There is a saying that school days are the happiest of your life. Well, they weren’t for me.

Comedian Paul Merton put the quote into perspective when he said: “My school days were the happiest of my life. Which should give you some indication of the misery I’ve endured since.”

In fact, others say the only time to enjoy school days is when your children are old enough to go. Many people didn’t enjoy the experience. My school days were endured.

When I was 12 we moved from Leeds to Manchester and I transferred to De La Salle College. I joined the second form three weeks after term started which didn’t help with my assimilation.

My name had been on the register and I was given the nickname Killer in absentia. Apparently rumours spread about this half cannibal and half Yeti due to arrive at any time and devour another boy in the form who was called Commons, who just happened to be as hard as nails.

Then I turned up, small and skinny enough to be mistaken for an albino Twiglet. Add a Yorkshire accent and I was a prime target for bullying that lasted a year.

De La Salle was a rugby union playing school and, fortunately, I wasn’t bad at sports. I cultivated the friendship of two prop forwards and one bully was hung on a hook in the cloakroom at the end of school time and not found for an hour.

I challenged another to a boxing match but the headmaster stopped it, much to the disappointment of the PE teacher who was fond of blood sports.

There were two other boys in our form – one small and chubby, the other tall, glasses and aggressive – who were often the butt of jokes or pranks. Boys laughed at them, not with them. It was rarely if ever malicious, because I don’t think any of my fellow students thought that deeply about it. But it must have been very hurtful to the two concerned. They had no friends, not even each other.

I make mention of my experiences because this is Anti Bullying Week when children and young people, schools, parents and carers, campaign to raise awareness of a very real problem and try to stop it.

Bullying brings out a nasty streak in young people they probably don’t even recognise.

They may see picking on someone as a bit of fun, unaware of the harm and misery it can cause. For this is a problem that has to be continually tackled with each generation.

The message says it all
 

We know about it; probably every adult has experienced it in some form, but they don’t.

The Anti Bullying Alliance has compiled research that shows 25% of children are worried about bullying and 46% said they have been bullied at school.

A stark fact is that 16,000 young people between 11 and 15 are absent from school at any one time because of it.

It gets worse for vulnerable children – 56% of those with learning disabilities are picked on, 90% of those with Asperger Syndrome are victims and almost every child of a minority ethnic background has suffered verbal abuse.

Anyone can become a target – a girl for being too pretty, a boy who doesn’t have the right trainers. It has always existed and now we have the coward’s charter of cyberbullying that can be even more pernicious.

Research shows that, in all its forms, it can lead to mental health problems and self harming. Some youngsters have even committed suicide. Childhood and teenage years can be a rights of passage: they are not scripted by Enid Blyton.

Youngsters have enough problems growing up without being bullied as well.

Youngsters who are victims or concerned parents can get advice from sites supporting the campaign such asBullying advice, Bullying UK and www.antibullyingweek.org.