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Children give up activities to avoid being bullied

Children are deliberately underachieving or giving up activities they enjoy to avoid being bullied, research suggests.

More than 90% of children say they have been bullied or seen someone bullied for being more talented than others, a survey by the Anti–Bullying Alliance found. More than a quarter of those aged 11 to 16 had given up a favourite activity because of bullying, and half had played down a talent for fear of being bullied – rising to 53% among girls.

The research, released to mark the start of Anti-Bullying Week, highlights how bullying can hold children back from achieving their full potential, the ABA has said.

Ross Hendry, chairman of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said: "We know that bullying can lead to children missing school, failing exams, dropping out of sport, avoiding extra-curricular activities and limiting their life choices. It's unacceptable that rather than celebrate their talent, they feel that they have to hide their gifts, purposely underachieve in crucial subjects and miss out on things they enjoy because of bullying."

Despite the popularity of television talent shows, many children are scared to excel with 11% quitting singing, 8% drama and 9% dancing, while despite the success of the Olympics 8% of children have stopped competing in sport for fear of being bullied.

Achievement in crucial academic subjects is also being stifled, the ABA has found, with more than one in 10 (12%) children playing down their ability in science and almost one in five girls (18.8%) and more than one in 10 boys (11.4%) deliberately underachieve in maths to evade bullying.

"Government should take note. At a time when we need more young people to study maths and science at college and university, and to drive the future of our economy, they're actually cowering away from fear of being bullied," Mr Hendry added.

"Bullying is holding our children back and stifling their future. Let's make a stand together this Anti-Bullying Week and make it clear that bullying is unacceptable and it must be tackled. We really are better without bullying."

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