Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Singer backs anti-bullying campaign

Beef With Bullies campaign advocates Zac Taylor and Tayla Alexander. Photo / Getty Images
Beef With Bullies campaign advocates Zac Taylor and Tayla Alexander. Photo / Getty Images

Soprano singer Tayla Alexander attended four different primary schools because bullies hounded her.

The 13-year-old has a top 10 album under her belt and has performed at concerts in front of tens of thousands of people.

But behind the success, Tayla, from Dairy Flat, north Auckland, was shifted from pillar to post to avoid her tormentors.

"I had a really bad time because I was tall, chubby and different, and I like classical music", Tayla said. "Every time I changed school, the problem seemed to follow ... so I began to think it was all my fault."

The teen is backing a nationwide campaign called Beef With Bullies. The anti-bullying initiative, launched by the Mad Butcher stores, is aimed at more than 200 high schools.

Also behind the project is Zac Taylor, 20, from boyband Titanium, who admits he was involved with bullying.

Tayla started high school this year and is at Long Bay College on Auckland's North Shore.

She received cruel taunts from other kids in the playground while at primary school, as well as through social media and by text.

"The cattiness among young girls can be terrible and I had to find solutions to cope," Tayla said. "I would block unwanted numbers on my cellphone and switch it off for most of the day.

"Being sent abusive texts is so frustrating because, despite yourself, you still want to read them.

"Getting lost in my music helped me get through it. You have to develop interests that take your mind off the situation."

Half of teachers witness verbal bullying at least once a week, according to research from Wellington's Victoria University. A further 25 per cent report seeing physical bullying.

For Beef With Bullies, schools are asked to submit two-minute videos on Facebook about bullying which will be judged by celebrities Dai Henwood, Kimberley Crossman and film director Taika Waititi.

Titanium singer Zac urged abusers to think twice about the impact of their behaviour.

"Even standing by and doing nothing while someone is being bullied, like I did, is not right."

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- NZ Herald

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