A while back, I posted an article titled, “ Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life.”* In it, I shared my past experiences with bullies and offered coping advice for those being bullied. The recent spate of teen suicides contributed to relentless bullying has spurred me to continue this discussion with the hope that at least one child will find it helpful and beneficial.
For those who think of bullying as a childhood rite of passage, please change your way of thinking. The type of behavior that is causing young adults to take their own lives goes beyond friendly joshing and teasing. It is a deliberate social exclusion during a time in life when being accepted means everything. It is devastating when that feeling of acceptance is taken away. Add camera phones, viral streaming and social media and a bullied child could feel there is nowhere to turn or hide. If you participate in bullying, stop right now. It is not right to harass a person who seems different. It takes more courage to get to know someone than it does to fall in line with others. Break away from the crowd. You just may find true friendship based upon you as a person and not your ability to follow the leader.
To kids and teens experiencing bullying: I cannot stress enough that one’s junior high and high school years don’t last forever. I know because I survived them both. For me, high school and junior high were an emotional and sometimes physical torture. I was too skinny, too ugly, too weird, or just too whatever. I know how horrible the loneliness is. I know how it feels to be excluded from conversations and group activities. I’ve sat alone in the lunchroom. I’ve been denied a seat on the school bus, pushed off a seat on the school bus, completely ignored when speaking and laughed at simply for being myself. Sometimes, the only way I slept at night was from sheer exhaustion after crying over some mean remark or cruel prank. And, sadly, I, too, began to think the world would be better place without me in it. I am glad I never gave in to those feelings and I pray, that you never do, either. Don’t rob the world of the brilliance and talent that only you possess. Life gets better. I know that has been tossed around so much that it’s becoming cliché. And I also know that it’s little comfort when you are in pain today. But it’s true. If you can’t find anything else to believe in, at least believe the words of someone who has experienced and survived the same situations you find yourself in. Please seek help from your parents (they understand a lot more than you think) or another trusted adult. Seek comfort and guidance from your faith. Always remember that you are loved and valued and needed. There are more people in your corner than out. I am definitely in your corner. God bless you.