Being Beyond Bullying: Series Part 1

Part One: Just FLY

In recent weeks, teen bullying has become center stage in news across the nation. At first we were shocked to hear the report of Preston Deener (age 15), with his episode of bullying right before his television interview on the subject. Then we were appalled to hear the account of Max Duke (age 15) and his school suspension for standing up to bullying victimization. And finally, we were truly at a loss for words to even describe the tragic case of Amanda Todd (age 15), whose personal struggles with bullying drove her to commit the unthinkable: suicide.

 We view, we watch, and we see these three striking examples, but the effects of bullying reach far more teens than meets the eye. The lives of Preston, Max, and Amanda aren’t the only ones who are scarred by bullying, as countless other teens, too many in names and numbers, feel that same pain and suffering.  Why is it that so many of us teens experience such physical, mental, and social abuse? How has bullying led some of us to such a loss of the self and the soul? And what choices can we as teens make to live beyond bullying?

Within the following postings, bullying will become the main focus of the conversation. As needless mistreatment and disrespect have affected every one of us at one point in our lives, the experience of being harassed for just being ourselves has now become common. Serving as a theme too universal to be further ignored, we will take a look at bullying from the place it has the most impact: the self.

For the majority of teens, bullying doesn’t necessarily harm our physical self, but it certainly damages our sense of self. This sense of self that bullying (and especially cyber bullying) affects includes our self-concept (Who We Are), our self-image (What We Choose), and our self-purpose (Why We Are Here). As others have generically called this ‘self-esteem,’ the main goal of bullying is simply to destroy it. By using constant humiliation and repetitive subjugation, bullying aims at making our sense of self so weak that we forget how wonderful and perfect our life, our choice, and our purpose really are. So now knowing what bullying does, what can we do? And, more importantly, how can we do it?

As bullying wants to make our sense of self weak, what we can do is make our sense of self STRONG. To do this, all we have to do is just FLY. Or rather, just First Love Yourself, a less common acronym for a very common need.  By loving who you are in this world, by loving your choices and where they have led, by loving the reason why you wake and breathe everything day, you create a certainty in yourself that cannot be easily shaken or dismantled. Just having that love for yourself, no matter what anyone or anything may tell you, will keep you grounded in the beautiful person that is Who You Truly Are. Love yourself unconditionally for every aspect of yourself, even your fears and your regrets, as then no part of yourself is denied from receiving that strength of certainty in your highest self. With a solid foundation in our sense of self, the walls of our self-esteem stand sturdy against any mind games bullying will attempt to use. All you need is love (for yourself).

Loving yourself, however, is still only the first step. In the following weeks, we will delve deeper into transforming our interactions and understanding of bullying. I deeply encourage all of us, teen and adult alike, to continue reading this series and continue to have conversations on this topic. Be the change you wish to see in the bullying world.

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at

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