While walking down a hall one day in seventh grade, I was suddenly shoved over to the other side of the hallway. I looked over to see what happened. A huge girl was walking away laughing hysterically. I walked to class, shaken. This was the beginning of what I called being picked on. What we call it today is being bullied.
I was very small-framed and very shy at the time. I don’t remember having any friends at school because I changed schools so much. This shoving incident was the first of several episodes with this girl—whose name I didn’t even know. One evening when I was getting ready to get on the bus, she was there. She grabbed my head in her huge hands and proceeded to bang my head up against the bus. Thankfully I was not hurt.
Then one day, she shoved me again in the hallway, but this time I’d had it. I raised my schoolbooks high in the air, preparing to let her have it, when a teacher intervened. Students had circled us hoping to see a fight. We both were sent to the principal’s office, where I found out her name was Janice. The bullying stopped after this, and she never bothered me again. I don’t know what happened to her after that.
I don’t know why Janice felt that it was fun or funny to pick on a kid who was much smaller than her. I just knew it was frightening, and I felt the need to always look over my shoulder. I also went through other situations in elementary school where I was called names.
I forgot about being bullied until bullying started making the headlines in the news a lot more often.
According to statistics from Family First Aid, about 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have been involved in bullying, either as a bully or as a victim of bullying. Data suggests that younger teens are particularly at risk. Physical bullying is more common among boys, and teenage girls often favor verbal and emotional bullying. Studies show that people who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems such as low self-esteem, stress, depression, or anxiety. They may also think about suicide more often.
There are four types of bullying:
- Physical, which was the one that I suffered in junior high.
- Verbal, which I suffered in elementary school by being called names.
- Emotional, when you are made to feel alone (for example, if no one will sit with you at lunch or others isolate you by excluding you).
- Cyber bullying, which the newest one often heard about in the news.
If you are being bullied, get help! I don’t recommend fighting back to stop it like I did. However, because I did take action, it was publicly made known and the principal intervened and put a stop to it.
If you are being bullied, here are some ways to get help:
1. Report the bullying to a trusted adult.
If you don’t report threats and assaults, a bully will often become more and more aggressive. In many cases adults can find ways to help with the problem without letting the bully know it was you who reported them.
2. Don’t blame yourself and take it personally; it’s not your fault that someone is being the bully and bullying you.
They are the one with the issue. Always remember that your identity should come from God, not from other people.
3. Walk away from the bully.
Bullies love to control. By your walking away and ignoring them, they lose control of you.
4. Never be alone; make sure you are with someone or a group of people.
The most important thing you can do is to ask God for help. God is there for you! He cares what is happening to you. God is not just your parents’ God, but He is also your God. Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
If you are bullying someone else, stop! You can actually push them over the edge and cause them to end their lives. Treat others the way you want to be treated. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The bottom line is be kind to one another, because life is tough and we all need to be encouraged, not put down! Place your identity not in what others think of you, but what God thinks of you. If we all practice these things, bullying will never come from us nor affect us. And do not be ashamed to get help if you are being bullied. It could save your life! You do not have to go this alone.