UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Millie Bobby Brown has opened up about being bullied at school and the extreme online abuse she’s faced since the release of hit Netflix show Stranger Things, despite being just 12-years-old when it started filming.
Speaking on World Children’s Day at United Nations headquarters in New York alongside David Beckham, the actress said her friends and family helped her to overcome the negative effects such online abuse caused, but that millions of others don’t have the same support network.
“I was bullied by a group of students. I remember feeling helpless. School used to be a safe place. Now I was scared to go,” she said during her speech, before going on to talk about cyberbullying: “It’s a terrifying feeling to look at your phone and see that messages people are sending you are full of hate, abuse and even threats,” she said. “Like all bullies, they gain their power by taking power away from others. By making them feel as scared and helpless as I did.”
She continued: “I was lucky. With the help of my friends, family and people around me, I was able to overcome these negative feelings and take my power back. But millions of children aren’t so lucky. They’re still struggling in the darkness.”
“Bullying and online threats are never harmless, never just words. It puts children’s mental health at risk. It causes stress. And in the most extreme cases, and in areas around the world where conflict and violence are daily threats, it can lead to self-harm. Sickness. And even suicide.”
In his speech, David Beckham commended Millie for opening up about her personal experiences and emplored people to listen to the younger generation. “Please join me in this mission for children, and let’s listen to our young people, because they will show us the way. I am proud to be here lending my voice to this conversation and supporting brilliant young activists like Millie Bobbie Brown who is using her platform to command attention to the cause,” the former football star said.