What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? Well, not when it comes to bullying.
Some may still consider bullying a harmless part of growing up, but mounting evidence suggests that the adverse effects of being bullied aren’t something kids can just shake off.
I can’t say I’ve ever considered bullying a harmless part of growing up. I didn’t have to think about it very hard when I was growing up, because there wasn’t any to speak of in my school. It was a tiny school, so it just wasn’t the kind of setting where bullying could go unnoticed. But I can’t recall ever thinking of it as some little thing that doesn’t matter, or is even healthy. It’s strange that anyone thinks of it that way. Bad things are bad.
People need to shift their thinking on bullying, Copeland says, from considering it a “harmless rite of passage” to “this kind of critical childhood experience that can really change one’s trajectory for decades and decades.”
Who thinks of it as a harmless rite of passage? What a callous idea.
Bullying is somewhat different today from what it was in the ’60s — cyberbullying on the Internet has extended its reach. Copeland says the concept remains the same: singling out a weaker person as the target for repeated intentional harm. It’s just that the abuse is no longer confined to schools and playgrounds, he says. It can happen in the no-longer-safe haven of a child’s home.
Or an adult’s.
Victims need some place where they can get away from the abuse and feel safe, Copeland tells Shots. “As you lose that, as you’re getting teased constantly, that can lead people to have much worse outcomes, and to feel like there’s really no way they can escape.
“As we see more and more studies like this,” Copeland says, “I think people are going to be more and more comfortable thinking of bullying in the same way we think of [other sorts of] maltreatment in childhood — as something that’s just not tolerated.”
Can we think of it that way for adults too? Starting right now?