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Invisible Children This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


A push. A shove. A rumor. An ­insult. A taunt. A demand for lunch money. A nasty Facebook message. Bullying has always been an ­inseparable part of the classroom, the playground, the school bus, the Internet, and just about everywhere children come in contact with each other. But bullying alone is not what is turning more and more children into depression and suicide statistics. In fact, it’s only half the ­problem.

Adults long removed from the happenings of the schoolyard have forgotten, or perhaps never noticed, that it isn’t the original insult or rumor or shove that causes children so much emotional pain. It’s the feeling of isolation that results from these petty acts that wounds them so badly. The horrible feeling of being alone has the power to tear children to shreds, to turn them into an empty shell without hope.

Severely bullied kids often become America’s very own “invisible children,” ignored by their peers – except the ones who continually harass them. They often don’t seek help because they don’t think anyone will care. The feeling of being invisible is much more damaging than the feeling of being disliked. Bullying is getting buckets of media attention, and solutions of all sorts have been implemented. This is a good start. However, the isolation caused by bullying deserves just as much, if not more, attention.

We don’t have to stop all the bullies in America to help all the kids in danger of stop all bullying, especially since it has expanded to the Internet, a platform that is completely out of the reach of parents and school authorities. What we can do is pair up bullying prevention efforts with solutions targeted at the issue of isolation. And the way to stop to isolation is simple: help kids develop strong, lasting relationships with their families, adults in their school, and especially peers.

Kids with a strong group of friends, however small, are basically impervious to the effects of bullying because they never feel isolated and alone. Friends act as a wall, not necessarily against bullying, but against isolation. We can start encouraging young people to build positive relationships in the classroom by incorporating more group projects into the curriculum – specifically, groups that the teacher selects and who must work together for a period of time. Groups in class are an easy and obvious way to encourage kids to get to know peers whom they otherwise might never have spoken to. It’s equally easy for adults to reach out to kids; a simple conversation about almost any topic can make a lonely child feel important and included.

America’s “invisible children” deserve the attention they have long been denied. We must address bullying, certainly, but we must also end isolation.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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