Jeremy Vine pens emotional letter to boy at centre of shocking bullying video: 'I watched it and saw myself'

'He punched me as hard as you got punched. I had never been hit before. The shock was unbelievable,' the BBC presenter reflects on his own experience of bullying

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Vine has penned a heartfelt letter to a 15-year-old boy who was attacked by teenagers in Romford in east London.

The distressing footage of the boy appearing to be punched to the ground and kicked by boys in a wood was widely shared on social media this week and shocked onlookers.

Vine, a BBC Radio 2 and Crimewatch presenter, explained that he too had been attacked at the same age. He said when he watched the video, he was immediately reminded of himself.

Vine reflected on how his own experience of bullying had damaged his confidence and left him humiliated. In turn, he encouraged the young boy to be true to himself and not fall into the trap of forcing himself to be "hard" to fit in with others.

“Dear Romford 15-year-old - who I’ll call Ben,” Vine wrote in the open letter on his Facebook account. “I don’t know your name, and it’s good that I don’t because I am sure you do not want to be associated with that video of the bullies.”

“Bullies? They are worse than that. I was really shocked by what I saw. Loads of people were disgusted,” he added. “Ben, something similar happened to me. I was a sensitive young teen, always trying and failing to be cool … never athletic enough, never hip enough, a late developer.”

Vine then recounted an incident where he was beaten up for talking to a girl at a party. “He punched me as hard as you got punched. I had never been hit before. The shock was unbelievable - violence does that. I went down immediately just like you".

Vine explained he was left feeling humiliated, with his pride dented and a massive black eye. “So I watched your video and saw myself. That guy who distracted me in 1980 could be the thug who hit you... in 2016 - such a coward,” he said.

Vine concluded by encouraging the young boy to be himself, insisting there was “no shame” in reading poetry and listening to your favourite band and invited him into the BBC Radio 2 studios.

“I tried to be a tough teenager afterwards and closed myself off like a drum,” he reflected. “I reacted to nothing and felt nothing. I especially struggled to tell anyone I loved them because I thought it was a sign of weakness."

The bullying incident Vine's letter refers to is thought to have taken place in Romford in July. Police confirmed the victim was taken to hospital before being discharged. Earlier this week, police charged two 17-year-olds with GBH. They have been bailed to appear at Barkingside Magistrates Court on the 19 October. A third 17-year-old male is on bail.