Despite collective best efforts, bullying remains a major problem in schools around the world.
Unfortunately, some children relish the opportunity to tease those who are different to themselves. They often grow out of this in time, but that doesn’t make it any easier on the victims who have to endure name-calling and, sometimes, even physical abuse.
One man, named Ashley, from Taunton, Somerset, UK, knows what this is like. He has Treacher Collins syndrome, a condition which affects his facial structure. As he explained to Love What Matters:
“I was born with no ears, no cheekbones, and a receding jaw. I have had over thirty operations, including three Jaw Distractions and Cochlear Implants (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids).
“When I was a baby, I had to have a Tracheostomy, as I swallowed my tongue and went blue. The only way the doctors could save me was by putting in a Trachy. Peter Andre’s mother-in-law saved my life!“
As one might imagine, Ashley’s school life was tough. He told Love What Matters that though his memories of home are packed full of love and kindness, school was a wilderness of taunts and teasing.
“Within a week or two of starting school, the bullying began with two boys,” he explained.
“I started getting things thrown at me, like bottle lids, food, etc. It got worse as the months went on, to the point where they would physically pin me up against walls, which upset me a lot.
“My initial reaction to being bullied at first was, I just thought it was just children messing around in everyday life. But it got worse to the point, they would start tripping me up in corridors and playgrounds, which was when I started to notice I was being bullied. This was serious.“
The bullies took over Ashley’s life, to the point where it began to impact his mental health and well being. He used to go home in tears every day, and watching his mom grow upset affected him deeply.
“Secondary school was not as bad as primary school luckily. I still had the stares, points, and things thrown at me, but it was better.
“In 2016, I became a volunteer at my local PDSA charity shop, which I loved and then later, moved on to become a waiter at a local gastropub. Meeting new people was lovely, but I had always wanted to join the health and social care industry.”
Then, in 2017, he contacted a charity called Fixers, who work with young people aiming to use their past to fix the future. Through Fixers, Ashley was able to be part of a campaign wherein he opened up on the bullying. This led to being interviewed by radio stations, as well as popular TV shows who wanted to share his story.
“In November of the same year, I became a Support Worker where I worked with adults that have learning disabilities. I loved looking after and caring for people in my care.
“Then in December 2018, I moved jobs and started with the charity, MENCAP, which is a fantastic charity to work with. My anti-bullying campaign so far has been so amazing and successful.”
It’s now Ashley’s aim to help others through the same struggles he faced. He wants people to be open about the trials they’re going through and to talk about being bullied so that they can be offered help.
As per Love What Matters, he said: “I would like people to open up and talk about it, instead of keeping it to themselves.
“My future goals are to continue to share my story and raise awareness. I want to write a book and perhaps work within the TV industry in my future. Since doing my campaign, my life has changed in a great way thanks to Fixers. They made my life amazing.“
Ashley recently did his first ever school talk in his hometown. He admits it was daunting, to face kids and share his story, but the feedback he had was amazing.
“I’m glad I’m making a difference in people’s lives. I just want to continue to share my story on social media platforms and also keep raising awareness and getting the message out there. Because we all are different, we are unique and amazing in every way and should be treated the same. Life is amazing and can’t wait for the future!
“Let’s stop bullying together!”
Indeed! We all dream of a world where bullying is made obsolete. Ashley, we’re proud of you for being brave enough to share your story in an attempt to help others.
Share this article if you, too, want bullying to come to an end.