May 26, 2024

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Success doesn’t erase the scars from bullying, Kristoff knows, and he’s not alone

Success doesn’t erase the scars from bullying, Kristoff knows, and he’s not alone

The consequences of childhood bullying can be felt decades later, showing poignant testimony from Christophe. How do you recover from those scars? “Through treatment I can often let it go.”

John Lelong

Not only did he start his long successful career as a singer with Christophe participating in the View the audio mix. In an interview in this newspaper, he testifies that this show also marked the beginning of the bullying years at school. “I was the odd one out there, weren’t you, because showbiz was immediately associated with homosexuality,” Kristoff says in that interview. Moreover, the Flemish singer who imitated Luke Steno, couldn’t help but be gay. As a kid it was very, very difficult. My every move was controlled, for fear they might think I was fond of boys.”

The 46-year-old singer, known for songs like “A star” and “Seven Sins,” sat home for months due to bullying and eventually changed schools. The singer admits that he still suffers the consequences of that bullying to this day. For example, he still avoids going shopping around four in the afternoon, when school ends.

Christopher.Image © Stefan Timmermann

“When I read the interview, I thought: This is – unfortunately – a typical example of the impact that bullying can have on young people over the years,” says bullying expert J. Depot, Chairman of the Flemish network Choose a Color Against Bullying.

These long-term consequences were also demonstrated in research by the University of Antwerp, Tilburg University and the Open University of Heerlen, which asked more than a thousand young people between the ages of 18 and 25 about their experience with bullying. showed that young people who had been bullied often had a less positive self-image and were more anxious when making new social contacts. A major social problem, if you know that one in five Flemish young people indicated in February that they had been a victim of bullying in the previous months.

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“Bullying has long-term consequences because it affects people who are at the core of who they are,” says Deboutte. “Although bullies often only choose a target, victims get the idea that the bullying behavior has something to do with their personality. They adopt those prejudices or insults from others. These can become scars that will remain forever, even with those who have had good relationships and successful careers.” Years later.”

Also author and the morningColumnist Saskia DeCoster (47) knows that some of the scars caused by bullying are hard to remove. She became a victim of bullying when she changed schools at the end of elementary school. “I was already an outsider at the girls’ school anyway, because I dressed differently. I was also very eager to learn, and argued with the teachers and wrote all the time. Eventually, my best friend started molesting.” It so happened that de Coster found silver paper among her sandwiches, or that basketballs were thrown at her head. But the worst, she felt, was that she wasn’t there for her classmates.

Known author and columnist at

Author and columnist for “De Morgen” Saskia De Coster (47) knows that some of the scars caused by bullying can still be hard to remove.Statue of Thomas Swertweger

Like Christophe, she indicated that this could continue to work today. “On Saturday I was at a party, where I did not know three-quarters of those present. In such situations, I can still easily overcome negative thoughts. ‘Did I do something wrong?’ “Did I say something strange?” Although there is often no reason.

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After the harassment, DeCoster also began to take a tougher stance towards strangers. According to her, therapy helped distance herself from it. “I often tended to want to be very strong, to show that I could do everything on my own. I can react very harshly sometimes. Partly because of therapy, I am now more aware of this, and I can let it go more often.”

Van Lowe's daughter.  Making music was a way to show bullies that something was wrong with me.  VRT image

Van Lowe’s daughter. Making music was a way to show bullies that something was wrong with me.VRT image

In other areas as well, people who have been bullied sometimes develop a kind of assertiveness. For example, singer Bent van Looy has already admitted that he initially threw himself into music to take revenge on bullies in his youth. “Even in Das Pop’s early years, making music was a way to show bullies that something had become of me. Luckily, I was able to let go of that and today I make art just for art’s sake.” talent.

Work with the environment

Those who are being bullied often look for strategies to mitigate the bullying behaviour. With Kristoff, it consisted of self-mockery, hoping to get ahead of the bullies. “This can be a kind of temporary rescue,” DeBot says. “But of course it doesn’t offer a solution, because you’re actually going along with the bully’s behavior and assuring yourself that something is wrong with you.”

So he thinks we shouldn’t focus on the victim’s coping mechanisms – how he deals with the problem. Bullying behavior mainly arises in the toxic environment. It is above all a matter of working on it with the whole environment, from student to student.”

This starts with developing a strong anti-bullying policy, which is also communicated to students and parents. There should also be clear reporting points where students can go. “But it all stands or falls with the teacher’s skills to be able to read the class and intervene in a timely manner if problems arise,” says Deboutte. “The know-how and feel necessary for a class are indispensable. So I am concerned that the current teacher shortage will keep problems under the radar for a long time.”

More information about bullying and what you can do about it can be found at