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Are You Letting It Happen? by Kathleen, Teen Blogger

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Teenagers tend to be entirely individual creatures. We have similar interests, but we’re also learning so much about those things and ourselves that our opinions can vary greatly. Yet there is an issue in our culture that most teenagers can say they’ve experienced in one way or another: bullying. We’re aware of it, and we do our best to stop it, but it remains a constant presence in our lives. School is back, and there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing this problem again, but hopefully with the suggestions and information below, we can make a start at getting rid of bullying.

Noticing is one of the most important things we can do when it comes to stopping bullying. For this, we need to flip off that switch in our mind that tells us to ignore the kid getting taunted by their locker. Once that happens, and the reality of the bullying that’s all around us sinks in, we’ll be able to stand up for the kid getting called names while he tries to Cyber Bullying-book covercollect his books. Remember: “There are two kinds of evil people in the world -- those who do evil stuff, and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t do anything to stop it.” –Mean Girls.

Breaking out of that safe by-stander shell is a difficult task. Part of what makes it so hard is the misconception surrounding what it means to stand up for someone. Kids and teenagers tend to share the belief that reporting equals tattling, but that’s not true. In reality, the difference is like a newspaper reporter informing us of the war in Afghanistan, and a tabloid reporter telling us that Jennifer Anniston has bought a new apartment. Talking to a trusted adult about what you’ve seen isn’t the same as getting someone in trouble over something insignificant. Bullying is significant, no matter how small or large it is. If you report it, you are not the guilty party.

Beyond that, we need to be willing to stand up against other forms of discrimination: racism, homophobia, ableism, sexism, religious discrimination, etc. Hearing people say the ‘n ‘word, or constantly call something retarded, is just as unfair, even if it’s not directed at anyone in particular. It encourages a certain way of thinking. If we think differently, then we have the right to say so. And if people continue to behave unfairly or be disrespectful, then talking to an authority figure can really help.

If you’re being bullied, reporting the truth is not tattling. As the schools like to say: “Everybody is entitled to a safe and stable learning environment.” As cliché as that is, it’s a cliché for a reason. People want to protect you, and they want to show you that you’re not alone and never will be. Groups all over the world are working to send this message. The Trevor Project, DoSomething, BeMoreHeroic, and so many other fantastic individuals are dedicated to reminding people that the world can be a dark and lonely place, but we can all do our part to make it a little less lonely and shine a little brighter.

If you’re someone who has been a bully, or is one, no matter how deep in you get, if you want to change things, that door will always be open. Talking to somebody isTeen Cyberbullying Investigated-book cover a great start. Understanding your own actions is a necessity. From there you can learn more about what it is that makes you how you are (how, not who), and hopefully you'll be able to come out of the experience a little stronger and a bit less confused about things.

If you want to recognize the issues associated with bullying, there are several days dedicated to just that: Pink Day (also known as Stand Up Against Bullying Day) is September 13th this year, so wear something pink to school and stand up. Purple Day is held to increase awareness of epilepsy. Similar to Pink Day, everyone wears something purple for the day. On the Day of Silence, held to stand up against homophobia, participants stay silent for the entire day to represent how LGBTQ youth are forced to be silent about their sexuality/gender identities.

Need help? Call the Halifax Regional Municipality Bullying Hotline: 490-SAVE (7283) or check out this Help Line  site on bullying.

Kathleen, Teen Blogger

 

 

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