Bullying Must Stop Being Responded to with Silence

January 5, 2024

Amanda holds her head high, her shoulders wide open, and walks in long strides in front of her friends along the blue tiles of her high school hallway. They wear matching pink shirts and skinny jeans. Amanda’s hair is dyed platinum blond, and her brown eyes sparkle. She has straightened her hair pin-straight. Her lips shine with pink lip gloss, and her makeup glitters. While she presents to the world a purple smile, she forces her eyelids open from texting her friends about Jasmine, who wears baggy sweatpants and loose sweatshirts, whom every teenager in the high school has written off as the school outcast. 

Amanda remembers the night before, when she finally shut her phone off at 12:00 AM. She sat in her cozy bed with a flower bedspread, her salty tears soaking her white pillow and her shoulders locking themselves together. As the memory progresses, her energy depletes as the guilt overwhelms her. Her sparkly makeup had been wiped away from her eyes moments after she walked into her room, which is painted the color yellow. She sat on her bed and bent her back forwards, holding her stomach as she breathed in shallow breaths entering her tight chest. 

Amanda presses her hands against her hips now as she takes her seat in the middle of the boring, white lunch tables and unwraps her turkey and tomato sandwich. Her friend group of five girls, with their hair all straightened and in different shades, ranging from dark brown to light brown to light red, sit around Amanda, keeping her safe like an igloo, from the internal snow storm raging inside of her. 

Elaina chimes, “I don’t understand why Jasmine dresses like that. I can’t stand looking at her.” 

Vanessa replies, “We are the queens of this school.” 

Giovanna pipes, “Does anyone know who wrote last night to delete the comments on Instagram that Jasmine is the school outcast?”

Candice replies, “Uh, no, people are so annoying,” and then rolls her eyes. 

Amanda presses her palms against the white lunch table, her sparkly pink nails facing upwards towards the artificial lights, soaking in the fake conversations that lead to an existence of living in lies. Her throat tightens because she is the person who had written to delete the Instagram comments. She did it on her private Instagram account, Math_Creations, because when she is alone in her yellow room, she consumes herself in Algebra problems and contemplates how to solve calculus equations. She wrings her hands together as she reflects on how she walks drop dead gorgeous to only feel ugly inside; the shame eats her alive. 

Amanda wonders if her friends, Elaina, Vanessa, Candice, and Giovanna chit chat on social media all day about Jasmine to feel better about themselves. Maybe the dark light they reflect on social media is a reflection of how they feel about themselves and what they are going through. 

Because Amanda secretly locks her knees shut tight, and her desperate wails screech across her beautiful, big house for her little brother, Brian, who was tragically killed in a car accident when Amanda was eleven years old and her brother was only seven, Amanda takes her grief out on the world by being mean to Jasmine in public to protect herself from the pain of rejection, which could cause more grief and loss in her life. 

Because Elaina spent her childhood from ages six to nine being overweight and getting called “fat and ugly.” She is afraid that if she is not mean to Jasmine, she will be bullied again.

Because Vanessa’s brother has special needs, and she resents him for getting all of her parents’ attention, so she takes out her frustrations on Jasmine.

Because Candice is hiding the fact that she is in foster care and feels unloved and rejected by the world. Afraid to be unloved and rejected at school, she joins the popular clique that she secretly hates.

Because Giovanna’s parents are constantly working, so she sits in a luxurious, empty home alone and wants to make sure she is never left alone at school.

 

Jasmine crumples up her schoolwork in her bedroom as she stares at the social media post on Instagram that she is a “worthless piece of shit.” Hot tears pour down her tan skin from her blue eyes as she tells herself that she will always be unloved, despite her mom hugging her when she cries. She tells herself that her mom only hugs her because she is a burden. She has felt like a million pounds ever since her dad passed away from a brutal battle with leukemia when she was eight years old. But she never let her grief and sadness that flows deep and far into the depths of the earth make people feel ashamed of themselves. The mean words made her realize she is responsible for her dad’s cancer and is, therefore, the reason he passed away. She used to be an A student, but now her GPA is on the brink of collapsing. She has complained to the school over and over again about the bullying, but it is the same old story. The response reads in one line from the principle: “It is your fault because you act differently.” So, she presses her hands to her sides to force them from not flapping and presses her skin together to relieve the buildup of stress accumulated inside of her. 

 

Bullies need to be disciplined and helped from their wounds. Victims of bullying need the bullying to end and to receive emotional support. School districts responding in silence gives one answer: Continue bullying. This detrimental response needs to change. Instead, school districts should say: The bullying will end through discipline, and we are here to support everyone involved.

 

Rachael Weiser is a talented, passionate, and motivated writer. She is also a curious, insightful, caring, compassionate, observant, and creative person. Rachael is very eager and excited to work for a company as a writer after she graduates college!

 

 

 

Featured image by Feliphe Schiarolli.

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