Norwich teenager applauded for standing up to the bullies

Toni Court, who was bullied for three years. Picture: Antony Kelly

Toni Court, who was bullied for three years. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

A brave teenager has fought back against her bullies, standing up in front of her entire year group to give a speech in assembly about the misery that being picked on causes.

Toni Court, 14, of Norwich, said she had been picked on since she started at CNS as a year seven pupil.

She had only known one other person from St Michael's Junior School in Bowthorpe when she joined, and the majority of other pupils had been to different junior schools and already had their own friendship groups. She said that one cruel remark began three years of bullying.

'I made a couple of friends but then one boy made fun of me and everyone caught on with it,' she said. 'It was like that ever since.'

She quietly put up with it, but then halfway through year seven decided to take action.

She found that reporting problems to teachers made the bullying stop for a few days and then it would start again.

So eventually she got the courage to stand up to them. The opportunity came in a rhetoric competition, when she gave a speech to more than 100 people – including her bullies – to explain the misery that bullying can cause.

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'The first lesson of the day I walked in and one of the girls walked in and said 'I'm really looking forward to your speech. Can't wait to have everyone laugh at you',' she said.

When she finished she said the boy who started the bullying was smirking, but she got a round of applause.

Toni, who wants to train as an engineer, is urging people to think about the consequences of bullying.

'You see what it does to people and you wouldn't want it done to you,' she said. 'If something's happening you've got to tell someone.'

Mum, Carol Barnes, said: 'It took a long time for her to be able to stand up and do that.

'I think it has been a turning point for her. I am immensely proud of her and what she has had the courage to do.'


Bullying is all around us, it is hard to get away from.

Bullying lowers self-esteem so much, some people choose to ignore it.

Also, in some cases the bullied person chooses to be friends with the bullies because they say it is a joke, consequently they think it's okay, that's how it keeps going because the bullies have found that person's weak spot.

Ways to stop bullying:

Don't join in or watch bullying. Bullies love an audience. Walk away, and see if you can get others to leave too.

Of course, don't just abandon someone who is in real danger. Stop any rumours. If someone tells you gossip, don't pass it on to others. You wouldn't want someone spreading rumours about you!

Stand up for the person. If it feels safe, stand up for the person being bullied. Bullies often care a lot about being popular and powerful. If you make bullying seem uncool, the bully may stop.

If you see someone being bullied and you don't do anything to help them then it will just continue and may get worse.

People who are being bullied can feel distressed and it can have a serious impact on their life and health. In very serious cases bullying can lead to self harming, or even suicidal thoughts. Often other people at school don't realise the effect bullying has when it goes on day in day out.

I put my hands up, I have been and still am being bullied. I don't really know why I was bullied, just look at me. Me being bullied made me the person that I am today. Now I think I am worthless. I only think I am worthless because of what all those people said and are still saying about me and to me. But, luckily I have people around me who support me and don't want to see me upset or distressed, because they care about my wellbeing, however, some people don't see that.

Adults can do things to get the bullying stopped. Even if you think you've solved the problem on your own, tell an adult anyway, in case it happens again.

An adult you can trust might be a teacher, school principal, parent, someone from your family, or a friend's parent.

The only way bullying is going to stop, is if you help stop it, because if you don't then it will carry on and hurt more people.