Dear Teen….

Dear Teenager,

While the majority of people feel happy about home schooling finishing, you may feel worried about going back to school…worried about not having any friends, worried about being picked on or bullied.

I wanted to impart some of my knowledge about bullying and harassment. If you have been subjected to any of this, first of all, I am so sorry. To read or hear awful, untrue things about yourself can cause immense pain that is hard to erase or avoid.

However, did you know that there is a basic human need to feel included? This human need is strong…so much so that it has been proven to override a person’s sense of right and wrong. The fear of being excluded from the group is stronger than standing up for what is right.

For example, if you have read horrible things about yourself online or you have a group of people saying bad things, the chances are that they have got so carried away that they don’t even know what is right or wrong anymore. It becomes a competition to say the worst thing, the funniest remark and the most shocking allegation. It’s not even about you anymore.

I follow a wonderful, Irish blogger on Instagram called Joanne Cronin. She does really fun reels where she shows different outfits and she is a joy to watch on my Instagram feed because she is unashamedly herself and she has such innocence about her which is rare on social media.

However, she was saying on Instagram stories a few days ago that she receives the most awful abuse on Tik Tok. She shared some of the remarks that she has had to get removed…..people laughing at her, asking if she has tourettes, MS as well as cruel remarks about her clothes.

I think that people forget that there is a person on the other end of these remarks, and whether it’s abuse spouted in a group message, a forum or a Tik Tok feed, it’s never acceptable.

If you look at these comments it becomes a competition to say the worst, most shocking thing. There’s never a moment when someone dares to say “do you think we’ve gone too far? Do you think we should stop?”. That’s because they NEED to feel accepted, even though deep down they know it’s wrong.

Remember that if anyone bullies you or says mean things, they don’t truly know you. They have created an image in their head of who you are but only you know the real you. Only your close family and friends know the real you.

So what can you do about it? Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t make it stop. What you can do, is talk to trusted people about it. Talk to parents, teachers, close friends that you can trust. Keep a record of everything….screen shots, a diary of events and anything that you may need in future. Harassment is against the law.

I can also assure you that you are never alone. There are some great charities out there specifically to help with these issues. Here are two amazing ones that have great information available on their websites, as well as contact information if you need support https://youngminds.org.uk/ https://www.cybersmile.org/

Walk into school with your head held high and remember that it takes courage to show up every day, not to go along with a crowd, knowing you’re doing harm to someone else. Everything passes and there is support out there along the way.

You’ve got this.

Love, Susie x

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