Turning Shame Into Acceptance

When did being different become a negative thing? People know bullying is wrong yet it happens every day. For some reason people think they can classify one another into groups and as a result everyone and every group can be labeled. Therefore, singling people out becomes a way to, “level the playing field and make people feel better about themselves,” Health teacher Nicole Carter said.

Being told to not bully or put other people down is important but what’s missing is the discussion about why people are bullying in the first place. Shaming provides an escape from personal issues and in some ways this behavior is a result of being young, but it is also indicative of a lack of knowledge on how to accept one another.

“Many kids constantly feel like they aren’t good enough, so shaming others is a kind of relief,” BHS Counselor Tammy Esrailian said.

High school is an important time for students to discover new things about themselves and those around them. But many people, “don’t have a solid sense of self yet,” Esrailian said, which creates a hostile environment.

The main cause of this bullying and shaming seems to be insecurity and the social stresses and environment of high school inhibit many students’ ability to branch out and be who they want to be. It is difficult to avoid comparing yourself to people you see every day at school, who you might consider to be smarter, more attractive, funnier than yourself.

Here at BHS we have Kindness Week which reminds students to appreciate and respect one another. “This is definitely a step in the right direction, but we have the ability to do so much more, like celebrate diversity everyday, in our curriculum, and adopt it as a school,” Carter said.  

In order to potentially understand why shaming is so common, the focus needs to be on those who bully and what makes them act this way. Most of the time bullies tend to be lacking in self-confidence whereas the people who are bullied are the those who are confident enough in themselves to be who they are and stand out. These people should be supported by their peers, not knocked down. This irony merits much more recognition than it receives. It is important to understand this fact, because failing to understand the reasons for bullying impacts how and what we can do to solve the problem.

The need to judge each other afflicts high schoolers and society as well. Acceptance is talked about but if it was widely practiced the amount of shaming wouldn’t appear to be so significant.

“As a culture we have a tendency to blame,” Esrailian said.

In order to create change it is essential to start a conversation about shaming and why it occurs, while also realizing it for what it is -- insecurities masked by scrutiny.


Posted on May 23, 2016 .