life coach and someone who works with children every day for Fingal Ravens, Stephen is determined to show that children do not have to put up with being bullied and have the power to stop it, within them.
He said: 'I'm in a better place now. I don't know where they (the bullies) are and I don't really care. I'm happy with myself and what I'm doing with my life and what I've become.
'That's why I'm very passionate about this subject because I've been through it and it's great to be able to talk to kids about it. I've never talked about it in public before and it was emotional for me to talk about but I'm glad I did it.'
Through Stephen's example, he hopes that children can see that there is a way out from beneath the bully's thumb and the prospect of building a successful and happy life, free from the oppression of bullies. He, along with his colleague, Caoimhe O'Grady Tegart, are giving children the tools to stand up to the bullies and prevent bullying taking hold of their lives, the way it once did for Stephen.