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The Globe and Mail

Half of Canadian adults were bullied in school - were you?

If you still remember being pushed around on the playground or viciously taunted by classmates, join the club: A new survey has found that half of all Canadian adults were bullied when they were in school. And as the research grows on the long-term impact of bullying – on self-esteem and mental health – the survey also reports that one-third of those same adults believed the abuse they suffered as kids had a lasting effect.

But far from considering a bully's torment a right of passage, Canadian overwhelmingly want – and expect – something to be done. The survey, conducted by Harris/Decima for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) and posed to about 1,000 adult Canadian last month, found that 95 per cent felt people "have a responsibility to take action" to stop bullies. As well, 89 per cent felt that bullying poses a "serious threat to the long term well-being of children and teenagers." And about two-thirds of adults who had been bullied said they would have benefited from having an adult mentor at the time.

"Our experience in working with kids and teenagers who have been bullied is that common side effects are low self-confidence and poor self-esteem," Bruce MacDonald, BBBSC president and chief executive officer, told The Globe and Mail. "If no one is there to help, these negative traits can make it hard for young people to achieve success and happiness in their later years."

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Mr. MacDonald suggests that one way to reduce bullying is to expand in-school volunteer mentoring so that both the bullied and their tormentors have an adult to seek out for support. "This type of mentoring also helps identify bullies, so they can be counselled and swayed away from abusive behaviours," he said.

"One thing is quite clear, as long as people hold the view that bullying is just part of life, large numbers our children and teenagers will continue to suffer."

If you were bullied as a child, do you still feel the effects of that experience? What do you think would have helped you?

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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