Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teenagers or LGBT are at a higher risk to get bullied compared to straight teenagers — be it in their school, community, or the internet. Statistics show that LGBT youth experiences more violence like bullying, humiliation, harassment, and physical assaults in their lifetime. As a result of this, it drives them into such unfortunate incidents like drugs and the like, and can fall into different types of addiction, food, drugs, and more.
What should be the appropriate action whenever teenagers are being bullied? How can parents support their children in this manner? Fortunately, there are places that offer counseling and behavioral therapy, provide help with addiction, and other related issues. This indeed will be a great help to parents going through this problem with their children.
Let’s discuss the answers to these questions by reviewing different literature pertaining to the issue.
Forms of Bullying
First, let us define the term bullying and know about its different forms. “By definition, bullying behavior implies an imbalance of power. The bully perceives that they are better, stronger, more socially adept, and higher on the social ladder.” That is according to Paul Schwartzman, LMHC, MS, DAPA.
Teenagers like to joke around with each other especially when maintaining a friendly and light conversation. But, there is a significant difference when other teenagers use foul jokes like humiliating the person, calling them names, or highlighting their physical defects. “Being bullied is hurtful and humiliating. It’s not an accident or joke—it’s a repetitive action that happens to a designated person or group over a period of time.” Debbie Pincus MS LMHC explains. In the case of LGBT youths, name calling or labeling are common derogatory remarks made to undermine the person. These remarks have the goal of making him or her uncomfortable about his or her sexuality and emphasizing that they are not accepted by the group. Teasing and humiliation can produce emotional trauma on the part of the LGBT youth, thereby making this behavior a verbal type of bullying.
Another type of bullying is the physical form wherein people can get hurt because of physical assaults. This can be demonstrated through shoving and pushing the person around, touching them inappropriately, or even to the extent of getting physical injuries brought about by mauling.
Cyber-bullying is the newest form of bullying behavior that involves the use of internet, social media networks, and can be transmitted via mobile, smart phones and computers. The effect of the bullying can be very serious to the victim since it is not only confined to one location. It can turn into a viral buzz due to the worldwide web connection.
Effects of Bullying
Whatever the form of bullying the teenager gets, the effects are all traumatic and can even cause death by suicide. For those who experience verbal and cyber-bullying, there will be a show of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and emotional abuse. For physical bullying, bodily harm and injuries like mild forms of abrasion or contusion, to severe ones like fractures or inflicting wounds, can naturally happen. “The effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological. Research now shows that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly victimized, and this could increase the chance that they suffer from mental illness.” Aaron Norton, LMHC, LMFT emphasizes.
Chronic bullying can cause serious psychological trauma. The victim will no longer see themselves as valuable. With aggravated humiliation, they would resort to killing themselves to end the cycle of abuse.
What to do?
Let someone know. The first thing to do whenever you experience any form of bullying is to talk to someone – your family, school authorities, or a trusted friend. This will give them the idea that you are being bullied. They can investigate instantly and perform necessary actions to put bullying to a halt. The earlier it is reported, the earlier it can be stopped.
Keep evidence. If you are receiving text messages, emails, or letters as a form of bullying, keep them and present them as evidence in the future. This will help in the investigation of your bullying incident which can then lead to the arrest of the person involved.
Be passive. What is meant by this is that the victim should not engage with the bully or entertain the bullying. No matter how difficult the situation is, never allow yourself to fight back or exchange words with that person or those people. Most of the time, the bully is attempted or driven to do more harm than good. Fighting back as a way to make them stop will not be effective. By being passive, it does not mean that you allow this thing to happen to you. First of all, you can protect yourself from further harm or injury. You can let the authorities take care of the situation. The people involved in the bullying will answer for it. That is why it is important to report the situation immediately.
Don’t give up
There are certain laws and agencies that can help individuals who are being bullied. Bullying is now considered a crime. Once caught and proven, the people involved are subject to significant penalties. Don’t lose hope and be frustrated about your situation. You are not alone in this fight.