Dear Fellow Hannah Bakers,
A lot of high school students were or are bullied: more than one out of every five students experience bullying. And sometimes, bullying can cause depression and other dark thoughts and habits. With the use of technology, cyberbullying has become even more of a threat with about 43 percent of students having been cyberbullied at one point. If you are a victim of bullying or are a fellow Hannah Baker, I am so, so sorry. It's corny to say, but you are not alone.
For most of my education, I was bullied. From third grade to senior year, I dreaded going to school because I would always inevitably hear something about me or have something told to my face. I've had stuff thrown at me. I've been tripped. I've had my name scribbled on the bathroom stalls. Senior year of high school, I had to switch out of honors physics (the only physics offered that semester) to a lower-level science because my classmates were talking about me while I was sitting directly in front of them. I spent a majority of my senior year in my guidance counselors' office because I was afraid to be around kids my own age. I missed a lot of school, too, because I didn't want to be around the people who made me hate education. I wanted to be home schooled. I was hurting myself. I wanted to kill myself.
But I didn't. I didn't tell my guidance counselor the names of the students who were bullying me. When my teachers ended up hearing the rumors and they questioned me, I asked them to not do anything. I was scared of their retaliation. So, I let it happen. Unlike Hannah Baker, I didn't make tapes or tell my classmates that what they were doing was affecting me horribly. Instead, I actually talked to my guidance counselor and my closest friends about how I was feeling. I made it out alive.
Not all who are bullied do make it out alive, though. Yes, Hannah Baker is a prime example in media, but in real life, those who are bullied are 7 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide. To put it in perspective, I can think of a dozen people I went to high school with who were bullied in some way or another; two of them attempted suicide.
Unfortunately, there is not a way to prevent bullying. The only thing we can do is speak up when it happens and educate students on the effects of bullying. This can be done with presentations, assemblies, or TV shows like "13 Reason Why." We can't let bullies win any longer, so please, educate yourselves on the effects of bullying. And if you're a fellow Hannah Baker, please reach out. If you're being bullied, please talk to someone. Don't let the bullies win any longer.