News / Health

Teens Share Devastating Impact of Bullying

Faiza Elmasry
Bullying can take different shapes and forms such as social isolation, verbal assaults and physical harassment.

Elana Burack is a high school senior in North Carolina. Three years ago, she had a group of girls she spent most of her time with. They were close friends, or so she thought. 

“We'd eat together at lunch and go to parties and share secrets," Burack said. "One day I decided to sit with a different group of girls at lunch. I didn’t think this would be a problem.” 

But it was. 
Dozens of teens share their experiences in the book, Dozens of teens share their experiences in the book, "Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies and Bystanders."
x
Dozens of teens share their experiences in the book,
Dozens of teens share their experiences in the book, "Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies and Bystanders."


“I was sort of cornered by my friend group and told, ‘You’re not allowed to do that. You have to sit with us. You're not allowed to sit with other people,’" Burack said. "At that moment I sort of realized - are these girls really my friends? - and I sort of had to reflect on our whole friendship and thought of all the other times they had been possessive of me and controlling and had told me what to do.” 

Burack confronted the girls with her disappointment about their friendship.

“You’re supposed to support me, help me and encourage me," she said. "I don’t feel like you’re doing that, that I wasn’t sure that we could be friends anymore.” 

Burack is one of more than 80 teenagers who shared their experiences in a new book, Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies and Bystanders

“It’s extremely painful to hear how cruel people can be towards each other,” said Stephanie Meyer, co-creator of a monthly magazine written by and for teens, who helped edit the stories. “Very often a young person who is bullied becomes very depressed, or because they're depressed, bullying affects them even more. There are too many instances of teens who have committed suicide as a result.” 

But bullying, she says, is also a cry for attention. 

“Very often the bullies themselves have been victims," said Meyer. "They are trying to regain the power that they have lost in being bullied at home or by other older children when they were young. And so they regain a sense of power by being the actual bully.” 

With the growth of social media, Meyer says, cyber-bullying has become a serious problem. 

“One young woman who was at a party, the end of the summer...At one point, part of her bathing suit apparently was kind of revealing and a picture was taken," Meyer said. "It was posted on Facebook and she wasn’t even aware of it for weeks.” 

At first, 17-year-old Autumn Bornholdt was too embarrassed to tell her family.

“I was mortified. I couldn’t believe that these girls who I thought were my friends had not told me that this picture was online,” she said. "I was actually at the doctor’s office with my mom one day. One of my true friends texted me and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there is another post on your Facebook wall.’ Then I read it and just started to cry. My mom asked me why I was crying. I told her. She immediately started calling all of these other girls’ parents asking them to remove these nasty posts.”

Being bullied when she was in 7th grade is a painful experience that 18-year-old Sitav Nabi, now a college freshman, will never forget. She says there was one particular girl who had always picked on her. 

“As I was walking home, she was across the street. She was throwing rocks at me," Nabi said. "I had my headphones on and didn’t realize until she hit me several times. I went to my house and when my mother realized that, she went to the police and reported her. But when I went to school the next day, instead of feeling sorry for me and understand it was wrong, everyone else attacked me because they said I had purposely gotten her into trouble.” 

Passive and reluctant bystanders, she says, are just as guilty as bullies.

“If you are watching someone being bullied, being attacked, and you know it’s wrong, you have to stand up and make them stop because you’re traumatizing another human being,” Nabi said. 

Nabi and the other teens who shared their experiences about bullying hope by raising awareness about the problem they’re helping others realize they are not alone, so they can stand up for themselves and their friends, and put an end to bullying.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More