Aspire to beat the Haters

by Cllr. Richard Harris

Ask yourself this; have you ever been bullied? Abused? Tormented? Tortured? Some of those words might seem a bit over the top, a bit extreme. As someone who has been bullied, as a child and as a young adult, I can tell you, this is not extreme, it’s the dark reality of life.The bullying at school for me caused major anxiety issues and spells of depression. I am now in a happy place, mainly thanks to University and politics.

As a young councillor and a school governor, I feel very proud to be in a position to set an example and to be a role model for the young people of Erewash; Derbyshire and the East Midlands.I am not ashamed to say that as a child, I was bullied at school. Now, 3 months off my 30th birthday, I am the safeguarding and anti-bullying governor at Parklands Infant and Nursery School. I am making a difference and helping to eradicate bullying for the children of today and end bullying for the children of tomorrow.

I have been a strong and vocal advocate of tougher action on bullying in schools; maybe even prosecuting parents in extreme circumstances. But I want to make it clear that whilst we break down the legislative door, there are plenty of people out there breaking the barriers down themselves. My own story is one of defiance and survival; of strength, determination and success. I remember one of my favourite teachers once saying: “you do realise, you are one of this school’s success stories…”.

I have made reference in a previous article for Parliament Street to my battle with mental health during my GCSE year. The torture of the bullying culminated with the elation and joy of receiving my GCSE results and ultimately a place at sixth form college. In the two years of my post sixteen education the bullying stopped for which I can only credit the fact that the small minded people who subjected me to years of torture were not interested in furthering their collective future. However, I spent the first year trying to prove myself. By year 13 [aged 17] I had settled down, I had finished a GNVQ in Business Studies and already gained one whole A-Level in ICT. I was even considering University.

From a position aged 14 of being told that I would never sit a GCSE exam to finishing VI form with 14 GCSEs and 4 A-Levels was an amazing feeling.

I have also made reference in previous articles to bullying in the workplace. Now I am a proud man. I always have been, so when I was forced to walk out of a job that I loved due to constant name calling and mental abuse, I was ashamed. I have only ever felt shame like it twice in my life and the second was standing in the Job centre later on in life. You see that feeling of zero self esteem is soul destroying. I’m in no way likening being tortured by cruel and evil people to being on benefits but the feeling is not dissimilar. Both times I felt like I had no future and both times I suffered from depression and severe anxiety.

I want to be that positive role model for the young people out there who have suffered the wrath of bullies and the people who have suffered from mental health issues. I don’t know what makes people bully and abuse other people. I always felt that there was a direct link between my  and the bullying, but whatever the reason, I want people to recognise that I have come out the other side.

Yes I want tougher action against the perpetrators, but I want people to know that you can beat them. You can prove them all wrong and aspire to achieve whatever you aspire to in life.

Cllr. Richard Harris is Disabilities Spokesman for Parliament Street

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