“Some part of me always felt different after I was bullied.” – anonymous student
Written by Isaira Alvarez. Isaira is 16 and finishing 11th grade. She has been a part of BRITE for 10 months, virtually collaborating with many groups and helping others.
Many teenagers have experienced bullying by being excluded, detested, and called names like weirdo, ugly, fat, or skinny. And many suffer from not asking for help. In schools, students have been advised to exclude their bullies, reach out for help, and not provoke bullies to avoid any further harm. What may be missing from consideration is to not allow it to irritate them. The more students get hurt and don’t ask for support, the easier it is for the person taunting them to continue their intolerable actions. It’s a continuous cycle where bullying may never end unless we take action.
An ABC article written by Julia Jacobo states, “Teens spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes on their phones a day.” On social platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat teens are comparing themselves to others and lowering their self-esteem, not realizing they are injuring themselves. What was formerly considered a significant topic is now becoming normalized.
I carefully conducted one-on-one interviews with teenage students on what it was like to experience bullying. One question I asked the interviewees was, “What is bullying to you?” An interviewee stated, “Bullying to me is when someone or a group of people are putting someone else down for no apparent reason, and causing them to feel less than others.” Another similarly stated, “Bullying could either be physical or verbal, or targeting someone specifically because of their appearance. Most of the bullying I’ve seen is when bullies are not respecting the person or are being bullied themselves so they take it out on others. It can become an altercation, and can be direct or indirect.”
Of the overall responses I received for this question, many were interchangeable. During the interview I noticed students who had been bullied produced a deeper definition than those who had never been bullied. Some of the stories I heard about students facing bodily harm or cyberbullying were upsetting. During the interviews, a student told me they were once picked on because of their appearance or because they didn’t fit into society’s social norms. Another student was intentionally excluded from friend groups because of who they hung around with, and others they felt they couldn’t speak out about their emotional problems.
How To Face Our Obstacles
It’s challenging to think children are being bullied or bullying themselves because of how they express who they are. Students can make it harder for themselves if they continue beating down who they are. A response I received from an anonymous student stated, “I was dumb. I thought they were my friends so I would hang back with them even when they said sorry, but they didn’t mean it. I just wanted to socialize, and my parents told me to stop hanging out with them and I made it hard on myself by taking it out emotionally and physically. There were times where I wouldn’t tell my parents.” The more I listened to these students the harder it became to accept that there isn’t always a solution to bullying.
Although there isn’t always a solution, the students who were brave enough to narrate their stories explained to me that bullying has drastically altered them into the person they are right now. One of our anonymous students stated, “It did make me kind of sad because I didn’t know at the time exactly why they would pick on me and they would tell the other girls not to play with me so I would come home crying sometimes. It sucked but I got over it.” Similarly, another student said, “Yes, bullying has changed me. Coming into high school I’ve grown more confident, but at the same time I’m insecure and anxious because people judge and some will exclude me.”
Bullying can undoubtedly transform a person positively and negatively, but learning from your own experience makes teenagers emotionally stronger. During times where cyberbullying is constantly happening, we continue to face our challenges together.
- Teens spend more than 7 hours on screens for entertainment a day: Report by Julia Jacobo, https://abcnews.go.com/US/teens-spend-hours-screens-entertainment-day-report/story?id=66607555