Tag Archives: bullying

Bullied for being disabled, but we turned it into a positive – Anti Bullying Week

Rosie and Glen were both bullied at school because of their impairments. In this blog they talk about how they moved forward with their lives and want to spread awareness about the bullying many disabled people face. 

Rosie’s story

“Being bullied made me determined to raise awareness about invisible disabilities”.

Being dyspraxic meant at school I always stood out like a sore thumb compared to others.

From the way I walk and move in a clumsy uncoordinated way which was different to others, always falling or bumping into others or other things.

To it’s made me socially anxious and struggle to maintain friendships. I always had and probably will have different interests to people my own age. I’ve always been seen as disorganised, chaotic, messy and a bit all over the place.

Being so different made me an easy target for being at the receiving end of some awful bullying. Words can have such an impact on your life and how you see and perceive yourself. It made me lose what little confidence I had to begin with and really struggle with my mental health and I would hear the words of what people were saying constantly. I thought I must really be stupid as it was constantly being said to me.

I put a lot of the bullying due to lack of awareness to what dyspraxia is, the fact that dyspraxia is invisible to the eye and negative assumptions of what I could or couldn’t achieve. As an adult I still struggle with anxiety and will never be a naturally confident person.

But my experiences made me decide that nobody should have to go through what myself or my family had been through and I was determined that more awareness needed to be raised about issues invisible to the eye.

Rosie 1 edited square

The bullying I experienced has taught me the power of words and why I choose mine so carefully and not make judgements and assumptions about others.

I work as a learning support as a college and know the value of time, patience and empathy can have on students who may be struggling. I have also been able to prove the people wrong who said I wouldn’t achieve anything.

Words have the power to encourage, destroy, make someone loose confidence in themselves or make someone feel hopeful. We can all try and help people feel hopeful.

Glen’s story

“I’m still a little bit shy and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive now”.

I first went to a mainstream school, but it didn’t go well. The teachers didn’t know how to help, and I was bullied by other kids because of my sight loss. So I was removed very quickly, and transferred to a school for the visually impaired that my parents discovered.

Of course, my confidence had been shattered, so I was very shy. Which led to some of the kids at my new school bullying me as well. Not because of my sight, as they were in the same boat, but because they realised they could wind me up easily.

Glen wearing a suit in a park

However, I made good friends, and the teachers were extremely supportive, so my confidence gradually improved over the years. And I even became friends with the kids who had teased me at first. Partly because I was being more successful than them, but I also got to learn more about them, which helped me understand their behaviour and put it into context. We learnt a lot from each other.

So things turned out well in the end. I came away with great friends, fond memories and good results, and got myself a degree and a job. I’m still a little bit shy today, and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive and confident than I would have been if I hadn’t moved schools when I did.

This is an extract from Glen’s blog Well Eye Never. You can read Glen’s full post about bullying here. 

If you have a story you would like to share, contact Scope’s stories team.

Do you need someone to talk to?

ChildLine – 0800 11 11

ChildLine is a free, confidential support service for children and young people. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.

I’ve had many run ins with trolls and bullies – Harvey Price has scored a victory for now

Vicky Kuhn is a disability rights campaigner, journalist and blogger. In this guest blog she talks about Harvey Price’s recent TV appearance as a victory against cyber-bullies, her own experiences and why she’s supporting the campaign to tackle it.

This week Harvey, son of former glamour model Katie Price, spoke out on live television about the bullying he has endured online. Harvey is blind, autistic and has condition called Prader Willi Syndrome.

In his latest television appearance, it was easy to see just how vulnerable Harvey is. His Mum Katie insisted that he appear live, rather than in a pre-recorded segment, so that viewers could see just how hurt he has been by the attacks. When asked what he would say to someone being horrible to him, he blurted out “Hello you c**t”!

Despite the propriety of live television, support for Harvey has been immense, and he has received hundreds of tweets in support of what he said. This is a victory against Harvey’s bullies for now, but the internet is crawling with cyber-bullies and trolls who prey on anyone they see as an easy target. It is now expected that if you have any kind of online presence, you will have to deal with abuse from these sorts of people. I myself have had many run ins with trolls and bullies.

Wheeling the catwalk for ‘Catwalk of Diversity’

In April of 2015 I had the privilege of wheeling the catwalk with some amazing girls. Headed by Katie Piper, the ‘Catwalk of Diversity’ saw myself and my now very dear friends, strutting our stuff on the catwalk wearing some stunning fashion.

Vicky smiling and striking a pose in her wheelchair at the Catwalk of Diversity fashion show
Vicky striking a pose at Catwalk of Diversity

The twist on this particular event, hosted at the Ideal Home Show in front of huge crowds, was that each of us had something that makes us special and different. Two of the team, Tulsi and Raiche, are burns survivors and have visible scars. Brenda has alopecia and Lynn is missing an arm. Olivia has a large scar on her chest from multiple heart surgeries, and Jess and Kerri have visible differences too. I was the only wheelchair warrior that day.

The experience was magical and liberating, and being the social media butterfly that I am, I posted constant photos and updates during our run on the catwalk. All of the feedback I got in person was super positive, and at each show the audience was packed. People clapped and cheered and we felt amazing.

Then the trolling started

Never having any idea that the event would have so much coverage, I personally was stunned when I went in for make-up on day two and saw newspapers with our pictures and online glossy mags like Cosmo featuring us too. It was pretty overwhelming but nice that what we were doing was being well received.

This, for me anyway, was when the trolling started. There was a segment of the show where we wore t-shirts saying ‘what do you see’? The idea was to challenge people’s perceptions and get them thinking about how the world perceives disabled people and people with visible differences.

Vicky, a young woman, sits in an electric wheelchair wearing a Tshirt that says "what do you see?"
Vicky wearing the T-shirt that sparked her troll experience

I posted a picture of myself across my various social media platforms, and as you can imagine it was perfect troll bait. Answers to the question on my t-shirt ranged from ‘a fat b****’ to ‘an ugly cripple’ and everything in between.

I did get similar comments on other photos from the show, but I just shrugged them off. I am extremely proud of what we achieved in that show, and of the photos that I posted online.

I won’t let it hold me back

I still post lots of photos on my various social media platforms, and of course I get mean comments. A plus size girl in a wheelchair is always going to make an easy target for people who get a kick out of trying to tear others down. It’s no different to the playground.

People try to build themselves up by knocking others down. But I can take it. I’m an adult with healthy self esteem and a good sense of who I am. I put myself out there online on a daily basis, and anyone who doesn’t like it or doesn’t like me will be ignored.

We need to tackle cyber-bullying and trolling

When I remember how I felt at 13 when I was bullied in school for being different, I know how Harvey must feel. My bullies said things to my face and that was bad enough. Cyber-bullies are faceless and don’t have to account for their actions. They hide behind a screen and a username and the bullying is merciless.

For kids like Harvey, and others his age, it doesn’t stop when they leave school. I hope Katie’s campaign to tackle cyber-bullying gets a huge amount of support so we can stop vulnerable people from being targeted.

If you’ve been affected by cyber-bullying and trolling and want to share your story, you can get in touch with the stories team.

If you’d like to read more from Vicky, visit her blog Around and Upside Down.

 

I think some communities lack disability awareness

Zara is 26 and has cerebral palsy. She’s also Muslim, and blogs about her experiences and every day life. Here she talks about gaining self confidence and the barriers that still exist within some communities. 

As salam o alaikum / Hi guys!

I was a very premature baby and had a lack of oxygen, which resulted in me having spastic diplegia, a form cerebral palsy which affects my legs. I remember having a walker as a child, and I wore leg braces until I was about 12.  I also have a little stutter.

At 15, I had surgery and they put what they call ‘disks’ in my legs which enabled me to walk independently, and I have been walking ever since.

I’m very grateful for having a loving and supportive family, which I think is why I didn’t really feel any different to anyone else until I started school. School was a bit of a nightmare, and I got bullied a lot.

I’ve always struggled with my self confidence and school definitely didn’t help. I always shied away from people I didn’t know. I used to think ‘what if they question me about my legs?’ or ‘what if they don’t understand me when I speak?’

Gaining confidence

Things got a lot better for me when I started college. No one really cared about the way I walked – people were a lot more friendly which was nice for a change. I made a good group of friends, and my confidence started improving too. I talked a lot more, and I didn’t just shy away from people like I used to. I started to feel good about myself. I realised that what other people thought of me didn’t really matter anymore. I got my qualifications in IT and Business which I was really proud of.

My confidence is definitely improving as I get older. I’ve learnt to love myself and I no longer care what other people think. My cerebral palsy has made me stronger, more determined and humble as a person and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How disability is portrayed in Islam

As a Muslim living with disability, I want to write a little about how the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) treated disabled people.

Greeting Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (radi’allahu an) with respect and humility, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) designated him as the Leader of Madinah many times in his own absence. As far as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was concerned, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum’s blindness was not a barrier in his ability to carry out his duties.

Similarly, the case of Julaybib (radi’allahu an), another companion of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), was described as being dwarf-like in appearance. While many people in Madinah had made him an outcast, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) instead approached a family to give their beautiful daughter as a bride for Julaybib. (Source: Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) made people with disabilities feel welcome in society, and his behavior is an example we all should be following.

Communities should embrace disabled people

I’m really grateful to my family for everything, because without their love and support I wouldn’t be as strong as a person as I am today.

I count myself very lucky because, unfortunately, there is still a small number of disabled people who are faced with some sort of bullying and barriers from within their own Muslim communities.

I think some of our Muslim communities can lack in disability awareness – it’s just not talked about as often as it should be. One reason for this (in my personal opinion) is because we should speak out more and make our voices heard instead of just hiding away.

You can talk to Zara on Scope’s online community. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Do you have any similar experiences to share? 

Being funny helped me fend off the bullies! #EndTheAwkward

Guest Post from YouTuber, vlogger and actor Jack Binstead, who is supporting Scope´s End the Awkward campaign and stars in our Awkward Moments film. Jack has brittle bones and uses a wheelchair.

When I walk, it is very staggered, very messy. Normally I sit in a wheelchair, I can only take a few steps at the time. So I’ve come up with a phrase: I’m a penguin on drugs“.

At school I figured out that if I made jokes about myself first, then the bullies can´t say anything, because I wouldn´t be offended. I found this out when I was younger – turn an awkward situation into a humorous one.

I laugh it off, I switch it round. The strategy still works for me: A lot of my acting in the last few years has been based on comedy.

I will challenge your assumptions

Awkwardness comes from people assuming things. They assume that there are many things I can´t do. It´s always been a big thing for me that I don´t want to look any more disabled than I have to. If there is a slight chance that I can do something, I´ll try.

Especially as a kid there were a lot of situations where I got it wrong: I wanted to impress my mates, I wanted to be no different and the consequence was I fell out of the wheelchair, or I´d bust a finger in a wheel.

Meanwhile, though, I can do amazing things: I can get up and down an escalator. When people see it, their jaws drop, they can´t believe what they are seeing. If I let go, that´s it, I´d be falling down the escalator. There is only a few of us that can do that.

Vloggers are the new celebrities

YouTube is a big thing, vloggers are the new celebrities. I am such a sociable guy, I so enjoy it. Thousands of people subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Tweets come in every couple of minutes and I have no problem answering all sorts of questions. I have told my followers about my condition: They know that getting out and about is risky for me, because my bones break very easily.

My message to my followers is: You´ve got to get out there, you´ve got to be motivated, you´ve got to be you. There is no point in being anyone else.

Bullying isn’t harmless banter

I am also involved in theatre, I’m doing a big play with school kids which focuses on bullying. They might not know they are bullying, they might think it is harmless banter with their mates – they don´t understand that what they are doing is hurtful.

There is nothing that limits me

Jack smiling and looking at camera
Jack at the shoot of our awkward moments film

For people who are not sure whether to offer help to someone who is disabled, my advice would be: Wait a bit longer, don´t rush into offering help. If I´m struggling, then come and approach me.

Generally, if someone with a disability needs help, they are going to ask. Chances are they want to bump down those stairs by themselves.

I believe that disability shouldn’t limit us. There is nothing about being in a wheelchair which would limit me.

Look out for Jack’s film coming out in Autumn, Bad Education, which is based on the TV series. Follow him on Twitter and You Tube.

I’ve been tipped out of my chair and punched in the face – #100days100stories

Guest post from Simon Green, as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

My name is Simon Green, I live in Bridgend, South Wales. I have a condition called Neurofibromatosis, which along with a freak accident has resulted in me having to use a wheelchair for the past 12 years.

I am Chair of Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People, a Trustee with Disability Wales and Coordinator with the Disability Hate Crime Network.

My life changed straight away, I expected it to, but I did not expect that having to use a wheelchair would result in hostility, but sadly it did. I was verbally abused, called derogatory names and deliberately tipped out my chair, and on one occasion punched in the face. The guy who hit me used the excuse that “he didn’t think it was right for a f***ing spaz to be out with a pretty girl”.

Campaigning for changeMan in wheelchair smiling

I have spent the past few years campaigning for more awareness in relation to disability related harassment and have heard some horrific stories of both verbal and physical abuse against disabled people.

But over the last three or four years I’ve been hearing more and more about a very different type of abuse, and that’s language like ‘scrounger’ and ‘benefit cheat’, especially against people with more hidden disabilities.

And this is where I come on to politics! Now I would not for a second directly blame any politician or journalist for someone attacking a disabled person but I believe politicians and journalists need to be careful with the language they use.

The power of words

Man in wheelchair at a rally
Campaigning for change: Simon Green

The constant talk of cutting welfare, suggestions that the state of the economy is down to the number of people claiming benefits and phrases such as “Strivers verses Skivers” do not help – and can increase hostility towards the disabled community.

I get extremely angry when such comments are made as they do a huge amount of harm.

Disabled people have votes, and if party leaders want these votes they need to cut down on the inappropriate and demonising comments.

Find out more about the Disability Hate Crime Network.

For advice and support call the Scope helpline on 0808 800 3333.

Find out more about our 100 days, 100 stories campaign and read the rest of our stories so far

MMA is a physical sport, we’re not baking cookies in there – #100days100stories

100 shttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFOKAFe0UXU

Seventeen-year-old Jack says he took up mixed martial arts (MMA) – which combines elements of kickboxing, wrestling and jujitsu – three years ago for “the wrong reasons”.

Jack has cerebral palsy and was getting bullied at school for being the “fat disabled kid”. He wanted to do something to boost his confidence, so he started boxing with some friends.

“But then a couple of weeks into doing the boxing, my coach turned out to be an MMA coach as well, and started teaching us some ground game”, explains Jack.

“Then from that I’ve just been doing MMA ever since.”

The right side of Jack’s body is a lot weaker than his left and he has limited use of his right hand – but Jack fights confidently against able-bodied men, often much older and bigger than he is.

Three years since taking on the full contact combat sport Jack is leaner, stronger and more confident.

Jack trains with a coach three times a week for three hours and does extra training during the week. His hard work pays off – Jack often wins fights and has the titles and trophies to prove it.

“Cerebral palsy has given me the determination to never give up and I think that if I didn’t have this disability, I wouldn’t even like MMA – I would be too scared to do it.”

Jack running
Jack in training

Jack’s determination does come at a price: “MMA is a physical sport with a physical consequence – you can’t come into this sport not wanting to get hurt – we’re not baking cookies in there.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken my nose, I’ve been knocked out five times I think, and I’ve had black eyes, I’ve had busted lips.”

Jack is sure he’s the only disabled MMA fighter in the UK – and aims to be the first physically disabled MMA fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

“Being in the UFC would mean everything. I may never get to the point where I am a champion, (but) I’m gonna give it my best try. It would mean I’ve made it, it would mean I’ve proved everyone wrong – everyone that’s said I can’t.”

“Someone said, ‘those who say they can, and those who say they can’t – they’re both right, because those who say they can’t give up, and those that say they can, strive and they make it.”

Now, Jack doesn’t worry about bullies: “After a couple of months (of doing MMA) I realised that I just needed to chill out.”

“There are going to be people in the world that are just idiots, they have no idea what they’re on about, they throw the word spastic around like it’s funny, and it’s not.”

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories and read the rest of our stories so far

I was bullied because I’m disabled – part 2

Trendsetters is Scope’s project for young disabled people. In November we posted a blog and video about being bullied because you’re disabled.

We caught up with the Trendsetter who made the video to find out how things are going now.

Your film has had around 9,000 views so far. How do you feel about this?

It amazes me that we’ve had over 9,000 views of the film. I don’t think any of us expected the response to be this great, especially as there was nothing that we could find on the internet about disability bullying.

You mentioned in the past that you wrote about your feelings. Was this helpful in dealing with the experience of bullying?

The poetry I write helps me deal with what happened to an extent. It was very useful when talking to the guy at school because I found it really hard to just talk about the bullying at first, so knowing he already knew took the pressure off me a bit.

Might other young people find this helpful, especially if they haven’t got someone they can easily confide in?

It can be really helpful to write about how you are feeling, but it will only get better if you tell someone, whether that’s a friend, a teacher or your parents.

What would you say to teachers about bullying?

If you are a teacher witnessing bullying don’t just stand there, actually do something to stop it, but in a way that is not going make it worse for the victim.

This is my story. I was bullied because I’m disabled.

Trendsetters is a project run by Scope for young disabled people.

Anti-Bullying Week calls on children and young people to take the lead in creating a future without bullying – using new technology to promote positive communication rather than being held back by cyber bullying.

Bullying is something that many of Scope’s Trendsetters, a group of disabled young people, say they’ve experienced.

We ran a workshop with the group about bullying this summer.

Young disabled people at bullying workshop

Bullying causes bad feelings. We threw these into a bin.

Rubbish bin representing bad feelings

One Trendsetter wanted to use technology to share her experience of being bullied. She wanted to send out a positive message about stopping bullying by creating this short film on bullying.

Her message is: “If you are being bullied, or know someone who is, tell someone.”

Do you need someone to talk to?

ChildLine – 0800 11 11

ChildLine is a free, confidential support service. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.

BeatBullying online help

Get help and support from the BeatBullying online mentors and counsellors, whenever and wherever you need it. Visit the BeatBullying website.

Are you a parent, carer or teacher looking for advice?

Kidscape Anti-bullying helpline – 0845 205 204

Helpline for parents or carers. Advisers are available Monday to Thursday from 10am to 4pm. Call the helpline on 0845 205 204 or Visit the Kidscape website.

BullyingUK and Contact a Family

Get advice if your disabled child is bullied. Visit the BullyingUK website.

Anti-Bullying Alliance

Get Anti-Bullying week teaching materials from the Anti-Bullying Alliance and resources from BeatBullying.

Share your tips

Share your tips on how to beat bullying in the comments. Here are some positive thoughts from the Trendsetters to get you started:

“Be a strong person within yourself, believe in yourself and always [have] confidence in expressing your emotions.”

“Bullying can [happen] anywhere so don’t let anyone take advantage of you. You have the right to say no to anything, and you have the right to be yourself.”

“Don’t let people judge you just because you’re being you, and you shouldn’t stop being yourself just because someone doesn’t like you.”

 

Dealing with bullying workshop

Bullying workshop

Hi everyone

Well what a fabulous week we’ve had, with our first Trendsetters workshop, all about dealing with bullying. Way back last year our Trendsetters told us that they wanted information about bullying, as many of them had been affected by bullying behaviour. It’s taken a while to get it organised but with the help of Kidscape we held a workshop at our London offices last week, where eight of our Trendsetters learnt about bullying behaviour and how to deal with it, including some useful practical strategies.

The Kidscape trainer got all of us involved in the role play, and everyone took an active part in sharing their stories and their experiences. Feedback from the Trendsetters at the end of the day was very positive and we are all looking forward to sharing what we’ve learnt on the Scope young people’s web pages soon, so that other disabled young people can learn the same strategies.

Workshops like these mean that we are much closer to being able to give young disabled people the information they want, about the subjects that matter to them, and in a format they can access.

Well done everyone who took part… and watch this space for updates on other parts of the project.