From the 13 – 17 November, it’s Anti-Bullying Week. The official theme this year is ‘All different. All equal.’ For adults, it’s easy to see the relevance of this theme and how it applies to our daily lives; diversity is beautiful and all people should be equally valued. But is this still true for young people?
In 2017, it’s a fortunate few people who can say they’ve never had an experience with bullying. In fact, in a survey conducted by The Student Room, it was revealed that three quarters (76%) of students have experienced bullying, with a massive 26% of those saying they'd experienced suicidal thoughts as a result.
You might have been bullied. Maybe you feel regret over the times you acted like a bully yourself. Or like most people, perhaps you’ve witnessed bullying going on. Sometimes it’s subtle; being made to feel out of place or ‘less than’ your peers. Other times, it’s in-your-face violence. Regardless, the impact of bullying is immense, it’s tangible, it’s real, and it’s something that no one should have to contend with.
Ahead of anti-bullying week, we surveyed over 1400 young people to see how this theme plays out in their real lives. What we found was that 71% of students feel more comfortable 'blending in' with the crowd, rather than standing out. Pretending to like something that everyone else does was very common (66%), while almost half of students admitted to dumbing themselves down to fit in (47%).
When you’re at school, you're busy negotiating the tumultuous waters of social groups; trying to juggle study, friendships, family and work; and doing some big work on that big ‘who am I?’ question. So the concept of being ‘different’ isn’t necessarily one that’s on your mind. Overwhelmingly, young people feel that they’re actually more likely to be bullied if they are ‘different’. So how do you stand up and be who you are, in an environment where social pressures are telling you to do the exact opposite?
TSR talks bullying
Mhairi (aka BlinkyBill) and Hannah (aka She-Ra) answer questions from the TSR community about bullying, and offer their support.
When it comes to bullying, there are thousands of people out there who have felt the same way. Some of our TSR community members have taken the time to share their experiences of bullying...
It all started at the High School I attended between school years 7 and 11. I passed an exam to get a place there and it was 5 years of absolute misery. I found once labels are given in schools, they stick and the fact I was labelled a ‘victim’, stuck and I never escaped from it. I completely isolated myself. People didn’t stand up for me and I can’t say I blame them. They’d have risked being ostracised themselves. I left that sixth-form with terribly bad A Level’s because of the bullying but ironically, going through clearing was the kick up the butt I needed. I enrolled at evening college to improve my psychology grade enough to get onto a foundation year studying psychology. I actually want to say thank you to those who bullied me for giving me the resilience and instilling qualities in me that I’ve needed to get where I am now. Read more about Deyesy's story >>>
So essentially, I'm a very weird person. I was and still am very proud of that, because I see uniqueness as a positive attribute in anyone. Moving from Primary to Secondary school was quite a challenge for me. I was going from a school with 210 pupils on average to one with 1800.The most daunting part was, I was going alone. I have a condition called microtia which means that one of my ears doesn't work, and doesn't looked like a proper ear either. So there were some people in my year, who saw me, a loner; saw my weirdness, and my disability and they saw an opportunity. After five years of ongoing bullying, what made me sad was that they didn't noticed I'd grown up, and that they should grow up too. All a bully is is someone with low emotional intelligence. Don't let anyone else affect the way your brain works. They don't deserve that privilege. Read more about 04MR17's story >>>
I was bullied on and off throughout primary and secondary school, years seven to ten especially. For me the worst type was definitely emotional; verbal was bad but I mostly just discounted, I took what my friends said at face value though and it never occurred to me it could be classed as bullying. It's not all shouting and hitting! I ended up virtually mute with my self esteem gone. As I got older and once I left school I discovered what a release being anonymous online could be, but unfortunately other people also did and bullying on there was bordering on abuse. There really is no break online as many of you know. It's not all bad though. I found courage I didn't know I had to stand up to people, even if it took me years. I realised who and what was important to me and learnt not only who I really am, but to appreciate myself for it. My mental health is still far from perfect but I've done- and am doing, every day- things I wouldn't have believed possible even a few months ago. I have some sort of a life! If you're being bullied please tell someone and if at all possible, just get yourself out of there. Other things can be sorted out afterwards but you are most important. Things can get better, take me as an example. furryface12.
The world would be boring if everyone was the same… Can you imagine if there were no diversity in the world? What if we all loved the same type of person? Or not one human actually liked chocolate? The world needs uniqueness to continuing growing and becoming better.
People who bully are reflecting their own inner battles (not yours)… There’s that saying, ‘be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see’. No one’s life is as simple as it might look on the surface. We might not even realise we’re competing against some kind of unhappiness inside us. No one deserves to be bullied, and people who bully need help understanding the negative feelings that drive their bullying behaviour.
Different is good… Influential and successful people are appreciated because of their thoughts, actions and motivations. More and more, big companies are looking for people who are a bit ‘different’; who think outside the box, come up with interesting and creative solutions, show emotional intelligence and speak their mind.
Uniqueness is actually beautiful… The truth is, there is a special quality to people who carry their uniqueness with pride. It’s what on the inside that counts - when you’re positive and happy, it radiates out and is contagious to those around you. Others will see that and strive for the same feeling.
On The Student Room, we are passionate about creating a community where everyone feels welcome and supported. You can check out our community guidelines here. If you experience bullying, or see it happening to someone else, just hit the 'Report' button next to the post. This will flag it for our fully trained moderation team, who will be able to take the appropriate action.
If you're experiencing bullying and would like some help, you can also post in our Mental Health forum (note: you can post anonymously in this forum).