Page last updated at 00:17 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 01:17 UK

Video aims to stop diabetes bullying

By Jane Elliott
BBC News


The Diabetes UK video hopes to help put the record straight about Type 1 diabetes

Louise Bodeker was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 14.

For the first six months she injected her insulin openly, but a crass remark by a fellow pupil on a school trip changed all that.

"I had to inject halfway up a mountain doing adventurous things and I had to inject in front of everyone," said Louise, who is from Oxfordshire.

"One of the lads made a massive thing of it saying: 'Why do you have to do that in front of everybody? It's gross.'"

Louise's confidence was knocked and it was a long time before she felt happy injecting in public again.

Worried by the experience of Louise, 18, and teenagers like her, the charity Diabetes UK has launched a short viral video called Setting the Record Straight, which is aimed at teaching children and young people the truth about Type 1 Diabetes.

I go out for a meal and I have to do my insulin at the table... the looks I get are quite disturbing

A viral is a video that spreads quickly via the internet and has been used successfully by a number of companies for advertising their products - from eyebrow-wiggling children to advertise chocolate bars, to impromptu dances in stations to promote mobile phones.

Amanda Neylon, Diabetes UK digital media manager, said it hoped its video, which shows a group of teenagers teasing a young girl about her condition, will have a good saturation among young people.

This is the second time Diabetes UK has used viral videos, although this is the first time one is aimed at those without the condition as well as those with diabetes.

"We had a good response last time and a lot of comments from people wanting us to make clear about the distinctions between Type 1 and 2.

Louise Bodeker
Louise was hurt by comments about her injecting

"The anti-bullying viral video is a different way of letting young people know more about Type 1 diabetes and helping them understand that other young people with the condition should not be singled out or victimised," she said.

"We know that young people are especially receptive to new technologies and we are always keen to use the internet and social networking sites to communicate with them."

The film is available on YouTube, social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, and the Diabetes UK website.

It can also be directly embedded into websites or blogs.

Libby Dowling, a care adviser with Diabetes UK, said that when it had asked young people for their feedback about living with the condition, many had been hurt by misconceptions about Type 1.

"What we really need to do is to raise the awareness around children with Type 1 diabetes," she said.

"It is still quite a misunderstood condition. There are still a lot of myths and misconceptions and downright discrimination.

"In the media there is an awful lot about children being overweight and the link to that and developing Type 2.

"That is an important message to get across.

"But we have to remember that the vast majority of children with diabetes have Type 1, and that is nothing at all to do with being overweight or lifestyle factors.

"It is something that could not be prevented and it is important that we do not ignore the needs of this big group of young people."

Type 1 Facts
Type 1 diabetes - also known as insulin-dependent diabetes - develops in those whose bodies are unable to produce insulin
Classed as an autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children, affecting up to 95% of under-16s who have the disease
Unlike Type 2 diabetes - which is more common in adults - Type 1 diabetes is not related to lifestyle factors

She added: "Nowadays young people are texting and e-mailing. The traditional leafleting that I grew up with are just not appropriate."

She said that young people with diabetes have been dubbed "druggies" or taunted about their lifestyle.

Seventeen-year-old Katie, from Merseyside, said her teacher made her inject in the school toilets to avoid offending others and she was warned her needles might be considered a weapon.

"That knocked my confidence," said Katie.

"It is a type of bullying. Other students were saying they did not want me to do my insulin around them as it made them feel sick.

"I want to say if you don't like looking at it don't look.

"People said things like 'do you have the one where you have too much sugar or too little?'

"They ask questions like: 'Were you fat? Or have you eaten too many jammy dodgers?' and I get comments and funny looks when I inject.

"I go out for a meal and I have to do my insulin at the table. They liken it to drug abuse and the looks I get are quite disturbing."

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