I just watched this video through Tumblr: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdkNn3Ei-Lg&feature=share and I was in tears. A young boy, only fourteen years old, uses cards with words written on them to tell his story. He has been bullied all through school for being gay, he has self-harmed, he has contemplated suicide. But he is still here, and he ends the video by saying that he is stronger than this, and he has a million reasons to be here.
First of all I want to say Jonah you are an inspiration for sharing your story with the world, for standing up and speaking up about the awful realities of bullying in schools. I cannot emphasise how proud I, and so many others are of you. Please know that you have support and love everywhere. I know you don’t know me, but I am thinking of you and hoping things improve for you. I promise that one day you will come out the other side of this, and you will always be the better person.
Bullying is an issue which affects almost all of us in our youth in some way, either because you picked on the fat kid, joined in with laughing at that one girl with braces, or because you were on the receiving end of it all.
I was bullied all through secondary school. I was called names, had things thrown at me and was ostracised by almost everyone in my year. I had no friends, nobody I could hang out with at break time or sit next to in class. Luckily I got involved in something called the UK Youth Parliament, and met an amazing group of people outside of school. For the five years of my secondary school career, they were the lifeline that kept me going. I never cut or attempted suicide, but I thought about it a lot, and I really think if it wasn’t for the youth group and the workers I might not be here right now.
It seems like people get picked on for almost anything. You’r hair is ginger, you’ve got wonky teeth or you wear glasses, and you become an instant target. Bullies fear difference, and the only way they know how to cope with it is to attack. It’s vicious and nasty and can ruin lives, and we need to do something about it. Yes there are loads of anti bullying campaigns, but kids and teenagers are still trying to kill themselves because they can’t see the point in living any more in a world of hate and pain. We need to teach kids, and everyone for that matter, that just because someone is different does NOT make it OK for you to laugh at them, to call them names, to mentally or physically torment them. We are all different in some way, and kids are all deeply insecure about themselves and their bodies as they grow up. Some manage to overcome it by making friends and grabbing life with both hands, sadly some think they can only hide it by picking on others who are weaker than them.
Well I have a message for every kid who’s ever been shoved down the stairs, or called ugly, or spat at. You are not weaker than them. You are the strong ones, you are the ones who will go on to do great things and look back and be so glad that you didn’t let them win, didn’t let them beat you down. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you will succeed as long as you push on and focus on your goals. Please don’t ever let them get to you, I believe in you and so do many, many more people.
Bullies only hold power over their victims because of two reasons. One is that the victims let them, but that doesn’t really help people on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour, we try our best not to let it show but we can’t turn off our feelings. The second reason is that other people know what is going on and don’t do anything. This is almost as bad as joining in, because by not speaking up for someone being bullied, you are saying that it is OK. Now I’m not expecting kids to go out and shout at six foot guys to stop picking on the little kid, because you might get turned on too. But speaking to a teacher or school counsellor or someone else who you think might be able to help the victim can improve their life a lot. And if you do have the courage to directly tell the bullies to stop it, then please do. If more people are showing them that it’s not alright to behave the way they are, then hopefully they will stop. Most bullies want acceptance, and think that picking on others will get them that. Really it won’t, but they will only realise that if others stand up and make them see what they’re doing is wrong.