One thing to do to make others stop picking on you
The boy’s walk is a dead giveaway. Tense, unsure of himself, he is obviously bewildered by his new surroundings. The older students thus spot him as a new boy in school. Soon a group of girls quickly surround him to perform their “initiation rites,” assailing him with obscenities! Crimson from ear to ear, he flees to the nearest sanctuary—the rest room. Laughter echoes off the walls.
THE foregoing is a rather typical scene in many schools. Harassment, teasing and insulting are the cruel pastimes of many youths. Said one youth: “When the kids see you they start laughing and I feel like killing myself.”
Verbal abuse by a person’s peers can slice through self-confidence like a sharpened sword. And the effects can be long lasting. Recalls one man, ‘When I was in school, a lot of people laughed at me because I couldn’t talk plain. I became self-conscious and was afraid to talk in front of people.’ The ridicule he suffered affects him to this day.
‘How can I make them let me alone?’ a youth might therefore ask. Perhaps you should first consider why the teasing takes place.
Why They Do It
Often the laughter is a mere camouflage of inner turmoil. Behind the bravado, the tormentors might really be saying: ‘We don’t like ourselves, but putting someone down makes us feel better.’
One teacher, Edward C. Martin, recalls a situation where “for two weeks a group of girls were harassing another girl in and out of classes.” The victim “was literally terrified.” Martin concluded: “For the group of antagonists, this aggressiveness was a source of unity and camaraderie. They relished the times of confrontation and the times of subtle teasing. Individuals took pride and received group praise devising more exciting methods of taunting their foe.” A youth named Shelley who participated in such teasing similarly concluded: “We thought it was the ‘in’ thing to do. . . It gave you a sort of intimacy feeling, you know. As if you belonged.”