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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 15:39 GMT
Beckham backs anti-bullying drive
David Beckham and schoolgirl Jess Sparrow
Bullying is a concern shared by all parents, David Beckham says
England football captain David Beckham has presented the one millionth pupil wristband in the national "Beat Bullying" campaign.

The blue plastic bands, which children and adults wear to show solidarity against bullying of all kinds, have been available since November.

The cause was "close to my and every parent's heart", Mr Beckham said.

He presented the band to 13-year-old Jess Sparrow, of Northwich, Cheshire, who herself overcame bullying.

'Great honour'

Taking time out of England's preparations for Wednesday's international friendly match against the Netherlands, Beckham said it was "a great honour".

He added: "Bullying is something we all have responsibility to stamp out."

Jess - a Manchester United and Beckham fan - told the BBC News website how a gang of girls had shoved fire doors in her face, thrown bottles at her and abused her over five months.

She ended up with stomach aches and got to the point where she dreaded going to school.

"I just didn't feel like it was right to tell people," she said. "I felt that is was my fault."

After hearing about the campaign she changed her mind and told her mother Diane, who went to the school.

The bullies were suspended for a day and threatened with a school move if they did it again.

Jess is now set to be a "bullying mentor" from next year, to help others in the same situation.

"If there is somebody they [bullying victims] can trust then they must tell them, because it will get better," she said.


Schools minister Stephen Twigg attended the event in Leicestershire and said the campaign - organised by BBC Radio 1 and backed by the government - had been a success.

He added: "Beat Bullying has generated an overwhelming response from young people who have said 'enough is enough'," he said.

"By making this stand young people have shown their determination to stand by their friends and beat bullying in schools.

"We will continue to support all young people in our drive against bullying and all forms of bad behaviour schools."

The campaign has received support from sports stars and celebrities, including Beckham's England team-mates Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard, as well as U2 front-man, Bono, and Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes.

The organisers had a million requests for wristbands in just six weeks, and had to say no more were available and distribution was taking longer than anticipated.

Beckham 'still a role model'
05 Apr 04 |  Education
Bullied girl turns campaigner
22 Nov 04 |  Education
Q&A: Bullying
22 Nov 04 |  Education



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