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Being a "white, weak, Christian" kid made Angus Slade an easy target for bullies at school.
So two years ago, he left St Bernard's College in Lower Hutt, and began home-schooling.
Now his confidence is back, and he has won a trip to Sydney to meet Google bosses after entering his animated anti-bullying film in a competition. Angus, 14, has been making videos since he was 5, and in his winning entry he wrote and performed the theme song.
His mother, Carol, said the bullying had been tough on all of the family, and hearing Angus come home from school and say he did not want to live any more was the hardest thing for a parent.
"I didn't do too well at school academically and, when my husband said there was no way Angus was going back to school, I thought ‘I can't do him justice'."
But their decision to home-school had been a success, she said. Angus had a weekly tutor, but otherwise worked on his own.
"I had a lot of anxiety about it, but once I started researching and did the training I realised everything was at your fingertips," Carol said. "Home-schooling has been really good for Angus. His confidence is back."
His tutor told him about the video and his parents pushed him to attend the information day on making videos. His entry is based on the Melbourne Metro public service campaign "Dumb Ways to Die", which went viral on the internet two years ago.
Angus said home-schooling had "toughened him up" and, although he had only a handful of friends through his church youth group and band, that was all he needed.
His peers first picked on him when he cried in class. "I had a lot of stuff going on, and my aunty had been diagnosed with cancer. She was in the UK and then my mum left to go see her and I just broke down one day. That was the worst thing I could possibly have done, and after that I just became an easy target."
He said he was physically and emotionally bullied, held over the edge of the stairs by his bag, and humiliated in PE because "I could not play sport to save myself".
St Bernard's acting principal David Sefton said the college took bullying very seriously, followed up on every reported incident, and was pleased to hear of Angus's achievements.
The school provided homework for four months after his parents removed him, until the Ministry of Education approved home-schooling.
- The Dominion Post
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