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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs