There used to be kids, teenagers, and adults, and now the term "tween" is used to describe the "between" years, the kids aged 8 to 12 years before the official teenager status at 13. This can be a wildly exciting and tumultuous time of life for you and your 'tween. So what's it like to be a 10-year-old in Bahrain? This segment will allow you to view the world through their eyes and perspective. They are in the driver’s seat and they will tell the tale as it is. This week:
Why we need to discuss the ‘B’ word
By Layla Jivanjee
Friends are essential for a tween. Friends in the movies are all sunshine, secrets, and sleepovers, but that’s not often the case when it comes to friendships in the real world. I started studying at a new school in year 4. I was the new kid. I knew only 3 people who went to that school, and I was lucky enough to be put in a class with one of them, or so I thought. It didn’t go as I expected. We’d been in the same singing group outside the school for a couple of years, and I thought we had a lot in common. Strangely, around my mum and the other adults, she behaved like someone I would have really enjoyed to be friends with, but behind their backs, it was like living through a nightmare.
Bullying behavior peaks in Tween years
She bullied me every time she could. Being the new kid is never easy, and girls tend to pair off into ‘best friends’ or groups, from a young age. I tried so hard to make new friends, but I had no such luck. At lunchtime, I had nowhere to sit, so I went to sit at my ‘so-called’ friend’s table, but the second I sat down, she threw my lunchbox onto the floor. So I got up to fetch it, but when I returned, another girl had taken my seat. I told the girl that I was sitting there and she was so apologetic, but when she got up to change seats, the mean girl said the seat was reserved for her anyway so I was the one who had to move. Before I moved I told her not to touch my things and don’t speak to me in that nasty way again. Her little club of followers turned on me. I informed the teacher. Her parents were called yet again, but nothing changed.
I am sure everyone has had or still has a mean kid at their school or in their workplace, but we all have to learn to deal with it. There will always be that someone who throws your lunch away or shoves you in line. I know this really stinks, but you must push through it and know you are never alone and can get help. You have to be the bigger person and stick up for yourself, no matter if that risks being part of the ‘popular girls’,‘cool guys’ or being called a tattle tale. Speak up, ask a teacher for help, and tell your parents. Always tell your parents. I didn’t tell Mum about that lunchbox episode, but I should have. Perhaps if she had informed the bully’s parents, things would have gotten better faster.
Statistics, Bullying, and Suicide
Consider the numbers; 5 out of 6 5th and 6th graders are verbally abused every week, and at least half of them are bullied. On average, every child helpline in the world receives nine contacts from children and young people per day, who are suffering the effects of bullying. For every child that seeks advice by contacting a helpline, there are many more that either does not have the access, confidence or the privacy required to do the same.
My mum says bullies bully others because it makes them feel good about themselves. Quite often the biggest meanest kid in your class may be the most troubled and hurt. They need an avenue to build their self-esteem, so they pick on others. Mum explained to me that this particular girl felt intimidated by me and saw me as competition. I didn't understand this, but on our birthday our teacher asks each student to say something nice about the kid having a birthday. This bully actually said, “You are my greatest competition, so I can’t like you.”
I almost laughed out loud, it was so honest, and she had never been honest! So her hate was motivated by jealousy or fear of finding out that she isn’t perfect. I’ve found that the best tactic is to ignore the bullies. Don’t get involved with their bad behavior, and seek help immediately from a teacher. Walk away! Try not to get flustered. Bullies will only bully you if you give them the power to do so. Show them they don’t matter to you if they choose to be nasty.
Be happy with who you are. Never change because someone says you have to, just to fit in. Have fun and smile. I have amazing friendships with a few people, and they will probably last a lifetime. I’d rather have a few people I can rely on, be myself with, and treasure, than a bunch of people who barely know me. You are better being your own person alone, than pretending, just to be in an unhealthy relationship.
From 1999 to 2015: On average one child under the age of 13 died of suicide nearly every five days. (In a Circle)
HOW TO BLOCK BEING BULLIED:
Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop, in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard. If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
There are things you can do to stay safe in the future, too. Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.