Singer speaks out as Respecting Others week launched. Nicola Porter reports
Pop singer Charlotte Church has revealed how she was bullied at school - for not being rich enough.
The young diva said she had been upset and embarrassed by bullies who targeted her after moving to a new school.
She decided to speak out about her experiences at independent school Howell's, in Cardiff, in support of Respecting Others Week, a Welsh Assembly anti-bullying initiative. In a written statement, Charlotte said:
"Most of my classmates were from much wealthier backgrounds than me - the more obnoxious of them constantly reminded me of that."
However, the 19-year-old former choir girl had the last laugh after finding fame as a singer and amassing a multi-million pound fortune. Figures released this week by children's charity ChildLine reveal 4,864 youngsters called the Welsh helpline about bullying in 2004-5. Nearly three-quarters of callers were girls.
Launching the Respecting Others campaign with the publication of examples of good anti-bullying initiatives in Welsh schools, education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson said: "Many schools take the problem of bullying seriously and educate their pupils on the importance of respecting others. We want these schools to help others at an early stage of developing policies."
The good-practice examples are drawn from a review of schools' policies, being carried out by Cardiff university.
Gorseinon infants in Swansea was one of several schools rated highly in the government-commissioned research. Schemes include pupils rapping anti-bullying tunes in the playground, a listening tree where pupils can write their problems on paper leaves, and a football-style red card system where bullies are shown a yellow card before a "sending off".
St Teilo's Church in Wales secondary, Cardiff, where Ms Davidson launched the week, has come up with a "no-blame" policy for bullies - a common theme for many Welsh schools which believe bullies need as much help as their victims.
Other plans announced this week included an anti-bullying network made up of schools, children's charities, Assembly officials and local authority representatives, and a counselling website.
Charity Stonewall Cymru launched its Dealing With Difference campaign, advising personal and social education teachers on lesbian and gay bullying. And inspection agency Estyn will publish a report on anti-bullying strategies next January.
Jane Fitz, head at Howell's school, said: "Charlotte was actually famous when she arrived here and she never reported being bullied. We take incidents of bullying very seriously at the school and have stringent policies in place."