Growing up with my surname, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I know what it is like to be teased at school. Being a Norwich City supporter and growing up in Nottingham didn’t help either.

But for some children, bullying can ruin their school days and drive them to despair. That’s why I made backing the campaign to stamp our bullying a priority when I was children’s secretary.

During this years Anti-Bullying week, School’s across the district focused on the subject – making sure every child feels confident to speak up if they are being bullied or see other being picked on – rather than looking away and ignoring what’s happening.

As a result I’ve also been looking at different ways bullying can appear in our communities.

I met staff and union representatives at a local Co-operative food stores, who told me about issues many shopworkers face from abusive customers. It was shocking to hear that almost a million shopworkers have faced verbal or physical abuse in the past year,  usually when asking for proof of age ID.

Most people recognise that shopworkers asking for ID are just doing their job, and helping prevent under-age sales of alcohol and cigarettes, but some people in our communities still seem to think that bulling the person behind the till is acceptable behaviour.

And today I’ve recorded a message for Gay Wakefield, a new website which brings together information about what’s on in Wakefield, with advice and support for gay men and women in our district.

In recent years, there have been a lot of advances for LGBT community. From an equal age of consent to civil partnerships to banning discrimination in the workplace and in provision of goods and services.

As children’s secretary, I also worked in partnership with Stonewall and Eduational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) to produce guidance on tackling homophobic bullying.

Because no young preson should have to put up with isolation or name calling because of how they look, their disability or their religion, colour or sexuality.

When I was growing up, bullying was a fact of life but it was little talked about. Some people even said bullying benefited kids by making them ‘stronger’.

I am glad those days are long gone.Today we are united in saying that bullies are cowards and no-one should have to put with it any more!


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