Bullying. I am sure that at some time in your life you have dealt with some form of bullying, albeit small or as it may affect someone else. We hear about it in school, we see public service commercial talking about “being kind” and toting how bullying is detrimental and cruel. I bring up this issue not only because I am another mental health professional VERY passionate about the negative implications of bullying, but because it is a REAL and painful issue.
As a young girl, I witnessed first hand the impact bullying has on kids. My brother was maliciously bullied, often violently attacked by individuals who found their own form of satisfaction from oppressing someone different than them. I of course, got some of the side effects, the blow back because I was the little sister. As a little girl in kindergarten, I watched as a few older kids took my brother’s knit winter hat and tossed it out the bus window. I remember to this day, a middle school to high school boy telling me that I better “not tell my parents what he did, or else”. I suppose even back then I didn’t know any better and of course, told my parents anyway.
As a young girl, I witnessed first hand the impact bullying has on kids. My brother was maliciously bullied, often violently attacked by individuals who found their own form of satisfaction from oppressing someone different than themselves. I of course got some of the side effects, the blow back because I was the little sister. As a little girl in kindergarten, I watched as a few older kids took my brother’s knit winter hat and tossed it out the bus window. I remember to this day, a middle school to high school boy telling me that I better “not tell my parents what he did, or else”. I suppose even back then I didn’t know any better and of course, told my parents anyway.
To say it was difficult dealing with bullying at school is putting it mildly. Sadly, as the years have changed, so has the various methods that make bullying possible. What was once a location dependent action has not become a wide spread viper, waiting to attack whenever one opens their phones, computer or tablet. Shoot, nowadays one can even look down at their watch and read text messages or emails.
When I saw a podcast from our local news anchor about his personal experiences with bullying, my interest was piqued. My honest reaction, I thought “how could anyone ever have bullied or attacked someone that seemed so popular and confident”? See, that is what I am talking about here. You just never know what our past holds or what people are going through.
Here is the Point of View series with Nick Lafave from WZZM 13 On Your Side:
Sara: Nick, I was able to listen to your podcast on bullying and it changed my questioning a bit. My absolute belief is that mental health plays the role in so many aspects of life, so it’s no surprise that it plays a huge role in how one handles bullying. When I first saw your podcast on bullying, I was really thrown back. You did not seem like the type of person who dad ever been bullied, so I think that speaks to the ability for children to find anyone who they can bully. When you were in the time frame that you were being bullied who did you turn to and were they responsive?
N: It was mostly in elementary school. K through fifth grade. I turned to teachers and school administrators who did next to nothing. My parents eventually got involved, pulled me out of school until the situation was addressed. The principal lost his job in part because of the fallout from the situation.
S: When you're in the midst of bullying as a youth what were some of the thoughts that went through your mind in terms of your own self-worth? You can answer this for your middle school and high school years if needed. I know you mentioned that you did not remember a whole lot about the actual time frame you were bulled.
N: It WAS a long time ago, so it’s hard to remember. But, fear was big. I literally didn’t want to get on the bus in the morning. I didn’t want to go out to recess. I didn’t want to walk or bike home after school because I feared I’d be caught. Which DID happen. Fear is the overriding emotion I remember. I never got down about myself. But, I think that’s because I still had a good group of friends and a close family. I was being beat up. But, I never felt alone. So, as far as my ‘self worth’ goes, I think I’m fortunate that that didn’t seem to take a hit. But, obviously, getting bullied and beat is going to have SOME impact on identity and confidence. I was just lucky to have other factors in my life providing positive reinforcement.
S: How do you view your own self-worth now?
N: I think I’m as well adjusted as any average American adult can expect to be. I think any self-confidence issues I DO have are not related to my being bullied as a child.
S: Would you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert?
N: Certainly an extrovert. I work in TV news. It’s hard to be shy in this industry.
S:What propels you to go into an industry that would definitely have a high rate of criticism?
N: I don’t think the aspect of public criticism ever factored into it for me. Communication was always a natural attribute of mine. I was in theater as a child and college. And I was always interested in current events and politics. Those were the factors that drove me into TV news. The public criticism is just something I assumed would be a part of it. But, I never worried about when I was considering this as a career. It doesn’t phase me too much now either.
S: What are some of the strengths that you use now to be able to repel criticism or do you still have an issue with criticism?
N: There’s obviously a toll it takes on you. But, the more confident you are in your work, and the better the support structure you have around you, the better off you’ll be. But, I don’t think that’s limited to my industry. I think that’s true of life in general. No matter what you do, people will criticize you in some way. Guaranteed. Whether public or private, it’ll happen. To be honest, the one-on-one criticism I get from people is more difficult for me to handle than anonymous online trolls. I digress… if you have a confidence in your work and a network of people in your life who care about you, you’ll be able to better handle the slings and arrows.
S: Have you ever dealt with depression?
N: I don’t think so. And I say ‘think’ because I’ve never been diagnosed nor have I thought I needed help in that area. I’ve had my peaks and valleys like anyone else. But, I think I’ve always maintained a good level of mental health. That’s not to say I’ve never sought therapy. I have. You don’t need to be depressed to see a psychiatrist.
S: As a parent how would you handle your kids being bullied and what would you say to encourage them?
N: I’d would and will tell them that I love them every single day. That more people in this life will love you than will not. And if anyone is harming them, I will move Heaven and Earth to put a stop to it, just the way my parents did for me.
S: What are some of the greatest lessons that you have learned through your own life experiences especially as it pertains to bullying?
N: Ask for help. It’s there. Don’t try to go it alone. None of us are meant to get through life on our own. Especially when things are hard. That’s when you need to seek help the most.
S: How did you end up developing a strong sense of identity or do you still struggle with a strong sense of identity?
N: Everyone struggles with identity. I feel like I live two lives; TV Nick and Real Nick. But, I (mostly) have a good balance. How did I do it? Who knows? Luck. Family. Faith. Trial and error. All of it and more.
S: In your podcast, you talked about the benefit (so to speak) of being bullied in the 80s because nowadays, there is so much access to individuals via electronic devices. What positive words of affirmation do you have for those children who are bullied today?
N: It gets better. It’s cliché. But, it does. I’d say what I said previous: more people love you than don’t and help is there. You just need to ask. And (more clichés), cut out the people in your life who are attacking you. They don’t benefit you at all. Stop communicating with them.
S: As a parent, are you ready to deal with a child and social media?
N: Not in the least! ?
Thank you Nick for taking time out to answer the questions from some lady who you don't know, it is greatly appreciated. As you mentioned in one of your answers, you do not need to be depressed or have a massive psychiatric disorder to seek out mental health assistance. I have had different individuals who sit down with me and say, "so this is what therapy is" then breath a sigh of relief because they were able to share things that had been balling up in their chest.
Please check out Nick's podcast, "Alone at the Desk". Even if you are not in the West Michigan area, they are insightful and funny quips from the mind of a news anchor, dad, husband, son and brother.
Want more post like this, check out the link below. Keep an eye out for more Point of View Series posts, including:
Psychology and Spirituality from a Pastor Steve VanderWest **(This is a real GEM).
Loss of a Parent
Betrayal Trauma with a Wife whose husband had an affair
My Child has Gone Astray
I Decided to Home School My Children
I Was Incarcerated
and Many more.......