Don’t let the bullies turn you into a loser



I thought that I remembered every tiny detail about anybody who ever tormented me at school, until one of them popped up online recently, still banging on about my wrong accent and my stupid hair. She’d seen me on the BBC, she said, and I hadn’t changed a bit since she first took against me in Year 10. I was surprised. I’ve not only changed my hair colour and aged 25 years, but I no longer hide in corners reading books to escape. Instead, I talk about books on national television. This person, on the other hand, appeared not to have moved on at all. I am not sorry to say that I couldn’t remember a thing about her.

I was genuinely shocked, therefore, when I heard the results of a new report from the Institute of Psychiatry, which studied 7,771 people over 40 years and found that those who were bullied at school were worse off as adults. People who had been bullied as children had poorer physical and mental health, lower levels of employment and life satisfaction, and increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. “The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with … consequences lasting well into adulthood,” said the report’s author.

Bullying at any age is hard to get over. It may not leave physical scars – shoving, hair-pulling, taunting, threatening and humiliation don’t – but the psychological damage can be immense. It’s easy to be persuaded that you must deserve it. But interestingly, the IoP study found that: “The harmful effect of bullying remained even when other factors, including childhood IQ, emotional and behavioural problems, parents’ socio-economic status and low parental involvement, were taken into account.” In other words, the bullies don’t just spot life’s losers and give them a hard time; they can actually create a loser out of almost anyone. As it said in one of the novels that I read and reread as I hid from my daily spit bomb: “Continual dropping will wear away a stone – nay, a diamond.”

I was one of the lucky ones, and succeeded partly to spite my bullies. As another author put it: a happy life is the best revenge. But I had the support of two brilliant parents and a handful of teachers who made school tolerable by helping me to see a life beyond it. Others don’t have that. “Forty years is a long time,” says the report, “so there will no doubt be additional experiences during the course of these young people’s lives which may either protect them against the effects of bullying, or make things worse. Our next step is to investigate what these are.”

That next investigation will be the important one. Until it is published, anyone being bullied must only selectively believe the results of this current study, ignore its frightening conclusion and take it from one who knows: no, being bullied is not your fault; yes, it is bloody awful; but, no, it need not ruin the rest of your life, too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London