How to Tell Your Parents Your Being Bullied

Most teens don’imagest want to tell, worry or burden their parents when they are bullied, so they keep it inside. 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 situation, doesn’t mean you should have to. I know it may seem scary, but you have to tell an adult. If not a parent, then maybe a teacher you trust. 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 in the car with them, eating dinner, or taking a long walk. 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 and it’s important.” I guarantee your parents will pay close 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, don’t avoid the issue for too long. This can lead to you minimizing the severity of the situation and adapting to the poor treatment. Some teens build a defense mechanism around the issue to avoid it. They pretend that it isn’t actually happening. Does pretending really help? No. The bully will continue. Remember, avoiding any situation doesn’t help. Stand up for yourself when dealing with a bully.  Protect yourself; demand that the bullying stop. Say something early on. Don’t “accept” it. That’s not a healthy way to cope!

Now if your friend is the one being bullied, what can you do? Well, a lot of things. You can tell your friend that you are there for him or her. If the bully isn’t violent, you can confront the bully together. Show the bully you aren’t taking it anymore. Or, maybe if your friend is just too scared by the bully, you can tell a teacher on his or her behalf. Some teens just don’t know what to do. Be a good friend and do something.

Bottom line— Tell a parent or tell a teacher, but don’t let it continue.

Girl Talk: Who Wants to RAISE Their Self-Esteem?

Interview with Dr. Carol Langlois by “Out of Ink”

In her new book “Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image” Dr Carol Langlois seeks to provide teenage girls with the tools they need to RAISE their self-esteem. Here we chat with Dr Carol, teen self-esteem expert to find out more about her work and the importance of healthy self-esteem development in teenage girls.

Self-esteem issues can corrode many aspects of our lives. Eating disorders, lack of direction, hopelessness, depression, binge drinking and suicide are some examples that have a high association with low self-esteem.  In Australia, suicide amongst teenagers and young adults is one of the leading causes of death, second only to motor vehicle accidents.

Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image” is a compilation of interviews with teens girls – their stories, their challenges, their choices and their journey towards self-discovery and empowerment. Throughout each interview, Carol helps the reader to breakdown the issues discussed, offering points of reflection and an effective and practical guide designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem.

What initially drew you towards researching and working with teenage girls and their self-esteem issues?

I’m a trained therapist, academic researcher, educational consultant and writer. My primary area of interest is in female self-esteem development among teens.  During my training, I counselled hundreds of clients in one-on-one sessions as well as in group settings, mostly working with 18/19 year old freshman. They tended to have one of 4 issues when coming to speak with me – identity development challenges, an eating disorder, binge drinking issues, and/or poor choices/lack of direction. 

Some teens go to college fearful of change. Their identity in high school may have been strongly defined by their friends, sports teams or some sort of label (like the cool girls, or the popular girls) so when they get to college they don’t know “who they are or who they want to be.” 

College is the perfect time for exploration and discovery; however, some girls are too fearful to even explore. Afraid to make a mistake. That’s where I see a lot of the eating disorders and binge drinking coming to play. They don’t know where to begin. They are frozen; lost. It’s frightening. This is very different  from a girl, who is comfortable enough with herself and her self-esteem to try figure out who she wants to be in college…to explore. To try new things. To succeed…to fail..to grow.   

For more from this interview click here.

How to be a Good Friend, to Someone Being Bullied.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post called “6 reasons why bystandars choose not to intervene to stop bullying.” It was a good article explaining to parents why kids don’t step in. Why they don’t “do the right thing.”   Building off that article, I thought I’d give some additional perspective on the issue and provide information on ways to help them “do the right thing”, to stand up for themselves and others.

1) Research shows that not just kids, but adults too can stand by and watch when something happens to another person. Why? They believe that someone else watching the situation will clearly step in.  It’s a common response. Therefor, what ends up happening is that no one steps in. If you find yourself in a situation of watching someone else being bullied, stand up for them.  Don’t wait for a teacher to show up or someone else to say something. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. End it fast. If your friend is consistently bullied by the same person, create a plan with him/her on how to handle it together the next time it occurs.

2) Fear of retaliation is very real. Kids are not immune to this and neither are adults. If the bully isn’t violent, again stand strong and he/she will see that confidence in you and back down. But if you show nervousness or anxiety, they may decide to bully you too.  You decide. If the bully is violent, you have to tell a teacher or get an adult involved. If you aren’t comfortable telling a teacher face-to-face then leave a note for them.

3) Sometimes your own friend is the bully and it’s tough to address.  Just because someone is your friend, doesn’t mean he/she isn’t someone else’s bully. Remember that. Think about where you ethically draw the line when your friend is bullying someone else. If your friend crosses that bully line, you have a responsibility to say something.  Have a conversation with them privately in an environment where you’re both comfortable so you can help them see or understand how their actions are hurting others. If they’re going to listen to anyone, they will listen to a friend.  Practice what you’d say to your friend before approaching them.

4) Your circle of friends is very important to you when you’re a teen. Sometimes those outside your circle can almost be seen as invisible/as strangers. So when someone outside your clique is being bullied, maybe you see the situation as “none of your business.”  This is an easy defense mechanism to stop you from intervening. We need to teach teens that their school or neighborhood is a whole community and it’s important to look out for your friends as well as those you don’t know in your community.

5) Standing out is the last thing you want to do as a teen. Puberty and hormones take over and you’re always concerned that people are staring at the way you look, the way you dress, etc. Why would anyone willingly have all eyes on them especially in an uncomfortable situation like confronting a bully? It’s completely irrational for a teen brain. In addition, some teens fear that if they are the one to stand up and say something, the other teens will  “possibly” side with the bully. It may seem ridiculous as an adult, but not to a teen. Chances are, if you stand up against the bully, others will stand with you too. (Maybe even thank you.)  Have a few close friends by your side if that helps.

6) Lastly and maybe most importantly, kids aren’t equipped with the right language on how to intervene. They don’t know what to say, how to say it or when to say it.  So, why would they ever intervene?  Schools and parents need to teach anti-bullying language to kids so that bystanders won’t be bystanders any longer. They’d be equipped with the proper language to use if ever in a bullying situation. Practice this language with them over and over. So, instead of standing there in shock , watching the bullying happen and hoping that they aren’t the next victim, they are equipped to step in.

Remember that bullying has many new forms these days. It’s not restricted to the old image of a bully in the cafeteria or on the bus that calls you names to your face.  Now it can be via Facebook, texts, twitter as well as many other forms of social media.  Bullies can hide their identity now, be more sneaky, share damaging photos or bully via indirect ways.  We need to arm our kids with defenses against these forms of attacks as well.