'School bullies made life hell, now I worry about my son' - Sarah
Model Sarah McGovern has spoken about being bullied as a child and said she fears for her son as he begins school next month.
The Dubliner (38) said she was targeted by jealous classmates in primary school and didn't tell her parents about it for several years.
Sarah admitted the bullying became so bad at times that she would pretend to be sick so she wouldn't have to go to school.
"It started in primary school. They were so-called friends. It would be days here and there," she told the Herald.
"Certain years were worse than others. I remember one year - the worst - I kept pretending I was sick to my mum so I wouldn't have to go to school.
"It was a group of girls who would follow me home or pick on me or throw stones or hit me with bags, whatever it would be.
"They would make fun of me in school and call me names. Some of it was physical and some of it was more mental."
The mum-of-two eventually got over the experience when she went to college and told herself she had to move on.
"It was just down to jealously, really. It was primary school that affected me more and I didn't tell my parents until I was about 21 and I'd finished college at that stage," she said.
"It definitely hindered my confidence an awful lot until I got into college and realised I needed to grow up and get over it and deal with it myself and realise it wasn't my fault.
"Particularly in primary school, you think you've done something wrong or you're at fault."
With school just around the corner, bullying is on Sarah's mind as her son gets ready for junior infants.
Jude will begin primary school next month, and his mum said she'll be keeping an eye out to make sure he is not bullied.
"I really bottled it up, but I'll try and keep those lines of communication open with Jude and watch out for signs like if he's becoming introverted or not wanting to play with certain people," she said.
Sarah reckons the playground could be an even tougher place for children these days as they have the added stress of online bullies to deal with.
"My fear is the whole social media end of things - it's a minefield," she said.
"I'm worried about how a teenager would cope with online bullying."
Sarah said she would be up for the chance of going to schools with a councillor to talk to children about her experiences.
"I've thought about that, but I don't know if it's for me, to be honest. I don't know if I'd be able to stand up.
"I might do something along the lines of going along with someone who's a trained councillor and giving my experience.
"That would be something I wouldn't mind doing."