Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Hayley Holt takes stand against bullying

Hayley Holt talks about here experiences of bullying. Photo / BORDERLESS Productions Limited
Hayley Holt talks about here experiences of bullying. Photo / BORDERLESS Productions Limited

Hayley Holt's dancing skills may be an asset to her now but back at school they caused her a few issues.

The Crowd Goes Wild presenter and Dancing With the Stars performer has spoken out about her experiences with bullying in a bid to get people to make a stand against it.

She features in a video made by organisers of the anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day campaign speaking about being a victim at Auckland Normal Intermediate School in Epsom.

"I was bullied ... by a couple of older girls who had just decided that I was the one they wanted to pick on.

"You try to pretend that it doesn't affect you but of course deep down it's quite hurtful," she says in the video.

Yesterday, Holt told the Herald many people tended to bully others who were deemed as being different.

For her, it was the fact that she did dancing. "I think because I was a dancer I walked a certain way - I walked sort of upright and straight. They might have thought I was a snob or something.

"There was name-calling, things thrown at me and an incident that wasn't too great where they trashed a classroom," Holt said.

"It's not nice to be bullied, but that experience taught me that the people who are actually doing the bullying have their own issues. We need to celebrate our differences."

One of the bullies later apologised to Holt, who says the move was big of her.

Holt said she was happy to be involved with Pink Shirt Day as it encouraged youngsters to speak up if they were being bullied - something she had failed to do.

"I just left it. I think I'd more [likely] tell somebody if I saw it happening. But I just left it.

"I think I was just strong enough to realise that they were the ones with problems, not me."

Pink Shirt Day is sponsored by 16 organisations including the Mental Health Foundation, Rainbow Youth (a group for young homosexuals), the Human Rights Commission, the Parenting Place and Youthline.

The event began in Canada in 2007, when a group of students stood up to defend a student who was bullied because he was wearing a pink shirt. They all wore pink shirts to show solidarity with the victim.

Amanda Bradley of the Mental Health Foundation said sponsors hoped the day would stimulate "conversations about creating a society where difference is okay, where we are more mindful of our emotional responses to others, where we are more compassionate, generous and empathetic".

"How can we have more of those conversations to create environments where there is less likely to be bullying?" Ms Bradley asked.

"If we focus on bullying, that's what we'll see. If we have a conversation about generosity, empathy and compassion, then we'll hear stories about those things.

"Don't ignore the fact that some child is being tortured, but unless we address the root causes of those things we are just going to see more of them."


- NZ Herald

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