By Eric O’Neal, Duke TIP Intern and NCCU Graduate
Having a conducive day at school is every young scholar’s ideal scenario. But what do you do when another student is bullying you, physically, verbally, and interrupting your learning environment? It can often be hard to deal with such a negative force, and you may often feel like there is no way to stop it. In fact, according to the Incidents of School crime and safety: 2013 report, 19.1% of students had experienced bullying, with 7% missing a day of school due to concerns of personal safety.
I was bullied throughout elementary and middle school myself, mostly because of my hearing aid and difficulties growing up with ADHD, as well as my quiet nature. Though it may seem like a common coming-of-age event, bullying has no place in school, the home, or anywhere for that matter.
Turning enemies into friends – In sixth through seventh grade, in particular, I was bullied in my classes. In a rowdy classroom, where I was the quiet student and considered a nerd, I seemed like an easy target. One boy in particular always came after me, constantly berating and heckling me. I almost despised him until one day, I just sat and watched his interactions with others. Apparently, he was also a victim of bullying, and had it far worse than me.
As I have never been the sort of person to let injustices pass me by, one day I stepped in on his behalf and stood up for him. It wasn’t deserved, it wasn’t reasonable, and some even called it a perplexing decision. However, some bullies take the negativity spread onto them and pass it onto others. I knew how it felt to be bullied and I just didn’t like the idea of someone else being down. After this experience, we both began to stick up for each other and became good friends throughout middle school. It was a good experience in not using fire to fight fire, but rather using understanding to get to the root of the problem.
Though my experience wasn’t as violent as others, the roots of bullying are effectively the same. It is often a learned behavior from adults or other people the bully sees as role models. It can also be from a lack of attention at home, which causes a lashing out at others for attention, often in a counterproductive way. Fortunately, many schools have adopted anti-bullying policies, and many groups have resources to aide students against the problems of bullying. You can find a few below:
You should always tell an adult or school counselor/teacher if you are getting bullied or witnessing, and remember, ‘ignoring them’ does not always work. It can make the bully up their attempts to agitate and get a rise out of their victim. Don’t don’t just wait for it to go away. Do something. You’ll be helping more than just yourself if you do.