Lately I have been reading a lot of articles and some books on the subject of cyberbullying. Bullying has unfortunately always been part of human existence. But the last ten to twenty years it has become worse.

When I was growing up bullying was a problem but at least it happened mostly in isolated places, school, kids in the street, clubs. But at least most kids felt safe when they went home. Cyberbullying has unfortunately changed all that.

I watched an impressive movie a few weeks ago called “Odd girl out” in which a girl was so heavily cyberbullied she tried to kill herself. She was bullied on the internet and through mobile phone. It most be an incredibly hard life if you do not feel safe anywhere. If you never know how and when you will be attacked next.

It is extremely important that parents, teachers and other important adults in a child’s life take what is happening seriously and offer moral support. Schools should have an anti-bullying policy and really stick to it.  Standing by and doing nothing when kids are bullied is so wrong.De laatste tijd heb ik veel gelezen over cyberbullying [cyberpesten]. Pesten is helaas van alle tijden. Maar in mijn ogen is het de laatste tien tot twintig jaar veel erger geworden.

Toen ik opgroeide was pesten natuurlijk ook al een probleem. Maar het gebeurde toch meer op geïsoleerde plaatsen. Op school, kinderen op straat, verenigingen. De meeste kinderen voelden zich veilig als ze thuis kwamen. Het cyberpesten heeft dat helaas allemaal veranderd.

Een paar weken geleden het ik een indrukwekkende film gezien “Odd girl out” Waarin een meisje zo hevig gecyberpest word dat ze zelfmoord probeert te plegen. Ze werd gepest op het internet en mobiele telefoon. Wat een ontzettend hard leven als je je nergens meer veilig kunt voelen. Als je nooit weet wanneer en waar je weer aangevallen word.

Het is enorm belangrijk dat ouders, leraren en andere belangrijke volwassenen in het leven van een kind het pesten serieus nemen en morele steun bieden. Scholen horen een anti-pest protocol te hebben en zich daar ook strikt aan the houden. Niets doen terwijl kinderen gepest worden is geen optie!

Why am I mentioning bullying here?

Highly sensitive children are an easier target for bullies. Because they are sensitive what is said and done to them will make more impact. And some of them will not know how to defend themselves.

In my graduation thesis I asked adults if they were willing to tell me if they had been bullied as children and if they thought being bullied affected them as adults. I asked if they thought it affected them mentally and/or physically.

I was shocked at the sheer numbers who responded that they had indeed been bullied for one or more years during primary and secondary school. And even more shocked that more than 80% of those having been bullied said it still affected them.

Some symptoms were finding it hard to trust others, lower self esteem. But many also mentioned that they thought that physical problems they developed later in life had to do with the stresses they were under as a child.

Being under constant stress is not good for a body. It needs much more research but there might well be a link between stress in childhood like bullying and pain problems in later life.

If you recognise something in the above, it is never too late to seek help and to find closure for the past. Talking about it and giving it a place does help. And you would not be the only one who has been bullied.

For kids being bullied right now. Don’t go it alone. Tell teachers, parents and/or other adults you trust what is going on. An you can find support online. There are support groups so you don’t have to go this alone.

If anyone wants to share their story, feel free to comment.

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