When people see Austin, they see a driven student and athlete. He is a student at Ohio Virtual Academy. Austin does well in school and has his sights set on the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. What they might not see, however, is that Austin is a survivor of bullying. Unfortunately, his experiences are not all that unique. About one in five students between the ages of 12 and 18 are victims of bullying each year.
But thanks to his positive mindset, Austin has been able to use his experiences as a survivor of bullying to help him grow as a person. For four years, he was around the same peers and had his core group of friends. People knew him, and he got along with other students. However, things changed when he entered a new school. “I went into a new school where five different schools were put together. It was a whole new environment for me,” he said. In this new environment, Austin said that many students stayed away from him because of the fact that he had one arm, and other students didn’t want to be around someone who looked different.
At first, Austin focused on the injustice of his circumstances and said that he asked himself why he was the one who had to deal with this issue. That’s changed since he adopted a new outlook, though. “It’s become a blessing,” he said. His experiences being bullied have helped to build his character because they made him realize that he was in control of his own thoughts. For people who are being bullied, he recommended surrounding themselves with people who can “help you clear your head” by and get rid of negative thoughts.
Austin’s intuition about adopting a more positive mindset is aligned with research that’s been done on this issue. According to research from 2017, positive thinking can improve a person’s ability to cope with bullying by replacing negative self-talk with positive personal affirmations. “People who have a great mindset can’t be stopped by anything,” Austin said.
To help raise awareness of the pressing and startling issue of bullying, Stride, Inc. is partnering with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center and STOMP Out Bullying™ to launch a new bullying prevention initiative. Follow us on social media to find out how you can help put an end to bullying.