Almost 1/4 students reports being bullied throughout the school year. That’s 22% of the population of students in any given school. When you think about that statistic, how do you feel? Personally, I feel sad for the kids out there who are dealing with their own bullies or finding the need to bully other people. Surprisingly, bullying doesn’t just end as you enter adulthood either. I was a victim of bullying during my days in public school growing up and I’ve found myself dealing with bullying in different forms as times have changed. Apparently starting a blog in middle school won’t make you the coolest kid on the block! I can’t even imagine how many of you deal with bullying as social media progresses. One study states that 160,000 kids in the United States refuse to go to school each day for the fear of being bullied, which I and many others likely have or still do relate to. I’m frequently asked by many of you whether I still deal with bullying, and the answer is yes. I don’t find myself often dealing with bullies, but you’d probably be surprised at how often people find the need to say something to me behind a computer screen without realizing the negative results of their opinion. Just because you think you may be helping a situation by voicing your opinion doesn’t mean you are, and I’m only human. However, I don’t find myself getting as upset when I’m bullied as I used to. If someone is putting you down, they are doing so because they’re unhappy or insecure with their own life. Instead of feeling angry, feel sad that this person is sad enough to put you down to bring themselves up.
Over the weekend I had a bullying situation which reminded me that bullying still exists, and the experience is one of the selling points for me writing this post. I’m not going to say I wasn’t extremely upset with the situation because I was. I was frustrated, slightly livid, sad and ultimately disappointed in the fact that someone felt the need to put me down so severely without actually contacting me and saying anything. There are many different ways to bully someone, whether that bullying is through social media or in-person, bullying is bullying. Social media bullying is just as severe because the extent of the damage can reach a new level without anything occurring in-person. When you post on social media, you don’t expect people that you know and at some point really respected to slap you in the back. Plot twist, they will. And you can’t blame that on yourself or social media. You do have to be incredibly careful with what you post, but you also need to be careful about the people you surround yourself with.
During episode 81 of This is Life Unfiltered (listen now on iTunes if you haven’t yet!!) my best friend Alix and I discuss how many friends we’ve gone through to finally realize the traits we require our friends now to have. If someone is willing to go behind your back and do something once, what makes you think they won’t do it again? AND, if one of your friends does that to someone else, what makes you think they won’t do it to you one day too? Be careful with what you post, but be even more careful with the people you have in your life.
Though I’m not in school, here’s how I dealt with in-person bullying when I was and my advice for those of you struggling with bullying in your school.
Reach out for help. I remember feeling so ashamed of wanting to tell my mom or school counselor about any bullying I dealt with, but when I came to terms with the fact that bullying is not normal and very unnecessary, I realized that people who do mean things should be called out for what they are doing. Reaching out for help is very scary, but once you finally do, you’ll realize that you don’t have to go through anything alone.
If the bullying doesn’t stop once you’ve reached out…at this point it might be time to call in a third party outside of your school. This may be the parent of the person bullying you or a police officer you come into contact with that will directly tell the person that bullying is not okay and their actions will come with consequences. There is no excuse like “kids will be kids” when bullying starts. Kids will be nice kids, no bullying necessary.
If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. Bullying will only become more severe, and you can do your part as the student in a community to tell someone else. Don’t worry about being bullied yourself if you ask for help- your school and your parents will be able to protect you if need be.
It’s so important to realize that bullying is not the end. I wish every young person out there knew that they don’t have to go through bullying alone. Once you ask for help, the journey gets much easier. Bullying is absolutely terrible and every form of bullying is equally terrible. You are much stronger than you think.
For more help with bullying and mental health, call 1-800-273-TALK.