Adults Should Build Kids Up, So Bullies Can’t Tear Them Down

(Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash)

Commentary, Isaiah Jackson

Editor’s note: According to a 2022 Pew Research report, nearly half the approximately 1,300 13- to 17-year-olds surveyed said they had experienced cyberbullying, meaning they had been bullied through some sort of digital communication such as social media. The most common type of bullying these teens said they experienced was name-calling, and most said they were targeted because of their physical appearance. 

We asked local teens to tell us about their experiences with cyberbullying, in-person bullying and what they think should be done about it. Isaiah Jackson, a 17-year-old from Oakley, writes about being bullied on Instagram and in middle school and how he thinks parents can help teens like him. This has been lightly edited.

I randomly got added to a group chat on Instagram. Then, people started calling me gay and ugly and weird.

First, we were talking about where everyone lives, the city and area, and how old we were. Then, we started sending pictures of us. I shared one of myself, and they were calling me ugly, saying I get no girls. Then, they were calling me gay. I told them I wasn’t gay, but they still called me gay just to say it. They thought it was funny, but I didn’t find it funny.

To this day, I don’t care what they thought about me. It was just annoying, like, “Wow, people really do this.” They were voting on who looks better. I said, “I’m not ugly,” so they started being disrespectful and laughing, thinking it was funny. In the moment, I actually did feel some type of way about it, so I said something back. Then, I left the group chat, and I never came back.

>>>Read: Social Media Changed How I Saw My Future

Now, I do online school, but we are trying to get me back in regular school. The people that I talk to don’t bully me. I call them my sister and brother because we are close. I have been bullied before at school, though.

In middle school, I had my first fight because people kept bullying me. I had enough, so I stood up for myself. I was being called fat and ugly, and one day, this person was talking mess and calling me a bunch of names. I got in a fight with him and that person got suspended. I ended up going to a different school and made friends.

Adults can help protect kids from getting bullied by building them their self-esteem. Start by telling your child they are not ugly — they are pretty and handsome — and to not worry about what people say. Put them in self-defense classes, so they’ll know how to physically defend themselves safely. Kids will touch you and expect you not to do anything, so you might have to fight and defend yourself. Teach your kids to speak up for themselves and openly correct negative comments that people might throw at them.

I think a lot of parents don’t know that their kids are being bullied because they don’t talk to their parents. They keep it to themselves, and they don’t open up to their parents. That’s why parents need to sit down with their kids and have talks and listen to what their kids have to say. Ask about their day, and see what’s wrong. Basically, what I’m saying is parents need to communicate with their children. I think that will help tremendously. When the parents know about it, then the parents will have to handle it, like going to the school’s office and sorting things out. Kids are getting bullied every day, and that can lead to a lot of deep things like depression, anxiety and suicide.

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