Teen Challenge – How to deal with being a target of a bully
Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!
Hello, it is me Sharon from Mentoring A Dream. With October being Bullying Prevention Month, for this week’s blog, I will focus on an issue which has and still does affect teenagers, bullying. Today we are going to talk about what it means to be the target of a someone who bullies and what one should do if they find themselves in that position.
Be sure to check in with your teen this week. Ask them about how school is going or how they are feeling about things. Reaching out to them with a simple question is a great way to engage and show interest in them.
What is bullying?
The dictionary definition of bullying is:
The use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone typically to force him or her to do what they want.
When the definition is adjusted for the school version, according to StopBullying.Gov bullying is
the unwanted aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
There are different types of bullying. The four main ones are
Most bullying was taking place during or after school until cyberbullying became more popular. Now it can happen twenty-four hours a day with the internet and social media.
Bullying and teasing others isn’t a new phenomenon, it has been going on for years. Why do we continue to let it happen? One of the common reasons we hear is, it is just letting kids be kids. What? It is letting kids be mean to other kids. I think my mom always told me to be nice to others. And do on to others as you would have them do onto you.
Most of the stories I have read about how kids are responding to being a target of a bully, is they kill themselves. Why? They feel that there is no way to get away from it. We as a society haven’t made a safe place for them to go nor done a lot to stop it. And what about the one who bullies? Since it seems so hard to prove who does it, we have so many rules protecting them, they wind up not being punished for what they are doing to others. So, in the end, the bully is not only protected by the system but also by a fear of retribution if the person being bullied chooses to report it.
A real life story
In a blog post I originally posted in October of 2017 called Teen Issues - Bullying, while doing some online research, I stumbled across an article about a teen who was bullied in her Tennessee high school which led to her committing suicide while on her family vacation. Her name was Allie Johnson and she was only 15.
I looked at Allie’s obituary online. A sweet young lady is pictured sitting in a chair. There are many others who have been the same way before they committed suicide. How sad she died at 15. She had so much of her life ahead of her. It is even worse when we think about how she died.
and response to it
According to an online story on www.wsmv.com, a girl named Jenna Manus, who didn’t know Allie personally, but saw her at school, decided to share her feelings about the situation. She wrote and posted an open letter on Facebook to her classmates and friends asking them to put other people’s feelings first over jokes and teasing. Just because they think they are teasing, doesn’t mean the person being “teased” feels the same way about it. Here is a link to the story Teen suicides raise concerns about bullying in local high school
I read Jenna’s open letter on her Facebook page. It was a well written teen look at what her school was doing to create an environment that contributed to Allie’s death. Here is an excerpt;
“The bully culture we have all created at Lebanon High School is our fault. We created this. Let’s start treating others with kindness; despite our differences. Let’s quit lifestyle shaming our classmates, and instead find good in others. Let’s stop spreading rumors and instead start spreading kind words…”
It continues, but at the end she says,
“Imagine how much nicer it would be at a school where instead of spreading hate, we encouraged our classmates, complimented our classmates, encouraged our classmates, accepted our classmates, and even go so far as loving our classmates. Now I don’t think that we can all change in a day. I don’t expect to come back from fall break and everyone be kind. But why not try?”
From this situation, the community in Lebanon is creating a support group for parents and kids to get people to talk about bullying. It may be the start of the Allie J project to focus on anti bullying and suicide prevention. Hopefully starting these types of conversations here in Lebanon and other places helps to slow down the occurrences of teen suicide caused by bullying. Adding this to what Jenna said in her letter, they may be off to a good start.
Since my last post...
In a WRKN follow up to Ally's story, a Rally for Ally was held a couple of months later with the goal to reach out to young people who may be struggling so they can see there is “a solution to every problem.”
Following the forum, Wilson County schools started using the app STOPit, where anyone can report bullying anonymously. A message is then sent directly to a school official who can investigate the report.
Allie’s friend Macey Justice says the app is a good idea.
“Some people don’t speak out to other people because they’re scared or they think they’re going to be treated differently,” Justice told News 2. “The anonymity is a good idea.”
If you want more information about the app or other safety and wellness solutions, here is a link to their site STOPit Solutions
There is a lot of work to be done to help teens decide killing themselves isn’t the only way to get bullying to stop. Bullying is not ok. Too many people are getting hurt or dying from it. We need to find ways to start being nice to one another. It is not going to get better until we start talking about solutions instead of reporting that another teen has killed themselves because of bullying.
What can adults do to help stop bullying?
According to StopBullying.gov, when adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.
When you are faced with this situation, here is some information from stopbullying.gov to help your student stand up to those who bully.
Coach your teen to confront the one who bullies
Look straight at the bully and tell him or her to stop. Be clear and speak calmly. Let them know you are not playing around.
If you don't feel safe standing up to the bully, just walk away. Don't fight back and don't respond with anger. Walk away and find a trusted adult to talk to about what is happening.
Coach your teen to talk about how they feel
Talk to your parent, teacher, or an adult you trust. Be honest about how you feel. This helps you feel less alone and the adult can help you come up with a plan to stop the bullying
Be aware of your surroundings: don't go somewhere where bullying can easily occur and stay close to adults and other students.
Keep talking! Don't keep your feelings inside. Keep the communication between your parent or trusted adult open. Don't face it alone!
Shawn's Way is about teens and bullying
Do you know about The Way Series? It is a series of coming of age novels for teens and young adults about the challenges they face. Shawn's Way focuses on the teen challenge of bullying. The second book in The Way Series, Shawn's Way, is a novel about Shawn Townson who attends Mulston High School and is the target of Josh Alberts, one who bullies. During National Bullying Prevention Month, we will be talking about ways to deal with and prevent bullying by promoting the message that is portrayed through Shawn's Way, that suicide isn't the only solution.
Follow this link to my books tab to learn more about the series and to pick up your copies!