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Norfolk charity and high school team up for national body confidence campaign

PUBLISHED: 14:24 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:24 28 February 2018

Carol Dallas, Taverham High School headteacher. The school has joined forces with YMCA Norfolk to back a national campaign over body confidence. Picture: Antony Kelly

Carol Dallas, Taverham High School headteacher. The school has joined forces with YMCA Norfolk to back a national campaign over body confidence. Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2016

A Norfolk charity and high school have backed a campaign promoting body confidence after research revealed half of young people have been bullied about their looks.

YMCA Norfolk has thrown its support behind the Be Real Campaign, which aims to change attitudes towards body image.

It came after YMCA research revealed that half of young people had been bullied over how they look, with four out of 10 of those experiencing the bullying at least once a week.

Much of the bullying focuses on weight and body shape, with 60pc of young people admitting trying to change their appearance after being bully, and 24pc saying they went on a diet or cut back on food.

In some cases, the effect was more severe, with one in 10 having suicidal thoughts and 9pc saying they self-harmed as a result.

Taverham High School also backed the campaign, helping to record a national video featuring its pupils and their thoughts on appearance-based bullying.

Charlie Smith, YMCA Norfolk mental health engagement worker, said: “I went to Taverham High School last year to deliver an assembly and to work with student Ellen Flower to raise awareness of the campaign and what the toolkit can offer schools.

“It is great to see that the enthusiasm for Be Real is still present within the school and how young people also see the importance of speaking up about bullying especially when it is focused on appearance.”

The research was done by the national YMCA charity, which spoke to more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 as part of its In Your Face report, which is part of the charity’s Be Real Campaign with Dove.

The Norfolk charity is now calling on schools to become a Be Real School, using the campaign’s Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools.

Tim Sweeting, YMCA Norfolk chief executive, said: “Bullying has always existed among young people, but this generation face increasing pressure to live up to unrealistic beauty ideals which they say come from celebrities, social media and the media.

“It’s crucial that we teach young people how to feel comfortable in their own body and that looking different isn’t a bad thing. Educating young people about the effects of bullying alongside body confidence will help to tackle this issue where it’s most prevalent, schools.”

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