What You Need to Know About Bullying
There’s no getting around it. Bullying sucks.
When someone calls you a nasty name or writes something awful about you on the Internet (which sometimes seems like a real-life version of the Mean Girl‘s Burn Book), it can make you feel worthless. Even if you know it isn’t true.
You may wonder how people can be so mean in the first place. And the sad truth is that bullies are usually acting out because they have been abused or bullied themselves.Let’s get one thing straight: That does not make bullying or treating people like crap OK.
It’s hard to say how much bullying is taking place exactly, because people are often afraid or ashamed to admit that it’s happening. The Pacer Center reported that more than 160,000 students stayed home from school last year for fear of being bullied.
But bullying isn’t just happening at schools. Thanks to technology, some people send mean text message and post embarrassing pictures on the web. This “cyber-bullying” can be the worst kind of all- because unlike school, there’s no break from the Internet. “Hazing” which sometimes happens on college campus to initiate someone into a club, is another form of bullying and is often illegal. People often say they are “Facebook stalking” someone when they are looking at posted pics over and over- but real life staking is one of the most serious and dangerous types of bullying.
Research tells us that bullying can create a really awful environment for people, and coupled with other risk factors like depression and a lack of a support system, can make someone want to end their life. Even just witnessing bullying can make you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and even afraid. Perhaps ironically, it’s bad for bullies too. They are just as likely to attempt suicide than the person they were bullying.
So, what can be done about it?
One of the main ways to stop the cycle of bullying is to raise awareness that bullying is dangerous and not OK. It’s equally important for those who being bullied (and that includes the bullies themselves) to learn how to deal with all that negativity. It’s not fair, but knowing that you matter no matter what someone says can help you mentally defend yourself.
If you are dealing with cyberbullying on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media site, you can report it and in some cases ban the bully from your network. Read up on that here. And as always, you can call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) when you are struggling emotionally.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever been bullied? How did you handle it? What do you think can be done to stop bullying?
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