If I told you outright that this post was going to be about bullying, then the majority of people would stop reading and close the tab. That is the sad reality of the matter – because, honestly, I probably would have done too.
But I ask you, kindly, to read to the end; you might just learn a thing or two.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people, resulting in approximately 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
10 to 14-year-old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
The brutal truth is that bullying is happening around you – right now. It isn’t just a case of name picking at secondary schools, or taking away food from your packed lunch in primary schools, those tedious remarks whispered about work colleagues can be defined as bullying too.
This post is by no means me preaching, or looking for sympathy. It’s to raise awareness, because the worst mistake I have ever made is not telling anyone about what went on at the time. Years on, I still feel the effects. It is only in the recent months that I have been truly recovering.
I was that kid at primary school who got teased for wearing glasses and seeming to know it all. I didn’t know it all, I just enjoyed learning new things. I always had a bunch of questions to ask and I was never afraid to put my hand up in class to answer questions.
That was bromidic teasing back then, and I could brush it off. No one was going to stop me from learning.
It changed when I went to secondary school. Year 8, it was. I can remember it as clear as anything.
I walked into the library and there was a group of boys in my year who started pointing and laughing at me when I walked in. Then they began to make pig noises, calling me fat. The name ‘Miss Piggy’ or ‘Fat C***’ seem to stick with me from that moment on.
I had my first panic attack when I returned to class, and thinking about it now makes me physically sick.
The names behind my back, or to my face, continued from the same group of boys and to this day whenever I see a group of guys I will cross the street to avoid them. I fear men with the dread that they will verbally abuse me in public, or even talk about me to their friends. My self-confidence has been knocked massively, and I do pin some of my social anxiety on that moment from when I was thirteen years-old. It’s a shame that I didn’t have the confidence to tell anyone, because who knows, I may not have struggled as much in the past couple of years.
I have always been conscious about my weight. I will never be nor have I ever been skinny. Back then I used to dance for at least 6 hours a week, and that took me all over the country. I have always done exercise, but have unfortunately have not been blessed with a good metabolism. I have to watch what I eat now, despite going to the gym every other day. I don’t like it, and I struggle to accept it, but that doesn’t warrant the right for other people to make comments about the way I look. Even to this day, just recently in fact, people were questioning my appearance. Too bad I found out what they were saying…too bad I walked in when they were in the midst of their bitching session. Who said it got better when you’re an adult?
Last year I was sat in the common room of the sixth form I went to, in the midst of my own personal problems. A girl in my form was sat on her own sobbing her eyes out. The people who I was sat with were laughing at her, making some really nasty comments about her – imitating her, and just all round slagging her off.
I couldn’t stand it. I got up out of my seat and went and asked if she was okay. The other girls continued to laugh, and now they were laughing at me for going over there. But, I didn’t give a damn.
When the girl left, she gave me a bag of sweets and it hit home that she did appreciate the small gesture I made all those months ago. You should stand up to bullies, even if it is only going over to comfort the victim. It is with no exaggeration that I write this now – but asking if someone is okay and putting an arm around their shoulder could be the difference between life and death.
Bullies are often victims themselves, so I have been told. But being on the receiving end of their behaviour, I struggle to sympathise with them, I really do. Those people have scarred me in more ways than one, and I am not scared to admit that anymore.
Stand up. Speak out. Don’t let others define you.
Oh, and bullies, keep those snide remarks to yourself. You never know who is listening.