As a teenager, you might think that bullying is a harmless phase elementary school kids go through, and has nothing to do with you. But the fact is, whether you call it bullying, teasing, or “just messing” with someone, it happens every day and at any age.
People bully others often to feel a sense of control or power. Bullying isn’t an accident, but is done with the intent of hurting someone, either emotionally or physically. Victims are usually thought of as “easy targets” and have a hard time defending themselves. And almost all incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group.
Bullying isn’t harmless, or “no big deal” — it is serious. Check out these facts about what the lasting effects of bullying can be. (Source: StopBullying.gov)
People Who are Bullied:
- Have higher risk of depression and anxiety that may persist into adulthood:
- Have increased thoughts about suicide that may persist into adulthood. In one study, adults who recalled being bullied in youth were 3 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or inclinations.
- Are more likely to have health complaints. In one study, being bullied was associated with physical health status 3 years later.
- Have decreased academic achievement (GPA and standardized test scores) and school participation.
- Are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
- Are more likely to retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.
If you are being bullied, it’s hard to know what to do in the moment to protect yourself. Here are some strategies for you to consider:
- Tell them to stop.
- Walk away. Don’t let them get to you. If you walk away or ignore them, they will not get the satisfaction they’re looking for.
- Tell an adult you trust. Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem. In some cases, adults need to get involved for the bullying to stop.
- Find somewhere to go. Walk away and go to place where feel safe and secure, like the library, a favorite teacher’s classroom, or the office. If you’re outside of school, you can always go to your nearest Safe Place location.
- Stick together. Stay with a group or individuals that you trust.
- Find opportunities to make new friends. Explore your interests and join school or community activities such as sports, drama, or art. Volunteer or participate in community service.
If you are friends with someone who is acting like a bully, that doesn’t mean you have to join in. If you stand aside and do nothing, you’re just as guilty as the bully! Here’s what to do instead:
- Take a stand and do not join in. Make it clear that you do not support what is going on.
- NEVER watch someone being bullied. If you feel safe, tell the person to stop. If you do not feel safe saying something, walk away and get others to do the same. If you walk away and do not join in, you have taken their audience and power away.
- Support the person being bullied. Tell them that you are there to help. Offer to either go with them to report the bullying or report it for them.
- Talk to an adult you trust. Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem. Reach out to a parent, teacher or another adult that you trust to discuss the problem, especially if you feel like the person may be at risk of serious harm to themselves or others. (Source: StopBullying.gov)
If you are a victim of bullying and are feeling lost and scared, contact your local Safe Place program or find someone in authority who can protect you. If you are considering suicide, call 1800-SUICIDE right now!
Teachers, counselors, and other adults are there to help, and seeing a counselor or other professional does not mean there is something wrong with you. Never blame yourself, and never be afraid to get help when you need it!
Websites to Visit
Check out these websites for more information about bullying:
- Stomp Out Bullying
- Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- Accredited Schools Online – Bullying Prevention Guidebook
Statistics – Bullying (Source: CDC):
- Five percent (5%) of students did not go to school on one or more occasions during the past month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
- Nearly 8% of students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at least one time during the past year.
- One in five (19.9%) students reported being bullied on school property during the past year.
- In 2007, about 4% of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been cyberbullied during the school year.
- During the 2007-2008 school year, 25% of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis. A higher percentage of middle schools reported daily or weekly occurrences of bullying compared to primary and high schools.