#YEAR11PROBLEMS

Bullying’s devastating impact

It is with a heavy heart that I write this week’s #YEAR11PROBLEMS column as we focus on bullying. I chose to write about this in particular due to a tragedy caused by bullying in our community on Friday. A Year 10 student who was just 15 years old and who attended a local school committed suicide, and so I felt I had to do something, albeit small, to pay a tribute to her life and raise awareness of the pain she endured.

This column is not one exclusively for Year 11s – it covers Year Threes right up to Year 13s. Bullying can affect anyone, anywhere and, now, with all of the technology and social media we have, anywhere. It can completely take control of someone’s life in an all-consuming, suffocating way.

And that doesn’t just affect one person in one school, or two people in two schools – it affects 43% of young people in the UK. Bullying isn’t just a few nasty words or a couple of hard-hitting punches.

It doesn’t stop at that.

As a result of bullying, 29% of young people in the UK have self-harmed. Self-harming because of how their minds have been poisoned by people who pick them out as a target. This statistic is thoroughly disgusting and shocking; something that is an all too real situation for many, though.

Moreover, 55% of young people in the UK have have actually reported bullying, leaving 45% feeling as though they wouldn’t be taken seriously, the bullying would get worse or they were too embarrassed.

With all of the statistics I have provided, it’s easy to see how bullying can devastate lives – and plenty of them. But don’t let the statistics just be that. Don’t let a number be just a number. These statistics and figures are all real people, people whose lives have been intoxicated with the poison that is bullying. People who deserve better. And put quite simply: someone you know and love could fall into a statistic. They could be one of the 45% who hide in silence, too afraid to speak out.

So, it’s our job now as a collective society, as a community, as friends, family, strangers and acquaintances to show bullying the red card. It’s also our job to encourage talk about bullying and to ensure that those who do hide what’s happening know they can come forward because somebody will listen.

If we don’t do that, there will be more tragedies like the one that has devastated our community. And we don’t want, or need, any of it.

My message to anyone reading, young or old, teacher or student, friend or stranger is that you have a duty. If you can do something to help someone who’s being bullied, whether it’s as a shoulder to cry on, a voice telling someone to stop or an anonymous source who informed a school, do it.

We only have one life and in it we meet extraordinary people with extraordinary stories. But some people are taken too young to create those stories because of bullying. Don’t let that happen.

See you next week.

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If you’re being bullied, please speak out to a friend, a family member or a teacher at your school. It is always better to let it out than bottle it up.

However, if you feel you can’t talk to any of the people above, you can contact the helpline below:

ChildLine – 0800 1111

If you’re feeling really down at the moment and are thinking about ending your life, you can also contact the Samaritans helpline (free to call) below:

Samaritans – 116 123

All statistics from ditchthelabel.org