Bullying is never an easy topic to discuss. The following AskReddit threads showcase the impact of bullying through three different perspectives: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. All of these views offer a different angle on bullying, but ones, none the less, that remind us all of how truly terrible and gut wrenching it can be.
Source lists available at the end.
There was a girl who intensely bullied me and my best friend. She bullied my friend because she was a lesbian. She bullied me for having an association. One day, after pushing my friend a bit too far, I told said bully that she should, “Go home and kill herself.” A few weeks later, she did. I felt absolutely no remorse. It maybe my fault. It could have been a coincidence. However, I didn’t like her when she was alive. Her death will not change my mind.
I’ve felt pretty awful about this my entire life. When I was 15 or so, we had this one kid come and hang out at our table during lunch time quite often. The reason my friends made fun of him was for no reason, other than, he was just a weird kid. Now, I personally didn’t join in the ragging. I actually thought he was pretty funny. But I never stopped my friends from doing it and usually laughed at their jokes so I’m no less guilty than anyone. One guy was really mean to him. He wasn’t a good person at all. He didn’t have many interesting things to say, so he used making fun of others as a way to fit in I suppose. He craved attention and us laughing at his jokes was his way to get it. He constantly went after this kid, to the point where, if he said anything at all, the guy would say some comment to make fun of him over it.
He stopped coming to our table after a couple of months, and I would only ever see him sitting in some side hallways eating lunch alone or whatnot. Over the summer, he jumped in front of a car and killed himself. No note or anything, but everyone knew why. After learning more about him, he was actually an awesome kid. He played football for some clubs, really great at drawing, and all sorts of other things. Had he been given the chance to contribute to conversations, he would have been just as liked and adored as anyone else.
Bullying is never okay, and being silent and letting it happen around you is just as bad. For some reason or another, some kids just unfairly become targets and that leads to all the bullies in the world taking advantage of them. It’s something I’ve always been ashamed of, and I’ve honestly tried being as nice to everyone around me as much as I can. There were literally dozens of moments I could have told my friends to cut it out, and they would have listened to me, but I didn’t. I never said anything. I just always let it happen all around me.
I was a bully from Grades 2-8, reaching a peak at about Grade 5, and decided consciously to stop being mean around Grade 7. I was a young girl, and my parents had divorced the summer before Grade 1. I had 3 older brothers who took it hard (so did I) and were rough with me. I learned to defend myself became quite physically strong and because I felt powerless in my home life I chose to find a sense of power in the schoolyard. I was physically abusive (punching, pushing, tripping people’s desks over, wrecking kid’s projects) and had a sharp tongue. I would go out of my way to sniff out insecurities and say any mean thing I could to make a kid cry. It was quite mean.
I was also a cyber bully. I remember telling one girl at my school over a messaging service that she was fat and ugly and no one would ever want to be with her. I’m still ashamed of it. This girl became severally anorexic and bulimic starting in Grade 8 and by Grade 12 was in the hospital and almost died. I tried to reach out and apologize and be there for her (at this point, I had done an 180 after heavy therapy in my earlier years), but I understood why she didn’t want to talk to me.
I saw her last year on my walk to work, and I smiled and said “Hi.” She had a baby in a stroller. I was really happy for her, but I still felt guilt for being such an awful human growing up. There are still a handful of people who have a very low opinion of me, although I came around and made a public apology for being a terrible person. But hurts run deep.
A few years ago, the girl who started everyone bullying me in school messaged me. I’d actually switched to a private religious school to get away from being bullied in a public school. It took about a week for me to realize that I would never fit in, and no one would ever be my friend. Over the years, I had a few friends, but only two people I ever spoke to outside of school. All because one girl decided to start making stuff up about me. Anyway, she messaged me saying she’d seen me at college and had tried getting my attention, but I’d ignored her, and she wondered if I remembered her. I did notice, and yeah, I remembered her. I told her she made my life hell for years. She tried to apologize, and she said that the reason she did it was, get this, because she had transferred schools to get away from bullying too and started bullying me so that she could avoid being the one to get bullied. I don’t know if she thought I would break out a forgiveness party or something, but she was definitely mistaken.
I worry that a kid I bullied in 7th grade might have committed suicide. I’ve tried to find him to apologize, but I don’t even know where to start. I only remember his first name, don’t have a yearbook from that year, and he moved again the next year (probably due to the bullying).
In 7th grade, I sat with two friends every day at lunch. When he moved to our school, it was the classic case of the bullied finally finding someone who was actually worse off than them and digging in. I had a terrible home life, poor, ugly, weird name, socially awkward, the whole thing. But this guy? He was new, he was awkward, he was effeminate.
At the time, I was starting to question my sexuality, but I went along with all the “haha this kid’s gay” bullying. Lots of people made fun of him, but he still chose to sit with us every day and I joined in.
I admitted to myself a year or two after this that I was definitely not straight, and I’ve thought about him probably at least once a week since then.
In fifth grade, a new kid came to my school who wasn’t in the best shape. He was rather large, and he got a lot of bullying coming into the school. People would make fun of his size, while I stood there just watching it. Sooner, rather than later, I befriended him. He was really cool, into video games just like me, and we became good friends, but the bullying never stopped.
His anger spiraled out of control. He started gaining more weight more rapidly than before. Shut himself from everyone, except for me really. Sixth grade came around, and we were sitting at lunch. Everyone at the table was making fun of him, calling him fat, and I got fed up with it. I stood up for him, finally, after not saying anything for a regretful while. My ‘popularity’ level crumpled in on itself, and we both began to take the heat. Later that day, he thanked me, with tears in his own eyes, that no one has ever done anything like that for him in six years.
Fast forward six years to 12th grade, we talked and had a bro to bro conversation. He told me he was going to commit suicide that night, but I changed his mind. Me, not being a bystander anymore, saved his life.
When I was in high school, I was kind of a hybrid weird kid/bully. There was this senior who always used to mess with me. I think his name was Glenn. He used to punch me in the arm, back, whatever using full force, out of nowhere, and tease me about anything and everything.
One day, I had enough and went full bully mode on him. I’m pretty physically imposing now, but I wasn’t then, so my weapon of choice was wit. I proceeded to just destroy him. I tore into him for like 10 minutes. I blasted everything about him from his physical appearance, intelligence, and socioeconomic standing. I ended with the most messed up thing you can say to a person, “Nobody would care if you killed yourself.”
That weekend, he hung himself in his closet with his karate belt.
There was some suicide pact going on in my high school, and nobody who heard me lay into him thought it was my fault. It still really messed me up for years. I started using, and the guilt just ate me up.
I’ve since got my life together, but I think about the last words I said to that kid almost every single day.
Wherever you are Glenn, whatever the reason, I hope you’re at peace.
I remember hearing a story about how much a small action can mean to someone. Someone I know once told me about this kid she went to high school with. The guy was almost constantly being picked on or ignored. One day, he was sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, all alone, when my friend walked over and sat next to him. My friend never said a word to the guy. She just sat there. The next day, she did it again. They kept eating lunch together, in silence for a few more days, when finally the guy introduced himself. They quickly became good friends, and the guy’s life completely changed. He went from the socially awkward outcast to really popular in a matter of months. He started playing sports and joining clubs.
A few years later, he shared his story at his high school graduation. And he revealed that he had been depressed and suicidal for months. The day my friend sat with him at lunch, he had planned to go home and kill himself. But because of my friend, he didn’t. Just something as simple as a stranger sitting by him in silence was enough for him to keep going.
As insignificant as it may seem, a small action like nodding at someone or sitting by them can completely change people’s lives.
I’ve got a reverse experience. One of the kids who bullied me in high school killed himself our senior year. He was incredibly popular among certain cliques, so of course, everyone was upset about it.
For a long time, I honestly could not work up any kind of sympathy for his passing. I had hated him for years, and in a perverse way, was glad he was gone because it meant he couldn’t give me hell about whatever struck his fancy anymore.
Now that I’m older, I have more maturity to recognize that his bullying was a symptom of a deeper underlying issue. He desperately needed attention, didn’t know how to properly ask for it and succumbed to his internal demons.
More than anything, I mourn his parents’ loss of their son. No one should bury their child, even if he was a bully to the other kids. I would have hoped he’d have grown up to be kinder to everyone, and not just his friends, as he certainly had the capacity to be kind when he wanted to be.
A teammate of mine committed suicide in high school. He wasn’t necessarily bullied, but he was never really “cool” and didn’t fit in much. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I kept it all inside. I didn’t go to his funeral. I quit baseball. All I could think of was how I should have known or I could have helped. I should have replied when he asked me to hang out the week before he killed himself. All of this regret and anger built up inside of me and launched me into a year long depression. I’ve since gotten better and realized I can’t let myself feel guilty in any way. There’s no way I could have known. I still think about him every day.
I used to be really mean to this girl in elementary. In secret, I was nice to her though. She was really poor, and people would make fun of her for wearing the same shirt two days in a row. For Christmas, I gave her a bunch of candy, old clothes, and even my favorite shirt. It made me feel good. I never told any of my friends. She started looking at me a lot after that, and it kind of made me uncomfortable because I didn’t want people to think we were friends.
One time, I made a passing comment on how she should wear her hair in pigtail braids. The next day, she had pigtail braids and it looked cute. My “friends” made fun of her still, and I made an obnoxious comment on how she had listened to me and wanted to see if I could push it. I told her that she’d look cute with two small braids. The next morning she cut her hair, herself. From mid-back hair to a lopsided bob haircut that wasn’t long enough for braids, but she had baby ponytails. Everyone made fun of her and said she looked ugly. I felt horrible. Later on in the year, my friends and I were playing tag and running around. She was running around with us. We were all talking about how she’s stalking us and being pathetic.
She stopped showing up to school. I heard her aunt died on the toilet. People made fun of her for that also. She didn’t have parents, and I’m pretty sure child protection services took her away after that. Once she was gone, I felt so guilty. Anytime her name was called, it hurt my chest as it should have. I look her up every year to see if I can find her on Facebook. I have no idea if she’s even alive.
Tricia, I was so digesting to you and am beyond ashamed. I’m so sorry.
In high school, this guy would make very uncomfortable subtle racist remarks at me. Such as, “ching long ling long.” It didn’t really affect me since I literally had no idea who he was. Apparently, he was well known in my school, but anyways he continued doing this until I had a class with him during senior year. I walked up to him and asked, “Are we going to have a problem?” and he stopped afterward and left me alone. I honestly don’t know why or how he was respected by the general population. He was a Grade A scumbag. During senior year, he had sexual relations with this 15-year-old, and he showed pictures to almost everyone at my school. He got in deep trouble for it and was essentially expelled from school.
Fast forward to the present, just a few months ago, I found out that he hung himself with a belt. You know, it’s weird to think about those who kill themselves. Often, the victims are not the ones who you could have predicted. This dude was really outgoing, and you wouldn’t think he would have the capability of doing something like that. I don’t know what pushed him to do it, maybe some deeply personal stuff happened after high school. I probably would’ve talked to him about it. Probably.
There was a girl the year behind me in an all-girls private school who didn’t have a lot of friends and was very shy. Some of my friends and I were in the same after school club as her, makeup club. She was a sweet girl, but she wore a ton of makeup every day that she honestly wasn’t all that great at applying. A lot of girls were on the same boat, but this girl was very quiet and did not stand up for herself, so it made her an easy target for ridicule. No one knew her that well at all, so people would call her names behind her back. My friends coined the nicknames “Cake Face” and “Robot Girl” because of her very thin, rigid figure, and the layers of makeup she applied to her face.
I never took part in this until my best friend did, and I would laugh along when my friends shouted “Cake Face” down the hallway, never said anything because the girl would just smile back and walk away. I always figured she had a good friend group somewhere else and, because of that, the bullying never got to her. She was always so kind and always smiled.
Anyways, a few of my friends and I ended up getting kicked out of the school after that year (for something completely unrelated), but the bullying was perpetrated by girls much more popular than I was, so they had a lot more reach and the bullying became much crueler than I ever thought it could get. And it all began with the names my friends had called her, and I had laughed at these names and said nothing to stop them.
The girl walked out into the woods with her dad’s shotgun one day and blew her brains out. I always assumed she didn’t let the bullying get to her because she always had a smile on her face and always spoke kindly to me, my friends, and even other girls who bullied her at school.
So, in the end, I don’t think the suicide was any fault of my own. But I do take responsibility for not speaking up and putting an end to the bullying. And I feel so horrible for perpetuating the horrible nicknames that tormented a sweet girl until she decided to kill herself.
It’s been a while, but I’m still sorry, and I think I will continue to be for a long time. I never knew how bad it was, and if I had separated myself from everything for a minute and reflected, I would have realized how awful things must have been for her.
There was this kid in middle school who was irritating. No matter how hard I tried to be nice to him, he was still unbearable. Eventually, I gave up trying to be his friend. People in our grade would constantly bully him, to the point where, once we hit high school, he had to switch schools.
Fast forward to a couple of years later. Probably a little after high school, I see the guy on facebook. I shoot him a request, and he accepts it. I get a message later from him apologizing for being rude back in middle school. I tell him that it’s no big deal and apologized for anything I could have said. From what he told me, his life got so much better after middle school. He grew out of his awkward stage and found himself in high school. He really turned into a pretty cool guy.
The saddest part though was that people still messed with him. They would vandalize his house, as well as, scream at crazy hours of the night. All because he was that weird kid in middle school.
Now, looking back, I realize him “being rude” was just a defense mechanism. He was just growing through an awkward stage like all of us. it’s sad how toxic schools can be. Kids just don’t understand that their words or actions have real life consequences.
I wasn’t a bully, but I was bullied. All the way through primary school and high school (5-18 years old) just because of my name (my name is Jordan and I’m a girl), and the fact that I was a little weird. I got physically beaten, verbally assaulted, teased, stalked, and cyber bullied. I used to cut myself, act out, steal, get into trouble, and everything else because it just got to the point of no tears anymore. I just couldn’t cry. I was at the low point in my life, and I was standing on the train platform. Right at the tip of the white line, about to jump in front of the next train because I couldn’t handle it anymore. But I saw that train, and I saw a few kids on the platform. And I thought to myself ‘who am I to emotionally scar those children they way someone had scarred me.’ So, I turned around, went home, ate a donut, and never looked back.
What I’m trying to say is, I realized that there are more important things in life. But, sometimes, people don’t get the same realization in time as I had.
When I was in my final year of high school, a girl in my class killed herself. She was 15. She was being bullied. There were jokes about her and she was ostracized. It was a private girls school, and scholarship kids like me and her were the bottom of the social ladder. I was lucky. I was funny and could make people laugh so that pretty much got me accepted, but she was quiet and sensitive.
I came into school one day, and we were all ushered into a common room that only the 6th formers could use. My entire year was there, and the teachers then proceeded to tell us that the previous night she had hung herself at home. I remember her best friend sat a few seats away from me just screaming non-stop. I was in a daze. It was the first death I had experienced, and I was trying to make sense of it all. The girls who had bullied her were the ones that were noticeably grieving more when they were being observed by teachers that is. They were the rich and pretty ones who made her life hell in the German class they had together. As soon as a teacher left the room, they’d start whispering and destroying notes they’d written about her.
I was angry with myself for not protecting her. For thinking that she needed to man up. For thinking that she was okay despite being treated so badly. It changed my outlook and my actions. I try to be more tolerant of those I’d normally dismiss. I challenge bullying behaviour. I try to be kind. The thought of a young girl killing herself over bullying continues to haunt me, despite it being twenty years ago this December.
I have been both the bullied and the bully. I was the weird kid that stood out in school. I always did my own thing, didn’t really care what others thought, but was socially awkward to the max. I got picked on left and right for it. Even most of my friends bullied me, but I took it so I didn’t have to feel alone. I did this for years, and honestly, I was on the brink of making that choice, but I had already experienced a suicide in the family before, so I was able to avoid that due to sheer willpower alone.
Through all of this though, I never really had anyone to talk to. My mom was a drunk and my stepdad was terrible, so I kind of took it out on others online. Normally it never really went anywhere, but there were two incidents where I made kids far younger than me cry. At the time, I felt proud. I thought it was the most hilarious thing I could have done, and I was proud.
Looking back, I was such a jerk to those two. If I could, I would apologize to them profusely. They didn’t deserve what I said to them, and they didn’t deserve to have a normal fun night ruined because I was being angsty. Bullying is never okay, no matter what the format. Please, if you are in my shoes, find someone, ANYONE to talk to, vent, write it out, do something. Just don’t let it build. Don’t be that person.
During middle school, I was a bully. It’s ridiculous how I used terrible behavior towards others as a way to get attention for how messed up I was and my entire life.
For quite some time, I was that weird kid. I was troubled with family issues. Then, I sort of discovered how easy it was to draw attention towards others and to manipulate people into doing terrible things just to fit in.
I never even did much myself like throwing lots of insults or punching a victim, but instead used this mean way of subconsciously controlling others to do the dirty work.
I deeply regret it. It took me a while to figure out that I was the actual problem and that the only thing helping would be counseling and seeing a doctor.
I tried to catch up with people and most of them are okay by now- that’s at least a small relief and a huge lesson learned on my part.
So, I just recently found out that a kid who I thought my group of friends was friends with (seriously we hung out sometimes, went to each others’ graduation parties, sometimes ate lunch together, were partners for school projects, chatted in the halls) thought of us as bullies to him.
The catalyst event that we saw as him becoming our friend, he saw as bullying. Basically, we noticed one day that he kind of looked like Vanilla Ice (on the same day he was wearing a Rice t-shirt with a zip-up hoodie, so it actually looked like his shirt said ICE, which we thought was awesome) and made kind of a big deal about telling him and sometimes referred to him as ICE for the rest of the time that we knew him, though, certainly not every time we saw him or anything.
I guess I can now see how he might not have appreciated the attention and not known how to tell us that, but we honestly never realized how he felt. I’m still trying to figure out how to apologize. We never see him anymore, and basically lost contact after he went to college.
At home, my parents were constantly fighting. Instead of learning friendship and love, I learned anger and resentment.
I brought that to school with me. Since I was bigger than average, I could shove the other kids around and there wasn’t much they could do about it. I enjoyed it. It was a sadistic power trip.
When you’re big for your age, as a child, it’s a huge advantage. I think as you get into adulthood the playing field evens out a bit more, but back then I could do whatever I wanted and nobody, short of an adult, could stop me. Power like that goes to your head. Doubly so when you’re just a kid.
I was secretly gay and totally insecure about it. I had a sharp sense of humor and found that if I used it preemptively against others, then they didn’t have time to examine me or my insecurities
In preschool, I punched a girl in the stomach when we were collecting our coats and shoes because she asked politely to play with me and my friend. She was crying, but I didn’t feel all that much remorse. She was a gypsy, and I had just been put into the public school system while listening to my dad rave on about how “The Gyppos are ruining our country”.
I see her when I visit my hometown, and there are not enough words to express the shame I feel when I have to look down because I can’t let my eyes meet hers.
Hell, dad. Blaming you for this one.
Followup: She and her mom are now doing really well. They have started their own business (a quaint little coffee shop where I grew up) and left the “Gypsy” lifestyle behind. I know she hasn’t forgotten because it was a recurring offense, but she never fails to smile and say hello when I do see her now. Our parents can have a laugh about it (my mom condemns my dad for saying what he did), but I can never bring it up to her. They wave it away as foolish childish behavior since we were both around 4-5. I’ve meekly apologized a good few times, and I really do respect her so I hope she never took it to heart. She really is a lovely girl, too.
I was a very, very angry little girl. My older sister and mother were mean, critical women. Then, when I went to school, I was also bullied often myself. I just recycled it onto other kids with all the imaginative cruelty I could muster. I used them as practice and eventually got good enough to fight back against my own bullies. The day I stopped picking on other people was the day I learned I could fend for myself. A kid tried to pour a carton of milk on me, and I grabbed it and threw it back in his face. I’ll never know how much I might have hurt the kids I redirected my anger onto, though, I have a pretty good idea and it isn’t knowledge I enjoy living with.
I’m so sorry.
I sometimes daydream about getting honest answers out of my bullies. I really want to know if they even feel bad for what they did. I was bullied both in school and in my sports team between the age of 11-15. In my early years, I was really talented, without bragging, and I worked hard for it and I loved going to games and so on. When I was a kid, I was pretty charismatic and short and I think that may have been why the other kids picked on me. As the bullying continued, I began skipping practices because sometimes I wasn’t sure I could keep a straight face among them anymore. And with this, my charisma kind of just faded away. Eventually, I quit.
My life has turned out pretty well now at the age of 23. I got a loving girlfriend, since a year back, who makes me feel good about myself, and my charismatic personality is slowly returning for the first time in about 7 years.
I just wonder if they feel any guilt at all because I’m really having a hard time picturing it.