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‘United against bullying’: bullying doesn’t end after high school

CW: suicide

It’s happened to the best of us. We’ve placed a pair of socks carefully into the washing machine drum, only to return an hour later and find that, mysteriously, only one sock has made it through the cycle. Well, this Anti-Bullying Week, it’s that remaining sock’s time to shine.

On Monday, young people all over the UK sported odd socks to stand in solidarity with those who have experienced bullying. Through their unique sock pairings, they celebrated individuality and diversity in the face of adversity.

This time last year, international charity Ditch The Label reported that of 2000 young Brits surveyed, a fifth expressed that they had been bullied. Half of the victims attributed their development of depression to this verbal, virtual, and physical abuse, with a heart-breaking two-thirds admitting that they believed their appearances were the cause of such treatment. 33% were left with suicidal thoughts. 

Appallingly, one fourteen-year-old boy stated that, ‘I go to school and get bullied. Go home and online and still get bullied. I can’t ever escape it.’ This sense of entrapment is as persistent as it is universal, with seven of the last DTL annual surveys showing much of the same results. Something must change.

Which is why, this Anti-Bullying Week, it’s important to be kind to those around us. It might seem that Edinburgh students are past the age of being affected by bullying, but this is a chimera. Homophobia, sexism, racism, and transphobia (as well as many other forms of bullying) are still present and thriving within the university. Just last year, The Student covered a story about antisemitism on campus, after an Edinburgh undergrad found ‘the Jews control us’ scrawled onto a Chrystal Macmillan Building wall. Just last month, an article was published by Edinburgh Live accusing a Veterinary School Dean of manufacturing a ‘culture of extreme fear’ that has led to anguished staff members quitting their jobs.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the power we have as a unified collective. Amidst the past year’s constant onslaught of sickening pandemic stats, we saw an eruption of stories about random acts of kindness and strangers helping strangers. A 99-year-old war veteran raised £15 million for the NHS. In Italy and Spain, people clambered onto balconies and rooftops to lift their communities’ spirits with operatic recitals and percussion performances. Celebrities went ham on producing free workout videos, cooking classes, and even unsolicited covers of soft-rock classics (lest we forget Gal Gadot’s star-studded sing-along to ‘Imagine’, which, whilst not necessarily well-received, at least provided comic relief from the apocalyptic rhetoric of the news).  

So, for those struggling with bullying, just know that there are always people that can help. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Email the Student Association’s Advice Place (advice@eusa.ed.ac.uk) or call 0131 507 0815 to book a Teams appointment. Register with the Student Counselling Service (SCS) by filling out the online self-referral form available on Edinburgh’s SCS web page.

Other numbers to call for crisis support are:

  • The Samaritans (24/7 service): 116 123
  • Edinburgh Crisis Centre (24/7 service): 080
  • NHS 24: 111
  • Breathing Space (evenings and weekends service, providing confidential calls for anyone feeling depressed or anxious): 0800 838587
  • Mental Health Assessment Service (24/7 service): 0131 537 6000

You aren’t alone and you shouldn’t have to feel like it. 

Image: Molly Workman