Opera star Paul Potts hits out at bullies
Opera singer Paul Potts says people shouldn't be afraid to speak out against bullying.
The Englishman, who shot to fame after winning Britain's Got Talent, talked at Royal Oak Primary School in Auckland today of his experience of being bullied for his love of singing.
"For years I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it, I felt like if I spoke to someone they would feel the same way toward me as the bullies did," he said.
"I felt powerless."
He told the audience of 600 students he endured 12 years of bullying, which crushed his confidence and self-worth.
However, he said singing helped him persevere. And he said everyone should feel empowered to seek help.
"The most important thing to do is to speak to someone about it.
"You should never feel it's your fault. It's not about who you are; it's more about who they are."
Potts described the school talk - the first of what he hopes will be many anti-bullying speeches - as one of his toughest audiences.
"It's nerve-racking. I honestly find it easier singing in front of massive audiences or judges."
At primary school Potts was beaten up repeatedly and picked on. It got worse at secondary school where he said the thrashings became "more intensive".
On one occasion he was thrown into a window by a fellow student and cut his head open.
"I felt so much pressure not to tell a parent or a teacher that I said I tripped into the window."
Now with a film biopic released about his life, One Chance, and an international tour, he said he was passionate about sharing his story and encouraging others to open up.
"It's all about empowerment. We've got to look at how we approach bullying ... People being bullied need to know that they're not on their own."
Potts also joined police television stars Constable Bryan Ward and his sidekick, Bobby, to promote Pink Shirt Day, a national campaign to raise awareness about the power to prevent bullying.