Lasting impact

Bullying behaviors leave permanent scars on victims

Story by Liberty Maldonado Cowan, Staff Writer

Too fat. Too thin. Too tall. Too short. Too light. Too dark.

Not enough money. Not the right clothes. Not straight.

You just don’t fit in. And the bullies always notice.

Kids are bullied for things they cannot change like their skin color, weight, sexuality or the clothes they wear. The list does not stop. In 2019, about 22% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied during the school year, which often leaves permanent damage on the victims. 

“I think being bullied at such a young age has played a huge role in the way I act today,” sophomore Emma Carter* said. “I was a very outgoing person, but when people would comment on my physical appearance or one of my insecurities, it just made me a little more timid and scared to meet new people.”

There are multiple forms of bullying: physical violence, threatening, spreading false rumors, name calling and bullying that happens across social media platforms. Bullying has many different long-term effects such as self esteem issues, wide ranges of emotions, self-blame, and can affect the way a person feels about themself long term.

“[Being bullied] made me feel worthless and not good enough,” junior Sydney Long* said. “Nothing I did was good enough, and I wouldn’t ever be able to prove myself.” 

Experiencing bullying in school or anywhere at a young age can cause resentment to attend social gatherings and might affect a child’s feelings toward education. This could lead to difficulties with doing “normal” activities.

“It made me quiet and hate everything social,” sophomore Thomas Smith* said. “I’m still pretty quiet and avoid social interactions.” 

Because of being bullied, victims often learn to treat people with kindness and be more helpful to others.   

“I think bullying has made me aware of the fact that other people have insecurities,” Carter said. “I try to compliment and lift people up as much as possible.” 

In middle school, sophomore Patty Davis* found herself the target of the popular crowd’s taunting for reasons she never really understood. However, it helped her figure out the type of person she never wanted to be.

“While undergoing all the bullying and foul treatment from others, my true character shined through, and I learned that you will never gain anything good by bringing people down,” Davis said. “I feel like [being bullied] has made me a mentally tougher and more resilient individual. My compassion for others has increased, even for the people who are doing the bullying because it’s evidence that they are hurting too.”  

While victims of bullying still bear the scars of their torment, some choose to focus on what they learned from it.

“Being bullied caused me to have so much sympathy for people because we never know what others are going through that they aren’t talking about,” freshman Michael Justin* said. “Because I was bullied, I don’t talk about people based on their appearance. Most of the time people are already self conscious, so why make it worse by adding your unnecessary input?” 

*Names have been changed