Radio Star Backs Anti-Bullying Messages from Lasswade High School Pupils

Scottish radio presenter Mark Martin returned to his former school today (15 Nov) and joined a group of pupils in pledging their support for a new anti-bullying campaign.

To coincide with national anti-bullying week (18-22 Nov), Healthy Respect is focusing on raising awareness of cyber bullying and sexting.

As part of the campaign, schools and youth groups throughout Lothian will receive helpful information for professionals including top tips on the subject, posters with empowering messages for young people and details of services available across Lothian.

To help promote the campaign, Forth One presenter Mark Martin returned to Lasswade High School in Midlothian, where he attended over ten years ago and met with the ‘Respect Us’ anti-bullying group setup by the school and Midlothian Council’s Community Learning and Development Team.

The young people have created and starred in two short films highlighting the problems caused by cyber bullying, while a song ‘I’m not giving up’ has also been written and recorded by second year pupil, Jasmine Smales.

“I’m not giving up’ was cathartic to write,” said Jasmine. “I’m lucky in that I’m generally quite a confident person but being bullied does knock your self-esteem. Music really helped though, whether that’s picking up a guitar or writing a song. And sharing your music with other people is great too.”

Mark Martin admits he was bullied when he was younger because of his ambition to work on the radio. He said: “People used to have a go at me because I wanted to work on the radio, it was as if they felt threatened by that, just because I had a bit of ambition and determination.

“It made me feel a bit down but generally I just thought to myself, don’t let it affect you. I actually used it to my advantage and said to myself ‘go and show them you are good enough to do it’. Here I am 12 years later working in my dream job. Maybe one day soon we’ll be hearing Jasmine’s songs on the radio.

“My advice to others would be stand up against bullying. Sexting and cyber bullying is terrible and it’s important that more people are aware of this campaign. There is help available and talking to someone is a good first step.”

Councillor Lisa Beattie, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “We’re extremely proud of these young people who are taking a stand against an issue which can cause lifelong emotional damage.

“Their work is so important that they have recently shown their films at a special screening in front of healthcare professionals at the Healthy Respect Practitioners’ Network event.

“So the films are already giving professionals crucial insight into the impact of bullying on young people and how to tackle this problem, which is invaluable. Clearly, the young people in this case are the experts. I congratulate everyone involved.”

Dona Milne, Deputy Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said: “It’s important that young people think more about bullying that exists in this age group, particularly the kind of bullying that takes place online.

“Young people tell us there is immense peer pressure on them to be involved in this type of activity. It’s often not consensual and causes emotional distress when intimate images or texts have been shared with others, or used to blackmail or bully.

“I would encourage anyone who would like more information or support against cyber bullying and sexting, to visit the healthy respect website or to pop along to a Healthy Respect drop-in or speak to an adult they trust such as a youth worker, school nurse or teacher.”

The Healthy Respect campaign has a focus on sexting, on-line safety linked to sexual health and respectful relationships free from coercion and pressure.