Updated: Jul 13, 2019
“Suck my dick”, said a tall, dark, skinny young man, to 16 year old me who had just entered Pre-university college. This sentence startled me at first. It hurt me but I couldn’t recognize the origin of that feeling. So, I did what every teenager would do; questioned myself, blamed myself for standing there, talking to him, perhaps even existing in that space and time. I wanted to disappear completely.
Disgust was another prominent emotion I experienced, something that took me a long time to come out of. Bullying is illegal now, but it can subtly and hurtfully get into college and school spaces. It takes a toll on a teen’s mental health, eating habits and most importantly, their self-esteem. The image they have of themselves, becomes completely distorted.
As a parent, you may be surprised that your child, who was once really confident in school, has become a very shy and nervous teenager in college. He or she is probably being bullied. As a parent what you could do, is talk to your child frequently, appreciate their small achievements, ask them to stand for what is right, and most importantly, tell them that you are always there for them.
But what if the challenge is that they don't open up? You are trying your best but they just don't seem to reach out. Well, this may be more deep-rooted than you think. Most often, they do this in the fear of being reprimanded ( instead of being helped ) for the bullying or challenges they are facing. The last thing they want is for their family to also blame them or turn against them. In which case, constant subtle validations you give them: through a hug or a word of support could make them comfortable enough to share their pain and agony.
Parents usually give instant solutions to existing issues their teens face. It's not what they are looking for. Solutions like : Go to sleep, be strong enough, don't worry about what people say ( blah blah blah ) are inspiring BUT annoying to your teen.
As a Parent, conversations with your teen needs to be mature, Believing that they are also adults, individuals, who have the right to and maturing to make their own decisions. so talk to them like friends. They are sure to open up. ( Provided you continue treating them like a friend after they have opened up )
My parents asked me to report the bullying and I did as they told me to. The boy was suspended.
But things did not end there. Most of my class turned against me and I faced more criticism. I was strong enough to deal with things in college only because of the support I had back home. Physical bullying is another common practice among boys and these traumatic experiences one faces, defines what kind of adults they become.
Anuja Kapur, a Delhi-based psychologist and socialist says, “Bullying is a global issue and it is the most common abuse exercised by kids because of their varied behavioural characteristics.” She identifies the following four major behavioral characteristics associated with bullying:
Intentional: Children can hurt other children by accident; but school bullying is always intentional and meant to cause some sort of harm, either physical or verbal. “This behaviour persists even after the victim has asked the bully to stop,” says Kapur.
Repetitive: School bullying occurs repeatedly as seen in many cases. Bullies often target children who they know will not do anything about the behaviour, so they can continue this act for as long as they like.
Hurtful: Bullying is a negative behaviour that may include physical or verbal harm. It can also greatly affect the psychology of the one who may be bullied.
Imbalance of power: If two children hold an equal amount of power, one cannot bully the other. This imbalance of power can come from different sources, including age, size, strength, and social status.
Bullying can cause irreparable damage to your teen’s personality.
So, don’t let them fight that battle alone. A hug and some validation could work wonders.
- by Muskan Raj