For National Bully Prevention Month, I was fortunate to have interviewed two incredible teenagers, Benjamin and Matthew Royer, who shared their story of what it was like to be bullied.
Benjamin and Matthew Royer shared their feelings, thoughts and words of wisdom on their experiences of being bullied. The information below was from both boys, who provided candid and honest feedback to help other kids, families and educators know what bullying was like for them.
Benjamin and Matthew are actors and identical twins.
Benjamin and Matthew are 15-year old identical twins who began acting when they were just 6 months old. Their first job was playing a baby in the movie The Terminal. When they were 4 years old, they began acting in television shows. After a few years of doing television work, there was a period of time when the boys stopped acting and focused on school and activities such as baseball.
The boys had been going to traditional elementary and middle school up until 10 years old when they were home-schooled.
When they were 13 years old, the twins began getting back into the acting world. “I fell in love with acting when I was really little and I still love it very much,” shared Benjamin. The boys are best known for their roles in Disney’s Best Friends Whatever, ABC’s Back in the Game and Nickelodeon’s 100 Things to Do Before High School.
The boys began experiencing bullying when they were in elementary school.
The boys began experiencing bullying when they were in elementary school. The bullying began with behavior such as trying to split the boys apart, excluding them from social activities and making mean comments. They were frequently criticized and bullied by both kids and adults.
Benjamin and Matthew have suffered from many forms of bullying.
In school, Benjamin and Matthew dealt with relational bullying, when kids would spread rumors, ignore, and make them feel left out. They also experienced verbal bullying from adults on some of the sports teams that they participated in.
Once the boys’ acting careers put them more in the public spotlight, they began to understand what it was like to be cyberbullied. The boys have had several mean comments posted on their social media pages by both kids and adults.
There were times when the boys felt helpless when they were bullied.
Benjamin and Matthew both remember feeling helpless, hurt and confused by how others would treat them in person and on social media. When they were younger, the boys did not understand why others would purposely leave them out or choose one brother over the other. Having adults also bully them made it even more difficult.
They felt there was nothing they could do to stop others from hurting their feelings. They wanted to stop the bullying but felt that they were not able to, which left them feeling very vulnerable at times.
Benjamin and Matthew share how they feel parents can help.
Benjamin and Matthew feel that parents should take time to listen to their kids to understand how they’re feeling. They think that many times parents immediately assume they know how their child is feeling versus giving their child the opportunity to share how they really feel.
Both boys feel that listening is the main thing a parent can do to help a child who is being bullied. They feel that parents should take time to listen to their child’s experience without judging or trying to come up with an instant solution.
What can a parent say to help their child feel heard?
Benjamin and Matthew feel that the most important words a parent can say when they learn their child is being bullied is, “What can I do to help?” and “Help me understand what you are feeling.” Both boys think these are two very powerful statements that can help kids who are being bullied to feel comfortable sharing their feelings.
The boys felt that an individualized program would have helped them get through some of their difficult times with bullying.
Benjamin and Matthew felt that an individualized program like The Empowerment Space would have helped them to better get through some of their difficult times with bullying and to know how to address the situations.
Benjamin and Matthew have moved forward and want to help others.
Both boys learned to handle the negative comments in stride. While they still experience some bullying, they’ve learned not to personalize the mean statements and to not let others define who they are. The boys were a part of Disney/ABC’s Choose Kindness Anti-Bullying Campaign and continue to use their voices in positive ways to help others who are experiencing bullying.