Bullying is arguably one of the burning social issues dealing with the psychological health of students. It is also a social issue that is very personal to me. As a victim who was left traumatized for a lengthy period of time, I can attest to the fact that this serious issue needs to be handled. It also needs immediate attention.
Statistical Surveys* indicate that one in every five students is bullied while at school and approximately 160,000 teenagers have skipped school after being subjected to it. These numbers are not just digits to be looked at. These numbers should be embedded in the people’s minds because they are definitely embedded in the psyche of those who have been/are being bullied.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is the use of force, coercion, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behaviour intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Frequency of Bullying-
There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:
- The 2018 School Crime Supplement (National Centre for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, nationwide, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
- The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.
So, the moot question that arises is – why is bullying a thing?
Most children are bullied because of physical appearances [the top most reason], race, gender, disability and a whole plethora of other such reasons. They’re bullied because they’re different, or don’t fit in.
People preach to others to embrace their differences and to stand out in a crowd. Can you tell me how these children are supposed to stand out and be themselves when they get subjected to bullying as a result of doing exactly that? Or, how do you expect them to blend in when they’re judged on the basis of what makes them special?
These are questions that have been left unanswered for far too long. Many adults opine that bullying is something that happens among children. It toughens children because the world is a mean and scary place. To them the children will eventually ‘get over’ being bullied. Let me assure you that they most certainly won’t get over it if nothing is done to stop it. So, what emotional or psychological trauma do the ‘bullied’ ensure?
Let’s discuss what the bullied children endure.
Again, as a person who’s been through this, I can attest to the fact that this whole experience is absolute hell for the person enduring it and it is mentally draining. The victims, children, dealing with an influx of emotions during their teen years feel mentally tortured and extremely vulnerable. Bullying shatters their confidence and there’s a significant dip in their self-esteem. It becomes hard for the victim to socialize after being subjected to bullying and they prefer to keep to themselves. Bullying messes with the victim’s frame of mind, leading them to believe that they’re worthless. It makes them feel insecure and vulnerable. At times, bullying also leads the victim to blame themselves for the problems which further makes them agitated and disturbed. It invokes a feeling of submissiveness within the victim along with a feeling of helplessness. They feel defending themselves is pointless and hence they continue to comply with their bully. This mental torture develops a fragile state of mind in the victim and causes them to go into depression or deal with anxiety. They’re trapped in the prison of their own mind, questioning themselves and doubting their worth.
Tell me; is it fair for someone to be made to feel worthless just because they’re different?
As a result of this mental torture, many children skip school or drop out or even retort to drastic measures such as taking their own lives! Seriously, how much worse can this get?
Why do bullies bully others? What do they gain out of it?
Why do they do this? Subject someone to this atrocious act? Most bullies do this for reasons concerning their social status or popularity, or because they feel threatened or jealous of the person they’re bullying or to simply seem ‘cool’. How is it cool to bring down someone just to rise higher in the social ladder? Is it even remotely worth it? The bully sees the victim as a threat to them and thus in order to preserve their dignity; they seek to destroy that of someone else’s.
The bully not only causes hurt to his/her victim but also does everything to keep the victim from standing up against them. And for what? Momentary satisfaction?
What are the different forms of bullying?
There are so many forms of bullying that it is shocking. Physical, verbal, cyber etc are just a few that have brought to light. There can be so many more left undiscovered because children don’t report it or talk about it. Which brings me to my next point of discussion- why don’t the victims report bullying instances or stand up for themselves?
Children undergoing this experience don’t have it in themselves to be vocal about it due to the fear of not being heard or because they feel it’s a silly thing to talk about. Most bullies continue preying on those who don’t defend themselves until they are ultimately left defenseless. Talking about it and raising your voice feels so difficult especially after their voice has been suppressed for so long. Most children worry that raising their voice might blow the problem out of proportion further which is why they prefer to stay silent. Others even worry about people seeing them differently. A lot of children are made to feel so worthless that they don’t even feel it’s worth reporting their issues.
So, how do we tackle bullying?
Now the most crucial point of discussion- How do we tackle this? Honestly, the one way is to deal with the problem from its root, to put yourself in the mindset of both the bully and the victim to really make sense of what is happening.
If you’re a victim, then please speak up!
It is okay to not feel okay and it is definitely okay to talk about it. Don’t cave or try to ignore the problem, address it and move on. It will make moving forward infinitely easier. The experience does stay with you forever but the way you respond to it does too. So please, for your own wellbeing, report it. Don’t feel like you’re irrelevant or worthless. Don’t feel you’re unimportant. You’ve been given a voice to use, not to be suppressed.
If you’re the bully –just stop!
If you’re thinking about bullying someone- don’t! Try to emphasize with the person and help them instead of dragging them down. Be human, be kind, and true. Befriend the person who has no friends. Instead of making fun of someone, be kind. Your words can hurt. Think before you use them. BE HUMAN. Be the light for someone, not their darkness. If you’re the person who’s who the bullying has been reported to, please do something about it. Try to understand the situation. Analyze it before taking measures. Be there for the victim and comfort them, everyone needs a listener. Even if you’re victim doesn’t want to take actions, do something. Make them understand that it has to stop.
Take a stand, lend a hand, and let’s stop bullying.
Let’s be kind, let’s be true, and let’s be human!