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"I managed to survive": Lisa Wilkinson's poignant reminder bullying stops for no pandemic.

Update: May 9, 2020. This post mentions mental health issues which some readers may find triggering.

Lisa Wilkinson is one of the most respected voices in Australian media, the kind who makes you lean in or turn up the volume whenever she speaks.

But there was a time in the television host’s life when she silenced herself and held herself back; when speaking up or standing out meant risking abuse.

Like so many children and teens, Wilkinson was a victim of high school bullying.

WATCH: Listen to Lisa Wilkinson share her experience of high school bullying in the video below, post continues.

Video by Ten

On Friday May 8, The Project co-host posted a throwback photo of her 15-year-old self on Instagram to mark Do It For Dolly Day, which serves to remind us of the importance of kindness and standing up against the bullying we sadly lost Aussie teen Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett to in 2018.

“I have such mixed emotions when I look at this photo of me at the age of 15 because I’m immediately reminded of the pain behind that very tentative young girl’s smile,” the journalist wrote.

“At school I was being badly bullied and every day I feared what that school bell would bring. Somehow, I managed to survive the schoolyard bullies but I’m painfully aware that an ever-increasing number of kids today don’t.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I have such mixed emotions when I look at this photo of me at the age of 15 because I’m immediately reminded of the pain behind that very tentative young girl’s smile. At school I was being badly bullied and every day I feared what that school bell would bring. Somehow, I managed to survive the schoolyard bullies but I’m painfully aware that an ever-increasing number of kids today don’t. Including Amy “Dolly” Everett who, two years ago, at the age of just 14, took her own life after the bullying became too much. On this #DoItForDolly Day, please remember, if you or someone you know is struggling, there is always help available. And please, speak, even if your voice shakes. If you need someone to talk to: LIFELINE: 131114 KID’S HELPLINE: 1800 5551 800 BEYOND BLUE: 1300 224 636 With help, you CAN get through this. For a glimpse into how I did, see the link above in my bio.???????????????????? @10dailyau @theprojecttv @dollysdreamaustralia

A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson) on

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Wilkinson went on to ask that we continue to look out for one another and our mental health.

“Please remember, if you or someone you know is struggling, there is always help available. And please, speak, even if your voice shakes.”

The former Today Show co-host has previously spoken about her experience of bullying, calling it “the most awful, humiliating moment that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.”

“I didn’t tell my parents. I felt so humiliated and so small as a result of it, that I thought that [it would be best] if I keep it as much as I can to myself. Even though sometimes half the school would be surrounding me because the toughest girl in the school wanted to fight me,” she said on The Project in 2018.

“I didn’t want to excel at anything. If I was doing well at something, that meant that I stood out and became more of a target. And what it means is that kids want to disappear between the cracks.”

LISTEN: Bec Sparrow talks to Holly, Mia and Jessie about the dangers of cyber bullying and what we can do to stop it. Post continues after audio.

In an op-ed for 10 Daily, Wilkinson further reiterated how technology has turned bullying into a 24/7 attack, something she is grateful not to have experienced.

“For years I dreaded that walk to school each day. The constant threat of being beaten up. The anticipation of an unexpected shove in the canteen queue, a netball ‘accidentally’ thrown at my head during sport or, on a few occasions, the humiliation of knockout blows while crowds of fellow pupils gathered to chants of “fight, fight, fight”.”

“To cope, I did all I could not to shine. To shrink and not be a target. To disappear between the cracks. At least, however, I had the comfort of knowing when I got home and closed the door that I was in a safe haven for the next 17 hours and they couldn’t get to me. There, I could shut out the abuse, while I recharged and steeled myself for whatever the next day’s school bell would bring.

“But in 2020, for teens who find themselves the target of bullies, there is simply no escaping it. The insidious omnipresence of 24/7 social media has seen to that.”

While research struggles to capture the prevalence of bullying, Australia’s Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group estimates as many as one in four students reports bullying occurring in person and one in five reports online bullying. This can impact a variety of areas of the child’s life, from school engagement, academic achievement and even their physical and mental health.

So, in 2020, when protecting our mental health and that of our loved ones has never been more important, Wilkinson’s message is a timely reminder the fight against bullying can’t hold for the pandemic to be over.

“If not for us, then for all the Dollys we haven’t yet met. And the devastated families they leave behind.”

Feature image: Instagram/@lisa_wilkinson.

If you’re a victim of school bullying, remember help is always available. Visit the Kid’s Helpline website to chat to someone, or call them anytime on 1800 55 1800. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger, please call 000.

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