I would like to introduce a very impressive young lady who has written the following blog post. She is a guest blogger who will be appearing here from time to time. Her name is Ava. She is a 17 year old high school senior who presents herself like a mature 20-something professional with an engaging personality and an infectious smile. I met Ava at an entrepreneurship camp for teens this summer, where she said that she wanted to use her own painful experiences having been cyberbullied, and her success navigating through those extremely difficult times, to help others rise up and see that life is not defined by mean words shouted out in person and online. I invited her to write an article that would help my readers (specifically parents) understand what she had gone through, how her parents discovered it, and the role they played to help her become the confident and smart young lady she is today who wants to lead and help others.
I hope you enjoy Ava’s message and can learn from her perspective as a teen who has been a victim of bullying. And, stay tuned, she will be contributing more articles from time to time!
Post contributed by guest blogger, Ava Dancy
As we all know, bullying is tough for the victim, of course, and for you as parents. I mean, how do you really know if your child is being bullied at school? Some kids are quite ashamed, and telling their parents is the last thing they would do. So what do YOU do? As a teenage girl who is a victim of physical, verbal, and cyber bullying, let me tell you a little about what happened to me:
At the time, I was in 6th grade. It was a new school, new environment, new people, new EVERYTHING. Of course I wanted to be liked. At that age, who doesn’t? I tried pleasing everyone and tried being their friend, which worked in the beginning; then everything went south. Sooner or later, the name calling started, next came the shoves, and then public humiliation. This lasted all through 7th grade.
“What makes kids bully others? Why does it seem so easy”? Those are questions I have been asked numerous of times, and the answer is quite simple. You have to remember that many of the bullies are victims of bullying themselves.
In order to build up their self esteem, they have to tear another’s down.
It’s a cycle. However, not all bullies are victims. Some kids might not have it as well as someone else, so again, in order to make themselves feel better, they belittle someone else. You don’t know what goes on in another kid’s household, you only know yours.
If your child is being bullied, or maybe you just suspect it or are worried about it, here are some tips:
- Ask your child about school. If your kid was once excited about school, then all of sudden started to dread school; something might be going on. I would always wake up an hour early just thinking about school. I loved it. I loved my teachers, my “friends”, and I just loved to learn. However, when the bullying started, I hated going. I stayed up all night telling my parents how I did not want to go, I would start crying in mid sentence; and it started to concern them because they didn’t know what was going on. So don’t be afraid to talk to your child. Keep in mind, if you don’t know what’s going on, how can you help them?
- Have you noticed a difference in your child’s behavior? Suddenly he/she just wants to be left alone? Do they seem a bit antisocial? Don’t worry, it’s normal. I know they just want to be by themselves, in their room, but do not give them that space. Demand they spend time outside of their room. Kids need to feel that support, whether they admit it to you or note. They might even surprise you and open up a little to give you a sense of what’s happening socially or at school.
- Check your child’s social media page(s). Kids often resort to social media for bullying. In 6th grade, everyone had a Facebook page, and I wanted one too. Of course at that age I didn’t have permission, but I created one anyway just like many kids do. The dumbest decision I ever made, by the way. The kids were so cruel, not only to me, but to each other as well. It was like a new world was unleashed. Even though I didn’t think so at the time, it was actually a good thing my mom snooped and found my page. If she hadn’t, things could have taken a much darker turn. So parents don’t be afraid to snoop. Snoop away!
- Mood swings. Mood swings. I asked my mom if she noticed a difference in my attitude when I was being bullied and she said yes! Being a victim of bullying is obviously not a happy time. It’s hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re constantly being put down physically and verbally, it hurts. Please just be patient with your child.
- Ask around. Talk to your child’s teacher(s) to check on your student. Since bullying often happens at school, the teachers may know a bit about it. Ask about their grades. I was always an A-B student, never a slacker. I loved everything about school. Then, when the bullying started, all of that changed. It was like all of those mean names were fogging my head. That was all I could think about. I was so worried about what would happen to me at recess. Sometimes I would even stay inside for recess with the teachers, where I knew I was safe.
To say getting bullied is painful is an understatement. Take it from someone who has been through it all. If I had not opened up to my parents and had the support I needed, I definitely would not be here. Don’t let your child go through it alone. Get in their business and invade their privacy. Trust me; it will all be worth it in the end.