Being a teenager has never been easy, no matter where you’re growing up. In addition to the dramatic physical and personal changes that teens are undergoing, there’s also the added pressure of fitting in socially at school. Although the methods of bullying may have changed, due to the advent of social media platforms, the results are just as damaging as they’ve ever been. A thirteen year-old Australian girl named Tayla has been finding that out the hard way.
While bullying had always been a problem, the transition to her teenage years only seemed to bring about more intense harassment. Kids taunted her, beat her up, sexually harassed her, and even pressured her to jump off a cliff. This abhorrent and incessant bullying and teasing eventually led young Tayla to develop an eating disorder. At her lowest point, she even attempted suicide.
While this story is already tragic, it’s Tayla’s school’s response to bullying that has countless people baffled and angry. Instead of disciplining the children who were responsible for the cruel behavior, school officials told young Tayla that she needed to “stop being weird” if she wanted the bullying to stop. In a phone call to her mother, a school official said that “If Tayla’s going to do unusual things, she’s going to get picked on.”
Amazingly, that’s not even the end of the school’s irrational actions regarding Tayla’s bullying problem. To make things worse, they even placed Tayla in a segregated “safe room.” You can probably guess that this didn’t exactly help her feelings of isolation. Tayla simply wanted to be able to play and go about her studies like any other student.
Finding no resources to deal with the problems at school, she turned to the internet–specifically Change.org. There, she started a petition entitled “School Bullying is Killing Me.” The petition captured the attention of social media sites and received a lot of media attention during the month of June.
Tragically, in trying to call attention to the problems she was experiencing, she only became a higher-profile target for harassment. Once the attention and hype died down, she was perceived by her fellow students as “weak” and “whiny.” This was when Tayla attempted to take her own life.
At this point, social services intervened and found that the issue was so extreme that they deemed it best for Tayla not only to leave her current school, but to move to a new town with her grandfather.
Tayla’s sorrows and her unfortunate story has brought back to the forefront the worldwide issue of bullying. Psychologists worldwide list bullying as a traumatic teenage phenomenon.
The time has come for this sort of bullying to be stopped. It has never been acceptable, but schools have silently supported it by ignoring the issue and by placing the blame on “weird” kids like poor Tayla. If your child or someone you know is experiencing bullying, speak out! Community awareness is the only way to combat this age-old problem. Hopefully, with more efforts like Tayla’s, and through petitions and media coverage, we can make bullying a thing of the past.