Bullying Hurts – And It Needs to Stop

It was an ordinary day at school: Friday afternoon, everybody’s ready to go home, nobody wants to be in class anymore. But of course, we have that all-school assembly, where we have to hear somebody talk to us for over an hour… which is usually complete torture for teenagers. What I didn’t know about this assembly is that it was something that I’m sure I will never forget. The assembly was about bullying, and how words and actions can hurt, and how a simple smile to somebody you thought you could never talk to really counts.

A psychiatrist that specialized in bullying talked to us, shared experiences he had seen in his career and had us do exercises with each other after he talked. It was like the scene out of Mean Girls, the “She doesn’t even go here!” scene where all the junior girls gather in their school gym and they apologize for everything they’ve done that was hurtful, and they talked about things other people had said that hurt them. This was what happened, but it was real, and the stories were real.

I had never thought bullying happened in my school. I go to a pretty small private school in LA. All the kids in my school are nice to each other, or so it would seem. I thought I knew every person’s story, because we’re such a small school. I had heard about people killing themselves because of bullying, and I had always said “Bullying is so terrible”, but I never thought it happened in my school until that day. One of the speaker’s exercises was to have people stand in front of the entire school and talk about their own experiences with bullying.

My first reaction was that nobody would raise their hands, but I watched one of my good friends raise her hand, and stand in front of the podium and share things I never knew about her. I never knew she had been called mean names, and I had never known that it had turned into depression and anorexia. Watching her share her story was the bravest thing I had ever seen anybody do. I watched a girl I had known forever say that she had been called a “slut” over the Internet for wearing certain outfits, and I watched a boy share that a family member of his had a disability, and had been made fun of for it. Even a bully came forward and apologized to everyone personally they had hurt. Then I saw another girl, and another boy.. And so on. You could see everyone shocked at what they had just heard, and shocked at how brave each of those kids who shared were.  I realized that day that to me, bullying isn’t something I hear about, It’s something that happens to people around me, and I know now that if I see it, I need to stop it. Cyber bullying happens on sites like ask.fm where you can ask questions anonymously, and it can really hurt peoples feelings

Anyone can be a victim of bullying. Whether its verbal, physical or cyber bullying, or whether you’re the bullied, the bully or been the person who has seen it happen and thought, “Wow, that’s terrible,” but then continued on with their life. This should not be the case. If you are being the person bullied, stand up for yourself, and tell somebody that can help you, a person you trust or bullying hotline. You can also visit websites like stopbullying.gov where you can read real life stories on how people have prevented bullying. If you see bullying happening, DO SOMETHING!

Featured image via ShutterStock

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