"I have a concern about someone in my class."

Question

Hello, i have a concern about someone in my class but im not sure how to deal with this. So this girl... shes very quiet, never says a word (ive never heard her speak before, ever.), and she sits in the back corner of the class. No one ever talks to her, she has a bad reputation.. everyone makes fun of her and talks about her behind her back.. but no one has ever had a conversation with her. So today, i happened to look at her at the exact same time she looked at me... and as soon as she realized i looked at her, she quickly turned away.. she looked so sad and all the rumors people said about her suddenly vanished from my mind and i felt bad for her.. i noticed a big bruise on her neck/shoulder.. it looks really bad.. i dont know if the rest is covered or not, she had a big hoodie on so the bruise was hidden.. im scared she might be abused (shes a year younger than me btw) but i could be wrong. but theres that "if" in the back of my mind... i mean, i dont know her so i cant just assume these things.... please give me advice on what i should do.

Answer from counsellor

Thank you for reaching out to talk about this. It sounds like you are worried for this person even though you’ve never spoken to her or interacted with her much. The fact that you're worried about someone you don't know and are trying to figure out what to do to help her shows some real compassion, which is really great. It can be difficult to see a person through stories and rumors we've heard about them sometimes, but despite those things they still deserve care and support. I wonder: aside from the bruise you saw, are there any specific rumors about this girl that make you worried for her safety? I really wish we were talking about this on the phone so I could get a better understanding of what kind of things you’re hearing about her and how you feel about it. I wonder what kind of things people say, and if you’ve ever been involved in talking about her or making fun of her in the past, and if so how you might like to change how you talk about her in the future… A bruise could be from any number of things, but if you ever see anything that makes you feel worried for someone else’s safety it can be a good idea to tell someone about it. Writing in to tell us about it was a good first step – who do you think you would be able to tell next? Is there a teacher at school you are close with, or who this girl is close with? If so maybe one of them could gently approach her to see how she is doing. If you can't think of a teacher, who else could you go to about this that you feel safe with and who you would trust would want to help? Telling a teacher or other adult who could get involved doesn’t mean you’re assuming she is being abused, it just means you’re being cautious. When safety is involved it is important to take any potential risk seriously, just in case. If you wanted you could also try to talk to her directly yourself, though I would encourage you to get to know her a little bit before you ask about the bruise (otherwise she might not trust you enough yet to really hear your concerns). If you did choose to talk to her you might find some of the information in our Helping a Friend section useful: kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/InfoBooth/Violence-and-Abuse/Family-abuse/Helping-a-friend.aspx. I imagine not having anyone to talk to would be lonely, and it probably wouldn’t encourage her to go out and make friends if a lot of people are spreading rumors about her… I bet she would appreciate a friendly face getting to know her, if that’s something you would be interested in. :) Dealing with the worry that can come from situations like this can be intense so I want to encourage you to take time to take care of yourself through all of this, too. Remember you don’t need to figure out and deal with this all on your own, and if you ever need some extra support or space to talk about it we are here for you 24/7 by phone at 1-800-668-6868. Give all of this some thought, and if you want to talk some more we are only a phone call or click away!