LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Football legend David Beckham has visited Indonesia – where one in three children have been physically attacked in school – to see how his charity, the 7 Fund, is combating bullying.
The A-list celebrity and former England captain launched the fund to protect the world’s most vulnerable youngsters in 2015 with the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF).
“I feel very proud to see how my 7 Fund is helping UNICEF tackle bullying and violence in schools in Indonesia, and is ultimately keeping children, especially girls, safe in their schools so they can continue their education,” he said.
Bullying and violence are among the biggest worries for young people in Indonesia, with more than 1 in 5 teens aged 13 to 15 – or 18 million students – experiencing it, leading to mental health problems and school dropouts, UNICEF said.
The 7 Fund teaches children who have been bullied and former bullies to educate others and trains teachers to keep children safe. Bullying has been reduced by almost a third among the 7,000 children who have taken part in pilot programs, it said.
“I spent time with an amazing young girl – Sripun – who was voted by her peers to take part in an anti-bullying program to help stop violence in schools,” Beckham said in a statement.
“This has increased her confidence and she’s hopeful that other students won’t have to go through the same bullying experience she did.”
The fund — named after Beckham’s lucky number on his England and Manchester United shirts — focuses on children at risk of violence, abuse or disease.
Beckham, a father of four, has said that he hopes his own children will be proud of his work with the 7 Fund, which also has projects in Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda and El Salvador.