Beating the bullies

CONFRONTED by bullies in the school yard, West Ballina girl Sarah Moore did what any child would do.

She told her mum and dad.

Then she went ahead and did something not many children would even think of.

Armed with a speech she had researched with her mum, an educational video and books on the subject of diabetes, she headed off to school to deliver a talk to her classmates.

"The bullying started in Year 4 when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was getting called a diabetic loser and people said I was wagging because I had to leave the classroom to get my injections," Sarah said.

"The bullies were only one or two people who thought it was cool to pick on me, but it made me feel really upset.

"When I was diagnosed I kept thinking 'why me?' I had enough to deal with without having to worry about bullies."

Sarah said her decision to act decisively in the face of bullying solved the problem for her.

"After that a lot of people understood my problem and realised it wasn't my fault," she said.

She advised young people experiencing bullying to speak out.

"I would say the most important thing is to tell your teachers and your parents. You've got to get people to help. Don't try to cope with it alone."

Sarah's advice comes during a week in which bullying hit the headlines due to the suicide of Lismore boy Alex Wildman.

Claims have surfaced the Kadina High student took his own life because of bullying he was suffering at school.

NSW shadow minister for education Andrew Stoner has called for a police or coronial inquiry to get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death.

Parent Jo Hazledine said she was not surprised to learn that bullying had been linked to Alex Wildman's death.

She said she took her daughter out of Kadina High because she felt the school did not fulfil its duty of care to provide a safe environment for her daughter.

She said in 2007 her daughter and another girl were bashed by fellow students off school grounds and were continually harassed at school.

The bashing even led the police to issue an apprehended violence order to protect her daughter from the girl bullying her, she said.

"I took her out of the school because that was the only avenue to stop the bullying. I had to move her out of the entire (Lismore educational) zone to protect her."

A spokesperson from the Department of Education and Training said it had a record of Mrs Hazledine's complaint.

"Kadina High School fully investigated this former student's bullying claims," he said.

He would not comment further on whether any action was taken.

Alison Martin, whose son Liam was bullied while a student at a Lismore public school, said the impact of bullying on kids was terrible.

"Liam didn't want to go to school. It affected his confidence and he became very emotional," Mrs Martin said.

'I tried to speak to the school and became very frustrated because nothing was being done about it.

"I think bullying is wider spread than you might think."

An expert source told The Northern Star that bullying was not just a matter of kids being mean to each other.

She said bullying was often a reflection of what kids were seeing in society and the behaviour of adults around them.

She said parents needed to take responsibility for their children and not leave it to schools to teach children how to behave.

Sarah Moore said schools could help create a positive culture by ensuring there was someone students could confide in.

"Our counsellor is really nice and people go there to talk," she said.

"You feel better after you get things off your chest."


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