Bullying Hurts

Students experience threats, abuse from peers

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Bullying Hurts

Rosemary Gregg, Head Editor

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Constant insults, threats and abuse– these are things that some students deal with on a daily basis. It can be easy to hide behind a screen and comment on someone’s new Instagram picture, but that doesn’t mean that physical bullying ceases to exist, too. Bullying can come in many different forms.

Bullying is when an individual or a group of people with more power repeatedly and intentionally causes hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond. In  a recent Prospective Newspaper survey of 222 students, 37.7 percent of students reported having been cyberbullied before. Freshman Laney Hubbard was one of the responders to the survey.

“I want my bullies to know that before they start bullying someone, know the person’s situation, life, story,” Hubbard said. “Know what the aftermath of the bullying would be. One of my favorite quotes is by Harry Styles, ‘It only takes a second to call a girl fat, and she’ll take a lifetime trying to starve herself. Think before you act.’”

Hubbard’s bullying began as middle school started. She was not allowed to date, have social media or text males. With these things growing in popularity, Hubbard began to feel left out by her classmates.

“I was bullied for not being one of the ‘skinny popular girls,’ is how I thought of it,” Hubbard said. “I wasn’t as skinny as I wanted to be, and I’m also very short, which I still get bullied for. I get made fun of for being the ‘goodie Christian girl.’ I would share my views on God, but I felt like I always just got put down for it.”

Hubbard says she is still being bullied, but that it has slowed down since middle school. Hubbard turned to self-harm and became suicidal, and while she has overcome that, her past with bullying has had lasting impacts on her.

“[Being bullied] affected my attitude toward myself and others,” Hubbard said. “I noticed that I started being meaner and had a bad attitude all of the time. I noticed that the littlest things made me really mad. It changed my perspective on myself, because my self esteem is below sea level now. I have almost no confidence in myself. I also have anxiety attacks now because I get overwhelmed when I think of this stuff.”

While Hubbard has been bullied herself, she also wants people to know that she has bullied someone before too, that everyone has.

I think everyone has bullied someone in their life,” Hubbard said. “Whether it be words, gossip, something posted on the internet, etc., it still hurts people. I learned that you need to know people’s stories and situation before you say something to them.”

An anonymous responder to the survey reported being bullied because of her race from the beginning of middle school until the ninth grade, when she attended Elkhorn High School in Nebraska.

“I heard remarks about my hair and nose, about how I am their slave or how I shouldn’t be here,” she said. “I was repeatedly called the ‘n’ word and ‘big mama.’ I simply did not respond to any of the ignorance and continued focusing on my life.”

The bullying continues to occur, but the student has learned to deal with it now and has accepted it as a part of her life.

“The bullying taught me to be conscious about where I am and who I am around, because one day it could turn physical, which is a situation I don’t want to be a part of,” she said.

Bullying is not only an issue for female students. Senior William Ferguson has also dealt with bullying throughout high school.

“People passive aggressively interact,” Ferguson said. ”They don’t want anything to do with you. They kind of just kick you to the side and don’t care.You’re not blending in, and it makes them feel uncomfortable. That’s why they don’t like what they see.”

Ferguson’s experiences with bullying consist of other guys making sexual sounds towards him.

“They make smacking sounds with their mouth,” Ferguson said. “I tune it out, I think about the bigger purpose in life. I let it pass by, because it’s not worth the time dealing with it.”

Ferguson’s bullying began freshman year and has affected how he interacts with other high schoolers.

“It has a tendency to make me think that everyone else around me is not really there for me either,” Ferguson said. “It brings a sense of loneliness and a sense of ‘no one wants me here. “It’s something I struggle [with] a lot.”

Ferguson struggles with a low self-esteem as an effect of being bullied throughout the duration of his high school years.

“I’m not as confident in myself as I should be, I’m not motivated to do things, and because of that, I’m behind on things that should be ready to go, like college,” Ferguson said. “I don’t have that same confidence because I feel like I can’t keep up. [My experience with bullying] creates a higher level of stress, anxiety and a feeling of unworthiness that wants to creep around. It’s kind of like a ghost haunting you in the back of the mind.”

Beginning in her childhood, sophomore Jocelyn Sims experienced bullying. When she started to get to know the other kids in elementary school, she realized that she was treated differently.

“Often, people would put stuff in my hair and pull [it] in the halls or in the middle of class, asking me to show it to them since I kept in it a ponytail all day and everyday,” Sims said. “And for my weight, people would exclude me from certain games on the playground, and they led me to an area to trip me one day, which is where I was cornered and taunted for a little while.”

Photo | Hunter High

Sims’ experience with bullying has only progressed throughout her education. Because of being bullied regarding her hair, Sims avoided taking her hair down until high school. She admits to still feeling out of place, as she eventually started experiencing symptoms of anorexia. Sims would not eat for days and worked out constantly, leading her to lose more than 50 pounds over one summer.

“I became the epitome of insecure,” Sims said. “I was disgusted with myself and being in my own skin, and I felt like an outsider compared to everyone else. It still affects me today, as I refuse to let myself gain much if not any weight for fear of becoming heavier again. I still feel self-conscious about my hair too. I feel like it’s just out of place compared to everyone else because everyone stares at me.”

Sims has grown more cautious and aware of bullying around her, and she has restricted herself from bullying others, going as far as to avoid making jokes that could be perceived as bullying.

“What you do actually does have power,” Sims said. “Instead of looking through your lens, your own eyes, people need to have more empathy for others’ positions. Don’t hurt others, but don’t play the victim. Don’t act self-righteous, but don’t be insincere. It’s hard to explain, but people just need to know that what you do, every single little thing has a domino effect on the world around us.”

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