Karley Johns and her daughter Melany have both had experience being bullied. Karley was kind enough to share their story.

I know what it is like to be bullied. When I was younger, I was bullied by two older boys who used to walk home from school behind me saying nasty things and kicking my back pack.

As my mother was a bit of a nomad, I ended up going to more schools than I can remember. I was always the 'new kid', the vulnerable one.

When I got to college, I was still dealing with bullying. I was having suicidal thoughts and stock piling pills. I was depressed, suffering anxiety and had sleep problems.

One day at college when I was confronted by three bullies, I felt something just give inside my head.

Could no longer take it

I was tired of just 'taking it' from everyone. I told them to do their worst and they sure could have beaten me to a pulp easily, but instead, they left me alone and in fact started being friendly to me.

I realised that standing up to them and speaking up for myself changed my life for the better.

I have four beautiful daughters and they can all report moments of dealing with bullying, especially during their teen years, but my youngest daughter, Melany, has sadly experienced bullying on a larger scale than the others.

Melany is a beautiful girl who has had a terrible experience with school bullies. She experienced severe depression and anxiety because of the way she was treated at school, and it was very hard to watch her going through that, knowing exactly how it felt.

Bullying is different these days

I’ve realised that bullying is different for kids today. Back in my school days I could leave my school bullies behind at the end of the day and have a break.

Nowadays, Melany and other young people don't get that 'time out' because social media and mobile phones can allow bullies to follow you home in your pocket, and it’s 24/7!

After having a break from her school bullies over the Christmas holiday break, things improved for Melany. The girl who was unkind to her had some time to think about her behaviour, and apologised to Melany at the beginning of this school year.

Without a ringleader, the other girls who had been picking on Melany fell away.

Now, I’m proud to say that when Melany knows that someone else is being picked on – for their sexuality, a disability, or any other reason – she reaches out to them and offers friendship and understanding, and invites them to come and sit with her and her friends.

I am so very proud of my girl for reaching out to others and trying to make school a positive place for all people.

Daughter an inspiration

Melany has inspired me to find ways that I can continue to prevent bullying, and share information and knowledge about bullying within my workplace. At the end of last year I applied to train as an Anti-Harassment Advisor (AHA).

I am now a licenced AHA for the NZ Defence Force. I work to identify incidents of bullying or harassment, and work through several options to help the target deal with the issue.

Hopefully, our work will educate people about what is acceptable behaviour and what is not acceptable within the organisation, and encourage people to speak up if they need help.

Melany and I share strong beliefs in educating people of the effects of bullying, and hope to be able to be advocates of the message, and encourage others to Speak up. Stand together. Stop bullying.

Karley Johns ed

“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”