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Being Bullied? Here’s how to deal… Guest Blogger Sameer Hinduja

It’s messed up. But it happens daily. And maybe you think to yourself,
I can’t let this bother me. I gotta shrug it off. Haters gonna hate.
Their opinion of me shouldn’t matter.” But honestly, what is our reality?
Our reality is that is *does* matter. It just does.

Even though I’m a guy, I’ve been asked to write a guest blog about
girls and some of the nonsense they have to deal with – both offline and
online. I appreciate this opportunity; I speak to tens of thousands
of youth in schools each year about some of the social and relational
stuff that affects them. We call it different names, and each of these
words means different things to different people. I don’t love the
word “bullying” because youth don’t really use this word as often as
adults. But it could be that. It could be really obvious, like someone
coming up to you at school and knocking your books to the floor, or
shoving you into a locker, or just geting in your face and screaming at
you…but we find that girls have to deal with stuff that is a lot more

For example, we see and have to deal with a lot of drama…just
ridiculous things that come up – whether it is gossip, or sexual rumors,
or simple sarcastic comments that actually hurt.

Like talking behind your back. Or not including you on a Facebook Event invite.
Or excluding you in other ways and just making you feel not welcome, and like you
don’t belong. Unfortunately, people say things without thinking, and
spread stuff that isn’t true, or that only paints a partial or one-sided
picture of a situation. And people can text or post comments or pictures
online about you that shouldn’t be posted. People can just hate on you
for no reason…except that maybe they are struggling with their own
problems, or dealing with their own insecurities and issues and they
simply don’t know how else to cope, except to be a jerk to someone else.

It’s messed up. But it happens daily. And maybe you think to yourself,
I can’t let this bother me. I gotta shrug it off. Haters gonna hate.
Their opinion of me shouldn’t matter. But honestly, what is our reality?
Our reality is that is *does* matter. It just does.

We want people to like us. We do. We want to feel like we belong, we
want to feel like others want to get to know us, want to hang out with
us, want to date us. I mean, growing up we are already so insanely aware
of our own flaws and imperfections – whether it is the shape of our nose,
or our skin complexion, or our body type, or our hair, or our family
situation, or what we can afford. And we are super hard on ourselves
as it is – and have such a difficult time finding anything valuable and
beautiful about who we are, and who we are becoming. The last thing we
need is for others to point out our flaws, and broadcast them to the rest
of the student body. The last thing we need is others possibly thinking
the worst of us, because we already have such a hard time believing the
best about ourselves. It’s just rough. I think you can understand,
because I feel like we’ve all been there at some point or another.

And as much as we want to push it into a corner of our mind so it doesn’t
affect us as much, the hurt sometimes seems to takes over our world.
I know sometimes I felt like I just never wanted to go back to school
again…never show my face again…never get back online again.

The thing is, we have to try – over the course of years and years – to
get to a point where our identity isn’t completely wrapped up in how
others perceive us. And this is so hard. Most adults haven’t gotten to
a good place with this yet. But we know our own feelings and emotions
and opinions – we can’t fully trust them. They change all the time.
That’s how it is for everybody. And if our identity – who we know we are
– is constantly dependent on what other people are saying about us, it
is going to be a really rough life. You won’t ever fully “own” who you
are. You’ll be at the mercy of catering to the thoughts and feelings and
opinions and pressures and demands of others. And this an awful way to

You have got to get your identity from something stable. Something
unchanging. Something that can tell you who you are, where you can
believe it and be forever sure about it. And then, when you can get that
into your heart, fully and truly, you can live your life out of it. And
then life honestly becomes so much better.

And when you see the hate or drama happening to others, when you see
girls being mean to each other in the lunchroom, or hallway, or on
Instagram, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, or via Group MMS…how
do you deal with it? I know we are hesitant to do anything, and say to
ourselves we should mind our own business and stay out of it. Or we
hold back because we don’t want to be the next person harassed. Or we
don’t want to be known as a rat or narc. And sometimes it’s hard to know
exactly what to do. The thing is, we know deep down what is wrong and
what is right. We know we wouldn’t want to be treated a certain way, but
sometimes we let it happen to those around us. And we shrug it off. But
you hear the stories about those who are targeted and mistreated. Some
of them feel there is no other escape other than taking their own life.
Others wrestle with serious psychological and emotional problems because
of it. Still others try to cope by harming others, or harming themselves
(cutting). It’s kind of a big deal. I think you get that.

Bottom line, we have to step up.

I know we’re nervous, or scared, or hesitant for a million reasons.
But we have to push through that. So many stay silent and just let the hate continue.
But if you want people to be drawn to you, if you want to be popular for the right reasons, do
something that sets you apart. Don’t stay silent. Intervene at that
moment, despite your hesitation. Or go talk to someone who can help
(like an adult you trust) afterward. If it’s happening online, formally
report it as “abuse” to the site or social network, and help the person
to use the privacy settings or blocks or filters to control who is able
to message them or post to their profiles.

Most of the time, teens who are targeted feel paralyzed, and feel like
they don’t have a voice. You can be that voice. I know when I was being
mistreated growing up, I would have *loved* for someone to step up for
me. And if you’ve had to deal with drama, or bullying, or threats,
or anything like that, I’m sure it would have made things easier for
you if someone would have done something. Even as little as being an
encouragement to you and showing love to you. Even that matters…the
smallest things can make a huge difference. And intervening on someone’s
behalf shows that you truly care for them. We all need that sometimes –
probably more than sometimes. This can be invaluable in helping overcome
the pain that was caused.

The first time you step up will be the hardest. Kind of like anything
we try to tackle in life. Anything worth doing is going to be difficult.

You know how it is. But I hope you take that chance to do the right
thing. And start to build a habit of it. And in time, people will
take notice. And you’ll have set an example, and you’ll have held to a
standard. And in time, people will be drawn to you because you’re not
like everyone else. This is how people differentiate themselves from
everyone else, from the masses. And have amazing lives – lives that rise
above all of the stuff that wants to hold us down.

Sameer Hinduja is the Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center ( and Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University ( and an old friend of The Lovely Project!

His research has been featured on numerous local, state, national, and international media programs, including: CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” BBC, and The New York Times. He has also been interviewed and cited by hundreds of online and print media outlets. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University (focus area: cybercrime) and his B.S. in Criminal Justice (minor in legal studies) from the University of Central Florida Honors College. At FAU, he has won both Researcher of the Year and Teacher of the Year, the two highest honors across the entire university.