When I think about my experience of bullying one of the immediate feelings that comes back to me is loneliness.
One of the things I struggled with the most was speaking up and asking for help. I felt like I wasn’t going to be taken seriously and that I would lose friends because of it. If I’m honest a lot of the time I felt like I didn’t deserve to ask for help. I thought that I deserved to be treated the way I was because so many people saw what was going on and chose to do nothing to help - I always thought that there must just be something wrong with me. This was one of the toughest parts of my experience which left me feeling incredibly isolated and really knocked my confidence.
United against bullying
It is so important that we are all responsible for spreading kindness and showing compassion to others. So whether you see negative behaviour online or offline, please use the resources you have got to raise your voice. Use the report tools on social media, speak to a teacher or leave a note on their desk to make them aware of the situation, talk to an adult you trust or reach out to support the person being bullied. Your small action will make a much bigger difference than you think.
Over the course of lockdown and with restricted activities we will probably all have been on social media much more than usual and may even have witnessed or taken part in some negative behaviour online. This might make going into school a more daunting experience and it might feel difficult to know where to turn to for support at the moment.
But we can make such a positive change when we support each other, so here are my four top tips for speaking out if you are experiencing bullying or see something you think is wrong.
My tips for standing up against bullying
- Talk to someone you trust – speak to somebody who you feel comfortable talking to. It could be a parent, guardian, teacher, friend or anyone you feel comfortable with. If you are not at school for any reason but would like to reach out for some support at school, try to look into the different people you might be able to contact for some extra help. You could also reach out to helplines who offer support with bullying and mental health.
- Report – If you are witnessing negative behaviour online make sure that you use all of the report tools within different platforms to flag up what you have seen. This will help social media sites detect this behaviour more easily and support you with putting a stop to it. Remember that no one will know that you have reported anything and you will always remain anonymous. You can also report things through your school. If you’re struggling to approach a teacher, maybe try leaving a note on their desk or ask to speak to them quietly after school.
- Take some time offline – with so much technology around us it can be hard to escape bullying these days but try to take a step back from everything and spend some time away from the screen. Go for a walk, get some fresh air or take part in a different activity. Doing another activity might help to clear your mind a bit and express yourself.
- Don’t bottle up your feelings – use something you love and that makes you feel happy to express yourself through. I use dance because it always helps me feel freer and more in control of my feelings.
If you are experiencing bullying, please don’t suffer in silence. No matter how lonely it might seem, I promise that there are so many people who are happy to help you. I know how hard it can be, but reach out if you need the help – I found it particularly difficult to express myself verbally so found that it helped to write things down before going to speak to someone. Do whatever works best for you and take things at your own pace. You do deserve help and things will get better.
Author: Elsa, 18
Where to get help
We all need a bit of help sometimes. But it can be difficult to know how - or who - to ask. For tips on asking for help, as well as information on what support is available, have a look at our page on reaching out for help.