Thursday, February 21, 2013

Effects of bullying last into adulthood

Effects of Bullying Last Into Adulthood, Study Finds

Great article, with heartbreaking comments. I was bullied in elementary school, and to a lesser extent in high school, but the worse memories are from when I was younger. I'm not surprised that the researchers found that the effects of bullying last into adulthood. In the comments some people in their sixties and seventies have written to testify that the effects of being bullied have lasted their whole lives.

One legacy from being bullied is that I've never believed that people are "inherently good," and that if it weren't for the strictures of society children would grow up unblemished. We all have the capacity within ourselves to be cruel to other people. We need to be taught to regard other people as precious, with valid needs of their own. I think it's a matter of learning that other people are as human as ourselves, and as deserving of care. I don't think we realize this "naturally," since there is a good deal of selfishness in human nature - what the rabbis called the יצר הרע, the inclination to evil.

And if children aren't taught to be kind to each other, because the adults in charge stand back and don't do anything when they are cruel to each other, then how can they learn? In my elementary school, the teachers rarely interfered when children abused other children. This allowed all sorts of horrible behavior to persist. I wanted to transfer to another school but wasn't able to. Things only got better in high school, when I was in a much bigger school and the bullies I had had to deal with 7 or 8 years were outnumbered by the other kids.

On the other hand, there were new kinds of bullying that I saw being inflicted on other students. The first day of freshman year the first year students were basically attacked by the upperclass students, especially freshman boys. Some boys knew this would happen - that the older boys would try to tear their clothes off - and they wore a bathing suit underneath their clothes so they wouldn't end up entirely naked. In later years, the school did try to stop this by having the first year students start school a few days earlier than the upperclass students, but I don't know if it really helped.

After the last day of high school I never saw any of my classmates again, except on rare occasions, nor did I want to. I've never been to a reunion - the thought fills me with horror. From reading the comments on the article, I now know that I'm not alone in this. The effects of being bullied last for a very long time.

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