‘Don’t suffer in silence’

BULLYING, be it online or offline, can affect the victims to a great extent. Find out how to rein in the bullies from these students who had suffered the insidious effects and come forward to share their experiences, albeit anonymously.

I am really into motion graphic design, so I joined a group online where people come together to share ideas. One day, I asked for opinions on my design, which took me around six months to complete. The response that came back was unnerving. I was bashed by strangers who dropped comments like ‘Go kill yourself’, ‘Why are you wasting your time on this?’, and ‘It’s very bad, just quit.’ I was so shaken by it that I was sad for some time. But that didn’t make me quit designing. In fact, it made me even more determined to improve my skills and prove the haters wrong. After a while, I posted another design in the group. This time, I got a lot of positive feedback. My advice to people who are experiencing cyberbullying is to ignore the negative comments and block those who send you disturbing messages. Don’t suffer in silence; talk about it with someone you trust.

– Aiman, 16

I was a victim of bullying in primary school. I used to go without food during recess because my pocket money was frequently taken away. I also endured verbal abuse and body shaming in lower secondary school. My bullies constantly worked to damage my reputation by spreading false information about me. I kept quiet for a while because I lacked the courage to confront them. But then I realised that if I didn’t stand up for myself, the bullying would keep happening. So, one day, I alerted my principal to the bullying incidents. I also scheduled a meeting with the school counsellor for some individual counselling and therapy sessions since the bullying had affected me emotionally. In addition, I talked to my family members about my issues and had their support. Never be afraid to speak up.

– Durka, 17

In primary school, my bullies liked to make fun of my skin colour, calling me all kinds of names. They also accused me of stealing and spread the accusations to the point that pupils from other classes avoided me. I hated going to school just because of them. It got so bad that I had suicidal thoughts. Thinking back, I am glad I didn’t carry out those thoughts. Young and alone though I was, I wasn’t going to let bullying take away my joy. I went to the bullies and confronted them about their actions. I also took to ignoring them – eventually, without any response from me, they stopped being mean. I also focused on my studies, which was a way to beat them. I am thankful that I have found true friends who appreciate me for who I am. If you face any problem, just voice it. Tell your teachers, parents and friends. Speaking up frees your mind. Never take other people’s opinions of you as a definition of yourself. Be proud of who you are.

– Suven, 16

These comments were obtained by Gurjit Sadu Singh, who is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.Those suffering from problems can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service at 03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392; Talian Kasih at 15999 or 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp; Jakim’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) family, social and community care centre at 0111-959 8214 on WhatsApp; and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur at 03-7627 2929 or go to befrienders.org.my/centre-in-malaysia for a full list of numbers nationwide and operating hours, or email sam@befrienders.org.my.

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