By Angela Casco
Janina Vela, teen vlogger and the first Youtube Creators for Change ambassador from the Philippines, candidly shares her painful experiences being bullied as a kid. Her story fits the online positivity campaign called #LovePhilippines with Youtube, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and social change agency Love Frankie.
During difficult times, her family is her biggest support system. Here’s how she and her parents deal with bullying, and how you can do the same.
Love and encourage your kids.
Kids who get bullied often find it hard to open up to their parents. Janina remembers being secretive to her parents about the bullying and the anxiety attacks that it caused. “Not telling my parents right away was my biggest mistake,” she shares. “I realized how much I needed even just a prayer from my dad, words of encouragement like, ‘I love you, anak. I’m always here for you,’ or just to know that what the haters were saying is not true. My mom’s embrace meant so much to me at the time.” Giving the kind of love and support only you as a parent can provide could well make all the difference.
Teach them to be tolerant and forgiving.
Fighting hate with tolerance and forgiveness is out of the ordinary, especially online. However, the 19-year-old vlogger thinks teaching kids these traits help in dealing with the negativity. “They’re firing their guns but you can choose to make them empty bullets. You can choose not to let them hurt you at all,” she says. “Even though they won’t apologize, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t make them right. Forgiveness sets you free.”
Tell them to hear and not listen.
Janina didn’t know it before but she wishes she never let the hurtful comments sink in. “There’s a difference between hearing and listening. I could hear all these bad things but I don’t necessarily have to listen. After all, what others are saying about you isn’t true,” she says. Telling your kids to filter what they take to heart may help.
Youtube Creators for Change is a global initiative for creators to tackle social issues and promote awareness, tolerance, and empathy through their videos and the platform.