Seek out help to deal with bullying at school
DEAR MARIANN: I am constantly bullied at school to the point that I want to end my life. I’m embarrassed to talk to my parents about this. Where should I go for help?
MARIANN’S RESPONSE: This scenario is one that is too familiar both nationally and personally. Your mentioning suicide is of extreme concern to me, especially since it is the third leading cause of death for youth, which translates to more than 4,000 American young lives lost intentionally versus accidentally. Also remember you are not alone in this sadistic situation. Studies indicate that nearly 25 percent of all school-age students have been or are being bullied. Physical confrontations are the more common form of bullying, but now using technology or “cyberbullying” has become equally as problematic.
First and foremost, you must tell anyone who will listen that you are being bullied. Confiding in a school counselor or a favorite teacher would be a good start. Also letting your family know of this problem could potentially be life saving. No one has the right to shame, ridicule, or belittle another human. When someone is a bully, they are finding inappropriate satisfaction in seeing others suffer, which can be a starting point for deeper and more disturbing psychological traits later in life, such as being sadistic, narcissistic, antisocial, a sociopath or worse.
Also, filing a police report would be a second step. This will allow for potential legal consequences to occur and a documented record to stop the bully from continuing his or her inappropriate actions toward you or other victims. Now there are legal restraints to not only circumvent physical abuse, but also specific to cyberbulling, yet the severity of punishment varies widely from state-to-state.
And finally, if necessary, ask your parents or family member to transfer you into another school. When I was attending Willis, there were no other options, since Dempsey was yet an architectural rendering, let alone a second middle school for Delaware. Having the male/female-only Willis stairwells with accompanying bathrooms on the Winter Street side of the building was prime territory for two problematic female classmates who relentlessly bullied me in sixth grade. So please accept my empathy of your situation and I urge you to find a caring adult who will assist in confronting and correcting this problem.
Dear mariann: My boyfriend is always making comments about my weight and suggesting that he will leave me if I don’t start dieting and exercising. What should I do?
MARIANN’S RESPONSE: My first question to you is why are you with someone who is demeaning and not accepting for who you are? Since you mention “boyfriend” this is a different scenario from when spouses change in weight due to pregnancy and becoming more sedimentary from the at-home time commitment of raising children. Therefore, I wonder about potential self-esteem issues that you might be experiencing since you have picked a less-than supportive partner. Also, if you truly have weight issues, these could be deflating your self-esteem and leading you toward relationships that are not healthy, loving and supportive.
If this guy is a “keeper” (which I question), how often is he mentioning your weight? Should his comments be highly sporadic and occur only during a heated argument between the two of you (hopefully a rarity), potentially you are being oversensitive. However, if his comments are incessant and mean-spirited, again I ask, why are you with him? My next question is, whether you are truly overweight or do you have a “boyfriend” who wants “Twiggy” for a girlfriend? (She was the start of the waif-thin runway fashion models for anyone reading this younger than 40.)
If there is a true need to shed a few pounds, this might be a healthy goal for you, both physically, to lower the risk of many diseases, and mentally, to boost your self-esteem. Do you want to start dieting and exercising as he suggests? If so, how can he be a supporter of this goal versus a detriment? As a start, how about cooking healthy meals together, along with keeping a diary of your food intake? Seeing on paper how you are attempting to improve your nutrition versus mindless eating of problematic fast-food, fatty meats, sugary carbonates sodas, snack foods that are from a bag and high in calories, or over-indulging in desserts, are key areas of reduction for success in losing weight.
Next, can you join a gym together? You might not enjoy the weight room as most men do, but there are other activities such as aerobics, swimming and yoga that could be beneficial to you. I love lap swimming, which is a great de-stressor, especially due to the repetitiveness of your motion and the quietness while in the water. Also taking a brisk walk or a jog several times weekly is excellent for cardiovascular health. Going to the humane society and adopting a dog, (while saving a life), will force you to walk more if you need the motivation to get moving, let alone the invaluable companionship it will offer you, just in case you decide on dumping that insensitive-sounding boyfriend.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Saturdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, visit delgazette.com/life-questions-with-local-answers or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.