By: A’Breya Young
Tag! You’re it! Ready or not, here I come! These are the sounds of childhood—when looking on the sunny side of the rainbow. Lingering on the dark side are twisters of diminishment coming to tear down the houses of self-esteem.
Bullying dominates the lives of students in schools across the nation. DoSomething.org states that in the US, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 have been bullied at some point during the school year. As the rate of bullying increases, teens become more susceptible to the development of mental illnesses. It comes to the point where students skip school to avoid getting teased and picked on. Moreover, they dread riding the bus for fear of getting beaten up. More likely than not, peers turn their backs and offer no help. Teenage years should be the most exciting times in a person’s life, but for victims of bullying, it’s not. Rather than living their best lives, they are contemplating taking their lives, perceiving that death is the only way to avoid the wretchedness of persistent bullying. It makes them wonder what life would be like if they were in a different body.
An undesirable body image has a damaging effect on a person’s mental health, which causes them to make improper measures for changing disparaging labels to ones that are more acceptable. NationalEatingDisorders.org describes how statistics of bullying correlates with eating disorders. They report that children with higher BMIs have a 63% chance of being teased compared to those who have healthier ones. We have all heard it before—whether it was directly towards us or not, “You’re fat.” The worst part is that it normally plays in our own heads rather than coming out of the mouths of other critics. These unfavorable opinions are what usually leads teenagers to developing eating disorders such as Bulimia and Anorexia. Such unhealthy weight loss strategies lends themselves too many side effects. Inflammation of the esophagus, food aversion, and binge eating are only a few. Young souls feel as though they are forced to lose weight in order to feel and look “beautiful.” Granted , there is a popular misconception that the validation of another is the key to self-confidence. Poor body image and body shaming are not the only forms of bullying, though.
Within adolescent groups, social media is just as essential to life as food and water. They cannot function well without it. There is an epidemic among us, and we are not even aware of it. It comes in the form of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. Comment, retweets and likes are what affirms a teenager’s self-worth and confidence. Ping! “OMG girl, work it!” Ping! “You’re gorgeous baby!” Ping! “You must be Shrek’s twin.” Ping! “Clown!” The good, the bad, and the ugly…
Just one sentence, one comment, one word can be the definition of bullying.
Cyberbullying is defined as the use of electronic communication to bully a person. According to bullyingstatistics.org, over 25% of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through social media. Unfortunately, less than half of incidents reported. There is a likelihood there may be no one that the individual can trust. However, there is help out there for you or anyone you may know of who is the victim of bullying. There are hotlines for just about any issue you may face. There are also advocacy groups within your school that are ready and eager to help.
If there is any time that you feel like giving up, DON’T!!! Wipe those tears and lift your head up. Take it from me—there is a brighter day on the horizon if you will just hang in there. I know it seems like you are drowning without a life jacket in sight. However, there are lifeguards who have been through the same; let them help you. Never forget that you are not alone. We are all here for you.