Bullying Into Loneliness

Forced Isolation Is The Biggest Bullying Epidemic of The Past Decade

Forced isolation is very real and very prevalent.

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We've all seen those cheesy anti-bullying campaigns where the big kid knocks the books out of the hands of a smaller kid and laughs just before the hero comes in and lends a helping hand. I cannot tell you how many anti-bullying assemblies I've attended in the past ten years alone, and although the message they spread is good, their data is all wrong.

The stereotype of what a bully is remains the standard for many anti-bullying groups across America, which is where I believe they lose their audience's attention. Although I'm sure there are a few bullies left whose go-to move is something physical, the biggest and baddest bullies are the ones who simply shut their victims out.

I've seen this happen dozens of times growing up, but I never realized what an impact this form of bullying actually had until my last two years of high school. Basically, here's what happens: a group of kids decides that a certain person is to be given a label, which then dictates that person's personality. It happens without many people noticing, and then all of a sudden that kid who you heard is a huge weirdo tries to sit with you at lunch, and you suddenly think twice about letting him.

Believe it or not, most bystanders fall into this trap. You may know nothing about the victim, but you've heard some weird stories that sound pretty true about them, and now you're not sure you want to be friends with them. You'll watch them eat lunch alone and be left out during group projects, but you just don't want to take the chances on those rumors being true.

The bullies in these situations are always very cunning. They target the kids who you know come from low-income families, the kids who wear the same sweatshirt a few times in one week, or the kids who maybe aren't the smartest. The victims know what's happening, but it's hard for administrators to tell if these kids are being bullied or not because what's happening doesn't look like skits in the assemblies.

So, here's my call to action for administrators and anti-bullying groups alike; forced isolation is real, and it's not going anywhere without your help.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/alone-black-and-white-blur-child-568024/

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade.

I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass, and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school, and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone, it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach:

Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off," and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake, I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself, not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, but you also turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It's about the players.

You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won't have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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To The Overwhelmed, Undecided High School Senior, It's Going To Be OK

Even if it feels like nothing will work out, it will somehow.

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Let me preface this with a bit of my background to show why this is an important topic for me.

In April of my senior year, I had about five colleges to choose from. I also had a full scholarship from the Navy to do ROTC at the University of Washington. In the first week of April, I was offered an official visit to Brown University to tour the campus and meet students, which I did at the end of April. It felt like I had a plethora of options available, and I was trying to choose while also preparing for AP tests, finals, graduation, and working a job.

By May 1, I was suddenly medically disqualified by the Navy (therefore losing the scholarship), the offer acceptance window at nearly every other school closed, and I ended up accepting an offer at the University of Alabama, nearly 2,000 miles from home. For those few days at the beginning of May, I had never felt so lost and confused. I felt like I probably had a concrete plan at the University of Washington, and had even committed there, but that fell away in a blink of an eye.

I felt overwhelmed, unsure, and undecided.

As this year's seniors are wrapping up their final year of high school, preparing to commit to a college or go into the workforce, I'm sure many are feeling the same way. You're only 18, yet you're being asked to make a 4 (or more) year commitment that will likely dictate how much of your life unfolds. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and perfectionism, this reality weighed down on me like an anvil. In all honesty, though, I see exactly why everything happened the way it did.

After a year of being so far away from home, I've learned a tremendous amount about myself, others, and what it's like to live in a completely different part of the country. I've learned lessons in patience, self-care, independence, and other attributes that I may not have learned if I had been closer to home. So, to high school seniors that may be feeling the same way:

It will be OK.

Yes, offers aren't final, life happens, and you very well may end up somewhere you never thought you would. Or, you may end up exactly where you dreamed. Either way, you will be given tremendous opportunities to grow as a person, find what you're passionate about, and hopefully, make some close friends along the way. As a Christian, I believe that God can use you literally anywhere, and I see how he has used me and taught me lessons at the University of Alabama.

So, cherish this last month of high school. Enjoy time with your friends, finish up necessary schoolwork, and have a blast at prom. Worrying about your future won't help it or change it. All you can do is your best, and if you do that, you surely will end up exactly where you need to be.

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