AN inspirational teenager who fell victim to cyber-bullying has been speaking out about her experience during anti-bullying week.
For 16-year-old Natalie Farzaneh, of Sheriff Hutton, near York, a feature in The Press in November last year charting her battle against bullying was the start of a career as a media ambassador for children’s charity BeatBullying UK.
The Easingwold School pupil said: “I got amazing feedback from that article and it really did raise the issue of bullying within the York and Ryedale community.
“Since then I have gone on to become a media ambassador and advocate, speaking about bullying.
“Over the past year I have got some amazing chances such as BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, and Radio5Live.
“I use my experiences of going through horrific bullying at school to now help others who may now be in the same situation I was in.”
Natalie, who is half Iranian, told last year how she suffered from physical bullying at school, with pupils making fun of her weight and Middle Eastern looks.
The problems worsened online, but it all stopped when she finally told her teachers.
She said: “Anti-bullying week 2012 is next week and I want to tell kids that it does get better, but you have to speak out and tell a trusted adult.
“Too many teenagers are keeping it to themselves. I didn’t tell anybody for years and that was my biggest mistake. Once I told the teachers at my school, they were horrified, because they didn’t know it had been going on and they sorted it out immediately.”
Deputy head teacher, John Butcher, said: “We are extremely proud and impressed with Natalie, not only because she is very active in school in terms of promoting anti-bullying working with our youth advocate, Amanda Gledhill, but also because of the work she has been doing outside school locally and nationally.
“It’s great to see Natalie grow in confidence. We are obviously concerned about the experience she had here when she was going through bullying, but the feedback we have had from pupils and parents is that, when we are made aware of bullying, we do tackle it effectively, and it’s led us to try to get pupils to look out for the signs of bullying and look out for each other.”