A 15-year-old girl has turned the tables on bullies by setting up her own social media campaign which has gathered celebrity backing. Catherine Musgrove speaks to Amy Moloney about her goals.
“It’s hard going at times, but helping other people helps me”, said Amy Moloney of Leyland, who is balancing studying for her GCSEs with helping more than 1,400 people as part of her anti-bullying campaign.
Amy, who said she was badly bullied after starting high school, has set herself up as a self-styled bullying agony aunt with her campaign, Don’t Back Down To Bullying (DBDTB).
Using social networks including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Amy posts inspiring messages, quotes and videos to help others facing bullying, as well as sending private messages and emails of support.
She said: “The main way is through Twitter where I’ve got over 1,400 followers. I put inspirational tweets on there, but people also private-message me when they want someone to speak to.
“I will be on before school, and back on as soon as I’ve got home and done my homework. I once got in trouble in a lesson for sending a message to someone.”
She added: “I help people in any way I can, and a lot of my advice reflects my own experiences.
“The first thing I say to someone being bullied is don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your parents or to a teacher, and if the teacher isn’t very understanding or doesn’t know what to do, I can help point them in other directions.”
Amy’s experience of bullying started when she began in year 7 at St Mary’s High School in Leyland. She claims the school “wasn’t the best” at dealing with her situation.
She said: “At first it was just name calling and silly jokes, and I could handle that, but then it turned physical. I was pushed down the stairs, had my knickers and pants pulled down twice – it was beyond humiliating. I also got bullied as I have no sense of smell. I was called a freak, a weirdo – anything you can think of – they had called it me.
“There was an incident with two lads in the year above me when they came up to me when I was on my own, firing abuse at me. Then there was a message sent round saying how I was a fat slag and deserved to die.
“They would write messages about me in Facebook saying things like “you can’t sit near her in school, you might catch a disease or something”. It wasn’t just people in my year, it was year 11s, too.”
Amy, who said she was also threatened, spat on and made to hate herself. said it got to a point where she tried to hang herself on returning home from school.
She said: “I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I thought it was worth a try if it made all the pain stop. I just felt so worthless.”
She added: “I don’t know why but after what I did, I felt much stronger, I was getting help and I was on the road to recovery. I still wasn’t myself, but I was getting better. The bullying still happens every now and again, but I can cope with it. I am not the person I used to be, I’m so much stronger and braver now.
“It took me two years, but I gained back my confidence, my smile and my personality and that’s why I set up DBDTB. I couldn’t just stand by and let what happened to me happen to others. I know I’m only little but I think I can make a difference, and I’m using my story and my past experiences to do that.”
Amy said she tries to get messages out to all people involved in bullying, including the bullies themselves.
She said: “I want to tackle this issue from all angles. When there’s a suicide, people often think about how it’s affected the friends and family of a person, but I also want to think about how it’s affecting the bully. A few bullies have contacted me to say what they are doing, and often they start telling me they’re going through some family issues that I can try and help them with.”
Since setting up the campaign last year, Amy claims to have stopped 10 people self-harming and seven committing suicide, and has been nominated by a follower for a Teen Hero Award for the second year running. She will find out if she has won in October.
She said: “I feel proud that I’ve managed to help so many people, but I also feel angry that so many people are being put through this.”
As part of her campaign, Amy has produced shirts with the DBDTB logo on, which she has handed out to celebrities including Peter Andre, TOWIE stars and the Geordie Shore cast, who have supported her anti-bullying stance.
After contacting stars through Twitter and their managers, some have even recorded video messages for campaign followers.
Amy said: “It’s crazy watching TV and seeing all these people who are supporting my campaign.”
The teenager said a career in counselling is something she is considering for the future, especially after being contacted by charities to be a mentor and ambassador, including Postcards for Peace and Beat Bullying.
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