Teen suicide rates are rising, and cyberbullying is too. About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying.
Meet a young man who not only stood up to his bully but also won the fight!
It’s been almost 10 years since he was first bullied, but Quinton Williams remembers those angry and ugly words starting in the first grade.
“I felt like an outcast. I felt like I didn’t belong,” Quinton explains.
The bully or bullies used the anonymity of the internet to target Quinton.
“They say a lot of stuff that they won’t say in front of your face,” he explains.
Dr. Sameer Hinduja is a cyberbullying expert at Florida Atlantic University, and he knows how much words can hurt.
“They don’t as compared, for example, to a punch, or a kick, or a push or a shove, but still absolutely they can cut deeply,” he says.
That’s why parents should help teach their children resilience.
“Resilience is bouncing back from adversity,” Hinduja explains.
The stronger a child’s self-image is, the less vulnerable he or she is to bullying, regardless of where it comes from.
“Everything hinges on the messages we tell ourselves and the beliefs we internalize about the adversity we face,” Hinduja explains.
A national survey of 1,000 kids shows those who don’t have much resilience act out themselves when they’re bullied.
Those with a stronger self-image were able to report the bully or at least block them online.
“They didn’t really internalize the harm and it didn’t really markedly affect their ability to learn and feel safe in school,” Hinduja says.
Quinton entered a poetry contest, “Do the Write Thing Challenge,” to share how much it hurts to be bullied.
There were 28,000 entries, and Quinton’s won! He was flown to a national conference in Washington, D.C.
“You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but you do have to be a friend to everybody,” Quinton says.
That’s a message we can all take to heart.
Ironically, Quinton is now best friends with his former bully. He says people have to realize that bullies for the most part are insecure, and that’s why they do what they do. He suggests trying to see it from the other side and treating people the way you want to be treated.