A special editorial submitted to Galileo Press from an anonymous student.
It all began in a summer program called “Aim High”: a program that prepares middle school students for “academic and enrichment opportunities… for the transition to high school and beyond”. From my perspective, it was just another fancy way of saying school. From June to July, my parents forced me to attend Aim High; to put it simply, they wanted their child to think about the future.
The first day was as ordinary as it could get; all the students were afraid to converse with others, but then were forced to introduce themselves in small groups. It was not long until I met a few students that were friendly and kind enough to introduce me to their other friends. I was happy.
However, after two weeks of laughter and happiness with this group I considered friends, I slowly realized they were actually bullies. It started with my appearance. They began to make judgemental comments about how I looked and presented myself. It started to become routine, day after day of them judging and humiliating me. These steady stream of hateful comments came from them both online and in person.
These comments opened my eyes to how powerful words can be, especially when they were targeted at me. What could I do against them? There was one of me and a multitude of them. As a result of the chaos, I gradually began to fall into depression: I stopped eating, talking and even began to contemplate suicide as an escape from the hell I was experiencing; I spent countless hours in bed just thinking about how much my life sucked compared to other people.
I did not inform anyone of what was happening because I thought I was going to be a burden to the staff. Furthermore, I had already been broken down so much so that I lost any hope in anyone being able to help me. What could I do against them? I did my best to avoid them, but they were everywhere in the school. That one month of Aim High felt more like a year of torture, and all I did was wait until it ended.
My personal experience is just one of many. There are many other people that have, and still are, experiencing cyberbullying. According to the Harford County Examiner, “around half of teens have been victims of cyberbullying” and about 10 to 20 percent of those young people experience it regularly in 2009. Furthermore, it is no surprise that cell phones are the medium for cyberbullying. People typically experience cyberbullying through large social media corporations such as Facebook: In 2011 about one million people were cyber bullied through Facebook alone. A survey conducted by KnowledgePanel in 2009 showed that people that were bullied twice were 3 times as likely to drop out of school, and 8 percent of those that were cyber bullied considered suicide.2
Reflecting back on my experiences, I feel like I could have handled things differently. I would have told my parents. During my experience, I thought that my parents would not understand and that it would put me in the spotlight in my program: I didn’t want to deal with any of that during the time. I wanted to get through the program and move on with my life. However, telling my parent would have made the experience more enjoyable. Although everyone in the school might see me differently, bad or good, by not confronting my fears of telling others about my problem, I let those bullies get away free in doing whatever they wanted too. I regret not reaching out to get help from my parents or anyone; and by not doing so, I feel as if I let those bullies accomplish their goal and get away without any trouble.