I was bullied throughout primary school. I have always been a very socially awkward person - I can never seem to say the right thing to the right people. That's why I like this forum a lot - I can take time to go over what I want to say, and edit to make sure I get my point across. I am much better at communicating via the written/typed word than in real life. As such, I have never been cyber-bullied, as I am much better equipped to respond. I have no head for conflict - if insulted face to face, about all I can retort with is "Yeah? Well... You're DUMB!"
I used to wet my pants in the early years of primary school. I don't think there is much out there that can be worse for a child's self esteem than this. Not only was I very shy, a manic reader (read: nerd), but I also had this issue that I couldn't conrtol and was ridiculed for.
If my mother had of said to me 'Toughen up and get over it' I probably would have run away from home. It would have done a great deal of damage to our relationship. While we often clash in other aspects of life, she always supported me through that time.
Honestly - What brought me through it was horses (Along with other animals - namely dogs). I started having riding lessons when I was five, was working as a junior staff when I was 9, and leased my first horse at 10. Around horses, I was confident, in control - I didn't feel intimidated. I could understand these creatures - They were honest. They didn't make snide remarks, lie, say things behind your back. They were upfront and transparent.
I never grew out of my shyness and insecurity. I still harbour a great fear of calling people on the phone and meeting new people. All I learnt was to hide it - To laugh off any hurtful remarks. I still felt them, but it helped take away the satisfaction the bullies got from it.
I actually went through Primary school, high school and college with some of them. Funny - As I got older, more confident, and (not to sound arrogant) more attractive, some of the boys actually tried to turn around and be friends. Needles to say I wanted nothing to do with them.
Nowadays - I just stay quiet. I have no friends at my workplace, and while not bullied, do feel quite ostracized and have been on the end of some blatant rudeness and 'cliquey-ness'. I'm like a different person in my work life compared to my riding life. It's part of the reason I ride/compete so much - I can relate to horse people. My only good friends are horsey people.
I think part of the problem is that i'm very critical - I see things I don't like in most people, and try not to be like that myself.
My boyfriend is about the only non-horsey peerson I see regularly. He is much more confident and outgoing than me, but is the same, not very social. I really only get along well with one of his friends who I went to school with - I desperately want to get along with the others but again, tend to stay silent as I never say the right thing when we aren't talking about horses.
Oops, that went a bit OT... But basically, bullying can have far-reaching consequences. I have no doubt that I would be a very different person today if I hadn't been bullied. Being told to toughen up may work for some children/people - But it will make it worse for just as many. If a child is feeling depressed and suicidal, as many victims of bullying do, then being told anything like that will often be enough to tip them over the edge. Love and understanding are the qualities that help you through.