HANCOCK CO. — October is Bullying Prevention Month, and a young girl is telling her story in hopes it doesn’t happen to others.
Bullying can come in many forms — physical, name-calling, being threatened — and for Bella Lazarides, bullying came in the form of exclusion.
“It's not normal to hurt every day, and I thought that it was, but it's not,” said Lazarides, a ninth grader who said since the fifth grade, she noticed she was being left out.
“Picked last for things. I even worked on a 3-person project alone because I was only one. Usually worked with the teachers. No one wanted to talk to me,” said Lazarides.
She said she never told anyone how she was feeling, and the isolation piled up. Eventually, she had thoughts of harming herself.
“You know it's really hard when your child when they get to a point where they say they don't want to live anymore,” said Kim Stancomb, Bella’s mom.
Stancomb said, looking back, there were signs Bella was hurting, but she didn’t think her social child would be left out in a crowd.
“It made me feel like I was really out of touch like I didn't really have a handle on what was going on with her emotionally, and it did come to some serious situations because of it, so we had to work through those, and it was really difficult,” said Stancomb.
Her advice to parents is to recognize isolation and notice when your child isn’t spending time with their friends.
As for Bella, her advice is not to suffer in silence.
“It's hard to talk to people about it, but at some point, it's just going to keep building up, and it's not healthy for it to build up. I mean, it's you just, at some point, you just need to tell someone like it's not going to get better if you just keep on trying to deal with it yourself because it hurts and it's really it's it takes a toll on your mind to try to go through that alone,” said Lazarides.
Bella is taking time out of the classroom, doing online learning through Hoosier Academy to focus on her needs, and gain confidence in herself. She said she hopes to go back to her high school next year.
If your child is dealing with bullying, click here for more resources.