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How Do I Get The Bully to Stop?
If you are asking this question, I know that you are hurting from the actions of others. I know how it feels to be desperate for change and not really knowing how to change what is happening. I know the desperate feeling of being so alone. YOU are NOT alone. Many of us are or have gone through something like what you are going through. In your desperate desire to find someone, be careful who you turn to. But know you can turn to someone, someone you can trust, someone who will be looking out for your best interests.
When my father left us (my mom and siblings) and didn't come back to visit very often, I hurt so very bad. I felt like I was abandoned, that no one wanted to be with me if my own father didn't want to be with me. At our church, adults and other kids my own age, even my best friend, would treat me differently because my parents started the divorce. They would tell me I was not a good person. "Debbie, you don't belong here." They wouldn't invite me to their house any more. They wouldn't invite me to activities with the group anymore. It wasn't my fault that my parents were getting a divorce, why did they alienate me? I couldn't make the hurt stop, no matter how hard I tried. I cried myself to sleep so many nights. My friends were not my friends anymore. My mom was going through her own pain, so she didn't talk to me much about it. I don't think I knew how to talk to my mom.
When my parents were in the divorce, I was in private school for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. This was my entire world at the school, church and home. In our church, the girls and women wore long dresses, at least to the knee or longer, and long sleeves. I was not allowed to wear any pants or shorts, or anything other than a dress. So when I went to public school in 9th grade, I stood out like a sore thumb. So many of the girls laughed at me, and wouldn't invite me to go to their parties or their activities. I had no friends who were girls. In my attempts to divert the hurt, I became friends with a guy who was several years older than me. This guy introduced me to speed the drug. I had never been introduced to drugs before, and even though I had been taught it was "bad", this friend introduced me to the pill so very slowly, until my defense was down. He was my only friend at that time, why shouldn't I trust him, I thought. But now that I am a mother, I know he was the guy my mother should have warned me about. He was my diversion from the pain, but it was a diversion that led me into a direction that was harmful to my health and wellbeing. Fortunately there were other adults who came into my life who gave me new direction, but I have not forgotten the pain.
Please allow my experience and life lessons be helpful to you. I know that bullying hurts and keeps on hurting. Today I read a story from a young girl who shared her experiences that were similar to mine, but done on the internet. I knew her pain because I had experienced it too. Do you feel that way? Do you feel your own pain as you read someone else's story? The beauty of her story is that she learned how to divert the hurt, and how to stop what they were doing to her by changing her passwords and internet information and reporting them.
Always remember you cannot control them, but you can control how you respond to their actions. I know it hurts. Many times it is impossible to stop the hurt, but you can divert the hurt. Can we talk about ways to do that?
1. Connect with a trusted adult to let them know what is going on. There are so many of us who don't want to report or tell about what is happening to us, that we are being bullied. Teachers used to just ignore the situation if no one reported it, and many times didn't know what to do if it was reported. But times have changed. There are more adults aware of the consequences of bullying. There are more adults willing to do something about it than ever before. The first person you should consider telling is the person who loves you the most because they gave life to you, your parents. If you don't tell one of them, you will never know what the response will be. But remember, if your parent doesn't want to do anything to help you, there are other adults who will. A trusted teacher is a second choice because the school has the authority to take action when the incidents involve students at the school. Only about ten percent of students have been reporting the bully incidents, so the teachers don't recognize the extent of the bullying in your school. You need to tell, and you need to report every time it happens. If you don't tell, the school is not as responsible because they will claim they didn't know. There are school counselors whom you can tell too. They are obligated to respond.
2. Hold your chin up. When we are being bullied we feel defeated, don't we? A bully is one who takes advantage of others because of their power over the others, and it is done repeatedly. I say, hold your chin up, no matter how you feel. It will make the bully feel less confident about bullying you! Believe in yourself. Believe you are a special human being. Believe that you are unique because you are you! Know that you have a great life ahead of you, no matter what happens today. Tomorrow is another day. Know that there is life after high school or middle school, a better life than being the emotional punching bag of an insecure bully. Do you realize that many bullys are insecure and their lashing out is a way to try to make themselves appear stronger? It is true. That's why I tell you to "hold your chin up." Your worth does not depend on the bully's determination of your worth. Believe in your worth!
3. Be a friend to someone who needs a friend. Every human being needs a friend at some point or another in every day. If you feel you have no friends, there are others who feel the same way. Have you ever realized that when you start helping someone else with their problems, your own seem smaller, or easier to deal with?
When I thought it was so painful as to the way I was treated just because my parents were going to be divorced, I found a friend who was being beaten by her dad. There were bruises on her legs so she always wore long pants. She was so afraid to go home every day. Wow, my problems sure looked small next to hers. I could be a friend to her, and help her feel her worth and importance in spite of how she was being treated by the person who is supposed to be protecting her.
4. Join or Start a group in your school to address the needs you find. There are so many great groups at school to address violence, discrimination, hate, and even groups to focus on fun activities like dance, or music. Find a group that you can relate to. If you can't find one you feel comfortable in, start one. There are so many organizations that already exist that are just waiting for a student to say, I want to start a chapter at my school. SADD (Students against Destructive Decisions), Toastmaster Youth Program are a few examples. San Clemente High School started their own group, Cool 2 B Kind, because a boy in their school committed suicide after he was treated harshly in school and he just couldn't get over it.
5. Get professional help, if necessary. Bullying hurts and keeps on hurting. Grandma Frieda is 83 years of age and her eyes still tear up when she tells about her experiences in school. She was just 10 years old, when she was locked in a school locker until the janitor found her. She was called Nazi just because she was German. She didn't understand all the ramifications of World War II, so it only hurt to be so alienated.
Did you know that Meatloaf (the singer) was locked in a ball box at school when he was just 7 years old? He continued to be bullied throughout middle school. He was a bigger boy than the others and they called him "Fatso" and names like that. Even his own dad called him "Meat" because of his size. At age 10 he was 175 lbs. The students then started calling him "Meat Loaf". Meatloaf struggled with believing in himself for many years, but he became a star because he had great talent. In a recent biography presentation, Meatloaf told that when he started making a lot of money with his music, he didn't want to be called a star, and only after he went to a counselor and talked about it was he able to get over it. But finally he was able to accept that others called him a "star" even though he still didn't believe it.
Believing in yourself is important. Sometimes it is very hard to do, and talking to someone, a professional can help you figure out how to do it. REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
BARE Bully Awareness Resistance Education, provides education through engaging speakers and resources for parents, students, teachers and the community about how to resist the bully epidemic and make a difference in our world. BARE is a nonprofit corporation and shares education and inspiration to create change.
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