Bullying in schools is a big deal. It happens to so many students without anyone ever finding out. According to stopbullying.gov, 70.6% of young people have witnessed bullying, 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. Those are alarming statistics. Bullying can take a toll on a teenager’s mental health.
What is bullying?
Bullying is when someone is putting unwanted and aggressive behavior on someone else who has less power. Bullying can come in many different forms and happens anywhere. National Centre Against Bullying states there are four types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying – Teasing, name-calling, racist remarks, sexual comments, threatening or any other kind of verbal abuse.
- Physical bullying – Hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, pinching, tripping, or any other type of inflicting physical pain on someone.
- Cyberbullying – Inflicting pain on someone via social media, text messages, or websites. This can include rumors about someone online, sharing inappropriate pictures, or hurtful words.
- Social Bullying – Embarrassing someone in public, spreading rumors, excluding someone on purpose
For 15 years of my life, I was bullied. I was bullied for every reason you can think of. I was small and short for my age, so the other boys took advantage of it. I used to come home crying with bruises on my arms. I was picked on for my ethnicity and religion. I was unathletic, and I was made fun of for my lack of ability to perform in a sport. I am an Indian Jew. I got the Indian jokes where people who call me terrorist (happened after 9/11/2001) and people talked to me in an Indian accent. Kids also made Jewish jokes telling me all Jews should have died in the Holocaust, or they were going to throw me in the oven. I was made fun of for the way I spoke. I went to speech class for seven years, and people had a hard time understanding me. Other kids would mimic the way I spoke.
It sucked, and I dreaded going to school every day because I knew I was going to be the target. I was an insecure kid. If I had to go back, I would do some things differently.
Here are my tips on how to stop being bullied and how to prevent bullying in schools:
- Don’t pay attention to them – Other kids will pick on you more if they see it bothers you. It used to bother me all day when I found out what people said about me. Now someone can literally say anything, and it won’t bug me. Why? Because I trained myself to be confident with who I am. Sometimes I even play along with the joke because the only opinion that matters is myself. Remember, another opinion doesn’t define you, you define you.
- Tell them to stop in a stern voice or talk to them privately – Sometimes other kids don’t know they are the bully. I used to have friends who had no idea the harm they were causing me, and I was too afraid to speak up. No one is going to stop unless you tell them to stop, or you let them know that it is not ok. Talking to them in private is a simple way to let them know how you feel.
- If they don’t stop, get an adult involved – I know you do not want to get an adult involved. Why? Either because of pride, you don’t want to be known as a snitch, or you are afraid you will be in more danger because of it. I told my parents, but I forced them not to say anything because I was scared to get beat up more. Adults have something you don’t have, and that is experience. They have probably seen many cases like this. Sometimes the bully has another bully, and they are insecure. That was me. I sometimes had the opportunity to bully, and I would take it because I was insecure. I got in trouble once because he told his parents who told the teacher, and I never picked on him ever again. Sometimes the bully is going through difficulties at home. If you get a counselor or teacher involved, they can talk with the kid or do anything to protect you.
- Isolate themselves from that person – This is the hardest thing to do because sometimes that person is your friend. I had isolated myself from friends before because they were my bullies. They tried making me feel bad about it, but then eventually it faded away. It would help if you did what’s best for your mental health. You need to surround yourself with other kids who uplift you and not tear you down.
If you see someone else get bullied, don’t stay silent. Please do something about it. Stand up for the other kid and reach out to him/her to see if they are doing ok. Let’s take a stance together and prevent bullying from happening in schools.