When people think about bullying, they typically picture outdated childhood stereotypes, like a kid being shoved in a locker. However, teenage bullying has incorporated newer, harsher methods, which cause both social and personal stress to the victim.
Stories like Zelda Williams’ cyber bullying experience, where anonymous abusers tormented her after her father’s suicide, illustrate that bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere.
In the classroom or the carpool, it’s not always easy to tell if a girl is a victim of bullying. The victim herself may not even realize what’s happening or be unsure of what to do to stop it.
“Teens allow their friends to treat them in ways they don’t deserve, and we’re really not sure why,” says Lisa Reynolds, an intervention and prevention specialist for Seattle Public Schools.
Lonely in a Crowded World
The Internet offers a place for teenagers to roast their classmates in humiliating ways. Hiding behind the computer screen gives teens a chance to be cruel with little accountability for their actions.
Every time her friends plan a fun evening without her, a teenage girl can see the evidence plastered all over her Facebook newsfeed. Social activity ups the ante for girls and heightens awareness about their role in the social food chain. Since everyone is plugged in, the victims have no room to escape.
Know the Signs
Being bullied, whether on the Internet or in person, effects more than a girl’s mental health. The physical toll that stress takes on her body is significant, and can be noted through symptoms like excessive sweating, headaches, and muscle pain.
It’s important to keep a close eye out for the subtle signs of peer abuse. As an adult figure in a girl’s life, it’s important that these signs are taken seriously. Some indicators include:
- Skipping class
- Dropping grades
- Sudden disinterest in hobbies
If bullying is left unchecked, the damage to the victim can deepen. A bullied student is at a higher risk for:
- Suicidal feelings
So She’s Being Bullied. What Now?
If you discover that a student is being bullied, guide the victim towards a resolution that leaves her feeling empowered, not ashamed.
While your gut reaction may be to take charge, it’s important to involve her as you work towards a solution. She needs to believe in herself, as much as she needs your support. Additionally, you may want to reach out to an organization like Secret’s Mean Stinks to get more information on what you can do to prevent bullying.
With your help, we can build a more positive environment for our girls.