Tag Archives: equality

Stop the hate please

I just watched this video through Tumblr: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdkNn3Ei-Lg&feature=share and I was in tears. A young boy, only fourteen years old, uses cards with words written on them to tell his story. He has been bullied all through school for being gay, he has self-harmed, he has contemplated suicide. But he is still here, and he ends the video by saying that he is stronger than this, and he has a million reasons to be here.

First of all I want to say Jonah you are an inspiration for sharing your story with the world, for standing up and speaking up about the awful realities of bullying in schools. I cannot emphasise how proud I, and so many others are of you. Please know that you have support and love everywhere. I know you don’t know me, but I am thinking of you and hoping things improve for you. I promise that one day you will come out the other side of this, and you will always be the better person.

Bullying is an issue which affects almost all of us in our youth in some way, either because you picked on the fat kid, joined in with laughing at that one girl with braces, or because you were on the receiving end of it all.

I was bullied all through secondary school. I was called names, had things thrown at me and was ostracised by almost everyone in my year. I had no friends, nobody I could hang out with at break time or sit next to in class. Luckily I got involved in something called the UK Youth Parliament, and met an amazing group of people outside of school. For the five years of my secondary school career, they were the lifeline that kept me going. I never cut or attempted suicide, but I thought about it a lot, and I really think if it wasn’t for the youth group and the workers I might not be here right now.

It seems like people get picked on for almost anything. You’r hair is ginger, you’ve got wonky teeth or you wear glasses, and you become an instant target. Bullies fear difference, and the only way they know how to cope with it is to attack. It’s vicious and nasty and can ruin lives, and we need to do something about it. Yes there are loads of anti bullying campaigns, but kids and teenagers are still trying to kill themselves because they can’t see the point in living any more in a world of hate and pain. We need to teach kids, and everyone for that matter, that just because someone is different does NOT make it OK for you to laugh at them, to call them names, to mentally or physically torment them. We are all different in some way, and kids are all deeply insecure about themselves and their bodies as they grow up. Some manage to overcome it by making friends and grabbing life with both hands, sadly some think they can only hide it by picking on others who are weaker than them.

Well I have a message for every kid who’s ever been shoved down the stairs, or called ugly, or spat at. You are not weaker than them. You are the strong ones, you are the ones who will go on to do great things and look back and be so glad that you didn’t let them win, didn’t let them beat you down. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you will succeed as long as you push on and focus on your goals. Please don’t ever let them get to you, I believe in you and so do many, many more people.

Bullies only hold power over their victims because of two reasons. One is that the victims let them, but that doesn’t really help people on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour, we try our best not to let it show but we can’t turn off our feelings. The second reason is that other people know what is going on and don’t do anything. This is almost as bad as joining in, because by not speaking up for someone being bullied, you are saying that it is OK. Now I’m not expecting kids to go out and shout at six foot guys to stop picking on the little kid, because you might get turned on too. But speaking to a teacher or school counsellor or someone else who you think might be able to help the victim can improve their life a lot. And if you do have the courage to directly tell the bullies to stop it, then please do. If more people are showing them that it’s not alright to behave the way they are, then hopefully they will stop. Most bullies want acceptance, and think that picking on others will get them that. Really it won’t, but they will only realise that if others stand up and make them see what they’re doing is wrong.

The Writer

x


Disabled people shouldn’t be blamed.

I just read an article in the Guardian about a disabled man who has been subject to awful discrimination and abuse by his own neighbour. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/04/ian-birrell-prejudice-against-disabled) Now this is awful in any circumstance, but the really scary thing is that he was being targeted because his neighbour thought that he was faking having MS to claim benefits. This isn’t an isolated incident either, recently people with genuine disabilities have been called ‘scroungers’ and ‘fakers’, simply because of how the media and government are twisting facts and figures.

It’s true that there has been a large increase in the number of fraudulent benefit claims, but as the article states disability benefits have only a 0.5% fraudulent claim rate, which is far lower than other benefits. As the coalition are introducing more and more cuts, people are feeling the pinch, and it’s all too easy for the media to create a scape-goat. Now anyone with a disability who claims usually much needed benefits are subjected to suspicion and resentment by their neighbours or even strangers. This is wrong, and needs to end now.

There are approximately 10 million disabled people in the UK, which is about a sixth of the population. With this many people suffering from either a physical or mental condition, isn’t it about time we accepted them as just normal? Just because someone isn’t capable of doing certain things, or their brain works differently to yours, doesn’t make them any less of a person. We need to speak out for these people, because often they can’t speak for themselves.

My Mum was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease a few years ago now, so I have first hand experience of disability. The thing that struck me the most was how difficult it is to get any help. There are numerous forms to fill in, which a lot of disabled people may not be able to do, and countless appointments and meetings to go through before you can qualify for government help or DLA. The recent spate of cuts implemented by the coalition have fallen not just onto our quality of education, health care and so on, but also onto the quality of simply living for many disabled people. David Cameron has pledged to radically reform the benefit system (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/17/david-cameron-welfare-reform-bill), and while he was quick to assure that those unable to work will continue to receive help, there have been mixed responses from disability charities and people who receive DLA as to where that will leave them. The tests and hoops one must jump through to be classed as unable to work now are ridiculous. Of course I understand they have to make sure claimants are genuine, but at the same time those most likely to be unable to work also have a lot of difficulty with things like filling in very long forms or spending hours on the telephone. As for me, I’ll be watching closely to make sure my Mum continues to get all the help she not only needs but deserves as well. If she could work Mr Cameron, she would, so please don’t penalise her for the fact she’s got a serious degenerative disease.

The Writer

x