You may think your child is not a bully because he or she does not pick on others. But do they ignore others? That can be a form of bullying too.

I have spent a few years as a substitute teacher and I have consistently observed the ignored in the room and quite frankly it breaks my heart. So much so that I spent some time writing a little essay based on my observations.

The Ignored Teen

Her alarm goes off, she hits snooze and snuggles in a little deeper, the bed is safe and warm and away from eyes and opinions never uttered, but understood through the silence.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

Heavy sigh … she realizes she has to get up – no matter her desire to remain hermit-like safe. She moves silently through the rooms one enters to ready themselves for the day and then out the door – all the while in silence.

No words of encouragement, no looks of adoration and love, no feeling safe, or even seen, in this world.

The pressure begins to creep its way into her thoughts and take on the physical manifestations that are so apparent but discreetly disregarded.

Her daily prison awaits her and she walks through the school hallways with her head down, her shoulders slumped, conveniently and unduly overlooked. For others to look would require involvement, involvement sometimes gets messy and messy takes precious time. Time is a commodity too few are willing to give.

The sound of laughter and raucous activity fill the hallways, but bounce around her form without penetration, for such revelry is discarded like trash by her.

To see it as unneeded and unwanted is much safer than longing to have that which is never offered.

There are many other young voices skilled and adept at vying for attention and for one who is hiding under a slender bent neck, untrimmed bangs and over sized clothing it is comfortable to remain unnoticed.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but beauty trapped behind antipathy for oneself can never be found because the beholder’s eyes opportunely scan over one who is so easy to ignore and desires to remain unseen.

She feels alone, because she is alone and you are partly to blame if you do not take the time to engage her and ultimately expose her to her own beauty.

Everyday in our schools the ignored teen is there. Are your kids looking for her?

I hope you will discuss with your children the importance of reaching out to other students. Especially those who seem to spend a lot of time alone at school, at church, or anywhere students gather.

Adults who spend time with students need to constantly be on the look out for the unnoticed or the loaners and include them. We need to intentionally encourage others to do the same.