How to Tell Your Parents When you are Being Bullied

Let me start off by saying…….you should tell your parents every time and any time you feel you are the victim of bullying. Just because you can “handle” the bullying, doesn’t mean you should.  I know it may seem scary, but tell an adult. If not a parent, then a teacher or adult relative you trust.

So….How do you bring it up? Sometimes that can be the hardest part. Find a time when you have your parents’ full attention. Maybe this is while you are driving alone in the car with them, eating dinner, or taking a long walk with your mom or dad. Think about what to say beforehand so when you tell them you won’t get too nervous and forget everything. If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation, say, “I need to tell you something that I’m nervous about.” I guarantee your parents will pay complete attention. It’s OK if you get upset while telling them. If you want to tell a teacher instead, that’s OK too. Maybe after school when the rest of your class is gone you can ask to speak with them. Again, practice what you want to say.  If it helps to bring a friend along for support, that’s OK too.

I can’t stress this enough. Not wanting to worry or burden your parents by keeping something like this inside doesn’t make you stronger or resilient. Being resilient isn’t about avoiding an issue and adapting to it. Resilience is standing up for yourself, protecting yourself, and demanding that the bullying stops. Don’t built a defense mechanism around the issue to avoid it or pretend that it isn’t actually happening.  Say something early on. If you wait, you may just get used to the bullying and “accept” it. That’s not a healthy way to cope!

 

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Who Wants to Talk About Snapchat?

Okay… Who wants to talk about Snapchat? I’ve received quite a few questions about Snapshot lately, so I thought I’d take the time and address them. So what is Snapchat?

Snapchat  is an app that allows you to “snap” a photo and posted it to text. The selling point of the app is that the photo disappears after 10 seconds. It’s a visual chat– a kind of “freeze framing” a specific moment in time. It’s all about spontaneity and no impulse control. Just what kids need more of–right? 

The app creates the illusion that the information you send will be secretive and then disappear forever. This is certainly attractive to young kids, who are tempted to send things that are a bit risqué. They feel a false sense of safety in doing so, since their content will magically disappear. Right? Wrong….like everything else on the internet, it doesn’t disappear. The receiver of the information can easily take a screenshot of what was sent, hold on to it and then share with whomever they choose.  This app is also becoming a big tool for cyber bullies because they can send and hide behind a mean message/photo and then “poof” it’s gone. Leaving the receiver in a state of shock. Numb and upset by what they just saw. It’s damaging, hurtful and can negatively affect ones’ self-esteem and sense of self -worth.

As an adult, I can somewhat see the value in a tool like this. However, I don’t think I’ve ever texted something that needed to self destruct in 10 seconds like I’m a character from Mission Impossible.  However, I CAN see this as a smart marketing tool for businesses sharing information about last minute sales with values customers, pop-up events or secret coupon codes.  It can certainly build brand loyalty. But, let’s be honest; teens are the ones mostly using this tool.

Personally, I think there should be stricter requirements attached to opening Snapchat accounts. The only requirement is that you must be 13 years old.  That’s still too young. I think it’s more dangerous than kids are realizing. Encouraging impulsive actions that can have a lifetime of repercussions sounds like a recipe for disaster. As a parent, you need to check out the app and decide for yourself. Here is a good video about Snapchat to help you get started.

 

Slut-Shaming: Another Form of Bullying

Verbal assaults can come at all levels of adolescence, especially for young girls. There is one element of attack that I find particular heinous and it relates to sexuality. It’s bad enough when a teen girl that is not sexually active is considered a prude or uptight, but a girl considered sexually active is labeled as easy, cheap, and, yes, slutty. You just can’t win!  Teens are brutal when it comes to talk of alleged promiscuity. The verbal and non-verbal attacks upon those accused of such an act is called slut-shaming.  Both boys and girls are guilty of slut-shaming young teen girls, and although they may feel their knowledge of the facts justifies their hurtful verbal attacks, they do not understand the damage that is being done to the victim.

Slut-shaming does not just target girls with reputations for being promiscuous or sexually active. Many young teens experience this type of harassment just by the clothes they wear or the “vibe” they give off to others.  If girls are offended by another girl’s behavior, jealous or threatened, the result could be slut-shaming. Non-verbal messages of disapproval, disgust, or shame can be relayed through body language and mistreatment such as eye rolling, laughing, exclusion and comments via social media.  Regardless of how a girl gets that title, it can be very serious with permanent consequences.  Slut-shaming is a form of bullying and this type of verbal assault can leave a girl with low self-esteem feeling guilty, dirty, and possibly cheap. Many girls that are victims of slut-shaming don’t know where to go for help to escape the hurtful labels and attacks. Sadly, statistics show that teenagers are resorting to taking their own life to escape the abuse and label. This has to end.

Once again, like many things in life, there is a double standard for men and women, that is clearly seen.  There is a set of sexual rules that apply to men and boys and another set of rules that apply to women and girls. The rules for boys promote promiscuity and sexual activity with multiple partners. In fact, boys learn early on that is may be a way to gain approval, and validation by their peers. However, girls are expected to abide by another set of rules that discourages expressing themselves through experiences, clothes, and attitudes about sex. When those rules are broken, the affects can be brutal. Although slut-shaming is done by both teen girls and boys, it typically lies in the hands of girls.  We cannot excuse the role that boys play; however, girls seem to take part in this behavior far more often.  Why do we condemn instead of protect and uplift our fellow woman?

Combating against slut-shaming begins with young girls and women. No more passing unfair judgment on one another because of the way someone dresses, carries them self, or based on their “assumed” sexual behaviors. Draw the line.

Bottom line, everyone is entitled to own their own sexuality. Girls and women should be comfortable with their sex life, their decisions, and their bodies. People have no right to label or pass judgment on anyone for their lifestyle choices. These labels can have serious consequences. A person’s sexual lifestyle is their choice, and their choice should not result in bullying of any type. I’m not saying that I condone teen sex, I’m saying that labeling a girl’s sexuality in any way is damaging and unacceptable.