NEW pencil case, new uniform, new allencompassing fear that your life is about to become a lonely, social misery. Yup, it can only be the beginning of another school year.
A recent poll by ITV’s This Morning revealed that a third of pupils have been the victim of bullying and, understandably, 48 per cent therefore dread the return to school.
That’s a depressing thought. Sadly, getting older and moving into the adult world doesn’t always mean an end to bullying either. In all walks of life, there are people desperate to cut you down, smash your selfesteem and to generally rejoice in being mean.
And, however much you might think you’ve grown up, or however much you recite the same “they’re just jealous” mantra that your mum told you as a teen, does facing a bully ever get easier?
Here are five grown-up bullies that we all need to avoid.
The school gate bully
APPARENTLY, the school run instils so much fear in some mothers, nine per cent refuse to do it, and even those who do brave it are terrified – one in ten admitted to hating the school run, one fifth witnessed other mothers being bullied at the school gates and 31 per cent said that collecting their children made them feel as though they were back at school themselves.
Needless to say, it doesn’t stop at the school gates either. There’s the over-demanding PTA controller, the pushy school fete organiser, the one who likes to remind you at any given opportunity that their family’s a bit better than yours…
The office bully
THE carefully-timed criticism in front of your boss; the huddled meeting that hushes as you walk past; the “let’s go out for lunch” chats made pointedly in front of you, only for them to later leave for said lunch while you’re in the loos.
Yes, most of us don’t need to watch The Devil Wears Prada to know the grind-you-down horror of an office bully; a survey a few years ago revealed that one in ten of us already knows – and suffers at the hands of – one. If you’re one of those ten per cent, don’t suffer in silence; talk to a colleague you trust or speak to your HR department.
The baby bully
YOU’VE just had a baby and you’re already terrified and exhausted.
Then come the breastfeeding tsars, raging and wailing that unless you do things “as nature intended”, you’re a terrible mother and your child is doomed to ill health and failure. However nice it would be to ignore them, 41 per cent of women in a poll last year admitted they couldn’t, and said the pressure to breastfeed made them feel isolated and guilty.
The gym bully
IF you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to try a new gym class and sit on “the wrong bike” or settle in “the wrong corner”, you’ll know exactly who the gym bully is.
They’re not particularly fit, they’re not particularly fast, but they are very particular about “their bike/ corner”, and believe that attending the same class at the same time for the past five years gives them squatters’ rights. It doesn’t, obviously, it’s first-come-first-served, but good luck pointing this out.
The online bully
BEHIND social media’s shiny photographs, pithy jokes and cute animal videos, lies the inevitable dark and seedy underworld of “trolling”.
At last count, nearly 9,000 people had been convicted or given police cautions for such cyber-bullying in just four years. And yes, a large number of the internet trolls we read about in the news are teens attacking teens, often tragically driving them to suicide. But the high-profile Mary Beard/Caroline Criado-Perez/Stella Creasy incidents prove that it’s also just as much adults attacking adults.