Former Dancing with the Stars pro Derek Hough posted a passionate anti-bullying message and note of inclusion to Instagram as millions of children head back to school and resume their studies.
Hough, who experienced bullying as a child, posted the passionate note directed at children and teens to watch out for one another.
The message, which made the rounds on the social media site for several days prior to Hough’s posting, asked kids returning to school to reach out to those who appear alone or struggling to fit in. The post then asked for kindness toward one another because you might not know the struggles someone may be facing outside of the classroom.
Derek has always been open about his experiences with bullying in the past, stating on Instagram in 2016 that he was told he was not good enough and that he felt his dreams would not come true.
In October 2014, the performer and Emmy-winning choreographer spoke out against bullying at the GLSEN gala.
The former Dancing with the Stars pro opened up about his shocking past during the star-studded event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. GLSEN is an education organization working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. It also promotes LGBT cultural inclusion and awareness in K-12 schools.
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I was bullied as a kid. I was told that who I was wasn’t good enough. At times my dreams felt like they’d never come true. My story is not unique. But there’s a new empowerment brand for kids doing something to help. It’s called @tiagirlclub. They teach kids how to choose to be happy. To be their authentic selves (despite what other’s may say). And that yes, anything is possible! I’m so happy to be TIA GIRL CLUB’S monthly Trailblazer (role model) for December. Not only did I design a Treasure Box for the TIA GIRLS, I designed a first-ever TIA Box for Boys! Both are full of items to help spark creativity and the belief that you control your destiny. I hope you check them out and consider buying one for the kid in your life this holiday season! #TodayIAm #TakingTheLead #YourWordsMatter
Hough spoke of his own experience with bullying, stating it can be physical, verbal, or emotional and that words and threats are just as painful as fists, particularly when young people and adults use social media to express their opinions, reported Us Weekly.
“They [bullies] would tie my ankles up with a very rough rope and hang me in a tree upside down, spit on me and call me names, even hold a gun to my head,” he said during his 2016 speech. “Coming from a family of hunters, I assumed the gun was real. I didn’t tell anybody — my parents or teachers or friends or sisters.”
Hough then revealed that dancing and self-expression became his way to deal with bullying, stating that the art became his safe place, where he could grow and flourish. He departed Dancing with the Stars in 2016 at the close of Season 23 when he was paired with actress and dancer Marilu Henner for his final season. He came in eighth place that season. Hough is the pro dancer from the series with the most overall wins, scoring six mirrorball trophies.
Dancing with the Stars will debut its new season Monday, September 16 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.