Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.
Bullying is something that is far too common, although schools and wider society have taken proactive steps to decrease it in recent years compared to what it used to be like. Now with technology, there are further opportunities for judgement and comparisons to be made. I myself have not experienced constant bullying at all. This I am grateful for; however, I have had an occurrence happen and have had second-hand experience among my friends and classmates at school.
One day in intermediate, I remember when I was playing on the playground, a girl I barely knew pushed me off the equipment onto the ground. This came out of nowhere and I remember feeling shocked and hurt. I had never experienced anything like this before and I remember thinking to myself what I must have done wrong to have this girl treat me like that. But there was nothing I did wrong, and I know that looking back on it. Other experiences I have heard about happened to my friends in high school involving name calling and girls being mean to each other. This usually had to do with judging others on how they look or making fun of others only because they seem a bit different or act or look different. This had a major impact on their self-esteem as a result.
However, staying together as a close-knit group of friends was majorly beneficial in that we had each other’s backs and were there for one another when we felt down. As we grew older, we realised these were only words that perhaps others were saying to make us feel bad because they themselves felt bad for whatever they were going through in their life. It is interesting talking with one of my friends recently about our own bullying experiences at school and realising just how bad it was. At the time we saw it as an inconvenience but accepted it as a part of life back then. Now we are aware more than ever it is not okay to tolerate any form of bullying.
I remember in high school when I was considering moving schools because of all the nastiness from girls I was hearing, I was told by a girl I knew a little bit, to switch classes to her own instead. I remember the first thing one morning walking from the school office to the new classroom and seeing my new friend waiting outside the door for me. I think she was just as excited as me. I remember thinking how kind that was and how much it meant to me. This was the nicest thing I had experienced thus far in high school. From then on, high school was a great experience with the friends I had who surrounded me. I believe as long as you surround yourself with supportive people, there is pretty much nothing you cannot overcome. Even though back in high school bad things that happen can seem like the end of the world.
One issue I can see that must be improved is reporting of bullying. I am aware from my own and others experiences, it was one thing speaking about it to friends, but another approaching a grown up you trust to tell them about it, so that increased action can be taken about it. Reporting instances of bullying is a good way of reducing it in schools all over the country. It should be more normalised and young children should not feel afraid to do this. I also hope in speaking out of my own experiences and others doing the same, this can comfort those going through a rough time, and realise you are not alone.
Also, when seeing others being bullied, kids should be encouraged to step in and say it is not okay, while making sure the one affected is doing alright. Standing up against bullying would spread the message proactively among young people that it is not okay to bully.
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