Who: Angels Goal - Australian Anti-Bullying Organisation
Where: We are in Launceston, Tasmania - 330 Invermay Road, Mowbray, 7248.
Location Online: www.angelsgoal.org.au
What: Our goal is to protect children and young adults from bullying in our communities and to eventually help to prevent bullying, along with giving victims and bystanders the fortitude to deal with this issue.
When: It began in February 2011 but became fully active in July, 2011.
Why Bullying is so Prevalent: It is so prevalent because statistics show that one in 5 children who are bullied has a mental health issue that costs the Australian economy around 6 billion a year, not including all other types of bullying eg workplace etc which costs up to 36 billion. The Australian Bureau of Statistics of 2009 stated that there was up to 6 children per 100,000 from ages 13-19 commit suicide. This alarming statistic means that there are more children dying from suicide than in car accidents. A Great Britain study done by Beat Bully stated that 50% of youth suicides are directly attributed to bullying, whereas in Australia, the statistics we found show between 6 and 10% through bullying.
Why we began: After having first hand experience. Chloe's speech is below.
My name is Chloe Cunningham. As you may be aware I was bullied from the age of 12 through to 17 in school and my chosen sport and this became a daily occurrence. Please forgive me if I falter it's due to my condition. There were many different forms of bullying I encountered such as: social exclusion, cyber bullying, name calling and making fun of my body image.
My first encounter of bullying was grade 7 camp where all the girls from my grade wanted to go into the boys' section. I wasn’t comfortable with this arrangement so I stayed behind. In the meantime, all the girls were caught. The punishment was all girls were back at school during lunch and were made to take all chewing gum off the classroom tables. The teacher involved said “No you don’t have to, Chloe, I know you wouldn’t do that”.
This was when my nightmare started, in the shower at camp and change rooms during PE where the group of girls made fun of my body image as I was a slow developer for my age. This kept going right up to grade 9. By then I had body image problems, major social exclusion, name calling, food thrown at me. My coping strategy was to block all the experiences out because I figured it was the only way. Halfway through grade 9 I moved schools and found that bullying wasn’t normal and learnt that school was meant to be fun and including.
There was only one more problem I also had to face every day since I was 13. This was bullying in swimming where I was a state competitive swimmer and ranked highly. The bullying became more personal attack from social exclusion, vomiting on my personal possessions and cyber bullying. This then made me feel unworthy, ugly and not deserved of being loved. It became so horrific that it was investigated and proven that bullying did occur.
In late 2010 my subconscious brain received bullying as a threat to my wellbeing, then it turns all the stress and trauma into physical symptoms. I had symptoms ranging from tremors to paralyisis. I was sick for 10 months and wheelchair bound for 5 months. This was a very worrying time for my family and friends as they could tell I was in so much pain every second of every day. I remember the time when I saw my mum crying on my shoulder and my heart was breaking; my dad forcing to hold back tears and telling him not to go and my best friend telling me not to give up, not to leave her. I can’t put into words how hard it is too see the people you care about most in pain and you can’t do anything because you’re the one they're crying about. All my symptoms were so severe that it pointed to a neurological disease and I am very lucky that it wasn’t.
My message to all children and young adults: Anyone can be a hero, it can even be you. Be the voice for the person who is too afraid to speak up. Be a leader not a follower. I understand there are many victims like me that are suffering from the effects of bullying. That is why I have come to the conclusion the only way to help is speak up and to let them know they are strong enough to fight and not to give up, even in the darkest hours. We are not Victims, we are survivors, and we will fight and we can do it together. Believe in yourself because I believe in you. Our awareness and accountability programs will help communities address all forms of Bullying. Angels Goal would like to thank King David school for this opportunity and it is a credit to you all for being proactive in this cause. Thank you.