By Hannah Horner, NJCTS Youth Council
According to the Center for Disease Control, Twenty percent of students are bullied. One in five.
Or someone close to you. A friend, neighbor, sibling?
Bullying can happen anywhere, and now with cell phones, anytime. Anyone can experience it and anyone can be a perpetrator. It could be a teacher shaming you for not knowing an answer. Or a friend mockingly copying you as you flap your hands to satisfy an urge that you can’t explain nor control.
It’s no secret that it sucks to be the recipient of any form of persecution. It’s horribly degrading and ebbs at your self-esteem, especially when the subject of such scorn is something you have almost no power over Like trying not to blink for a minute, completely suppressing tics are not only impossible, but a task that becomes more difficult as you focus on achieving it. While having tics isn’t the whole story of anyone with Tourette’s or similar disorders, it is a part of it. A part that when noticed only negatively, becomes a part that you hate.
When you can’t get rid of just the moldy part of the strawberry, you toss the whole thing. Bullying can have permanent, unintended consequences. In the worst case scenario, this leads to a person taking their own life. Comorbidities, including, but not limited to, anxiety and depression are often exhibited with and exacerbated by the presence of Tourette’s Syndrome.
It’s exactly this reason that makes it imperative we stop bullying before it can escalate. But let’s face it: it’s hard to know what to do. The idea of telling someone to stop bullying you because they’re hurting your feelings is so ridiculous it’s become almost cliché and a common joke amongst youths.
So how can you realistically cope with being bullied? If it’s someone you’re close to who is hurting you unintentionally and would be receptive to any vocalized discomfort, discussing it with them is the best option. If a bully is doing so out of malice, or with the intention of escalating the situation, to the safest extent you can, don’t give them that satisfaction. They want a reaction and giving them one will only encourage similar interactions. If you’re ever in an emergency situation: they’ve cornered you or afterwards you feel like you might act to harm yourself, there are free suicide and bullying prevention hotlines that will be linked at the bottom of this article. There are also a variety of free online resources, including TED talks you may be able to empathize with, and online communities such as this one that can offer support. The best option is always to alert a trusted adult or person with authority when experiencing bullying. If you notice someone else struggling, don’t be a bystander. It can be tempting to succumb to any social pressure to mind your own business, but if it were you at the other end of those jeers, you’d want someone to step in for you.
Anyone can be a bully. Anyone can stop it.
-Suicide prevention lifeline: Call 988
-Crisis Text line: Text “HOME” to 741741
-See more at https://www.benice.org/get-help/crisis-hotline