Today I’m writing about bullying, a serious topic that I feel deeply about, as well as methods to deal with it.
Bullying due to vitiligo often stems from ignorance about the disorder. It is my firm belief that the first step in addressing any issue is comprehensive education. Through my research and sharing of family experiences in my blog, I hope to simultaneously teach others about vitiligo and connect with vitiligo patients all around the world.
So today I’m using this platform to answer your questions regarding bullying.
I’m being bullied because of my vitiligo, and I’m too scared to tell anyone. What should I do?
In many cases, comprehensive education alone is not enough to deal with bullying. Despite how serious you think the bullying is, you should NEVER underestimate the benefit of talking to someone. I strongly advise you to confide in a parent/guardian, teacher, trusted adult, or close friend. Simply talking about your difficult experiences will diffuse a lot of the stress you’re bottling up inside.
And never forget…regardless of what people say and how they treat you, you are beautiful and worthy of respect.
I feel like nobody can relate to my struggles as a vitiligo patient.
Don’t worry! There are countless safe spaces where you can seek help. I suggest visiting my Vitiligo Resources page, where you can find vitiligo support groups that I’ve either used personally or heard good things about. There are also many forums online where many patients gather to share their experiences. You’ll definitely gain a lot from speaking to people with similar experiences. I’m sure that the people in the support groups and forums will be able to empathize with you and give you great advice! However, if you’re a child, make sure you get your parents’ permission before posting online.
What red flags should parents look for to detect bullying?
This is a great question! As the parent of a vitiligo patient, it is important to be aware of changes in your child’s behavior. A sudden fear of going to school and/or loss of self-esteem are big red flags for bullying. Do not dismiss a significant behavioral change as merely moodiness or fatigue.
My fundamental advice in these situations is to always trust your gut. If your child’s behavior leads you to think that something is wrong at school, you may likely be correct. Everyday after school, ask them gentle questions, like “how was your day?” The strategy here is to open the door to conversation. Soon enough, your children will reveal what is bothering them. Many children will clam up and refuse to speak about the issue if you confront them angrily. Most importantly, always assure them of your support and love. This will help them understand that someone is on their side and, in turn, help them open up to you about their struggles.