Standing up to the bullies

SUPPORT: High Tunstall anti-bullying co-ordinator Karen McCall with the ambassadors
SUPPORT: High Tunstall anti-bullying co-ordinator Karen McCall with the ambassadors

STUDENTS at a Hartlepool school who stand up to bullies are backing a national campaign.

High Tunstall College of Science is supporting Anti Bullying Week which this year aims to shine a light on homophobic slurs.

Using the word ‘gay’ as an insult is on the rise in schools, says High Tunstall’s anti-bullying co-ordinator Karen McCall.

And the school’s team of anti-bullying ambassadors are helping to raise awareness of the problem as part of their work in school.

Ms McCall said: “Myself and one of the ambassadors attended a conference last week on homophobic bullying when we heard from people who had experienced it.

“A lot of students don’t exactly know the real meaning of what they are saying and how to deal with it if it happens to them.

“People who use the word gay as an insult to someone don’t really understand the impact it has on some young people.

“It is one of the things the ambassadors are talking about in assembly this week to raise awareness of it.”

Research carried out by the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall found that out of 1,600 pupils quizzed nationally, 99 per cent said they had heard homophobic language used regularly.

High Tunstall has a team of 10 student ambassadors who come up with all kinds of ideas to reduce the risk of bullying in school and provide support to any victims.

They meet weekly to discuss ideas and hold a support group every Friday and are on hand at break times and lunchtimes.

Ms McCall added: “Bullying is an issue for all schools. What we are trying to do with the ambassadors is to make more people aware of what bullying is, put strategies in place to deal with it and help students overcome it.

“The ambassadors are a fantastic group. They put their heart and soul into supporting victims and raising awareness and offer support.

“They are from different year groups and backgrounds.”