Don’t let the bullies turn you into a loser

 

Share

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.

twitter.com/@katyguest36912

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'