Betty Wittels, L.P.C., has been a psychotherapist for 37 years. Besides co-founding a shelter for runaways she worked for Juvenile Corrections for 32 years. She still maintains a private practice in Tucson, Arizona.
She talks to NoBullying.com about the increase in bullying and cyberbullying.
Is bullying as big an issue today as it was say 10 years ago?
No, it has drastically increased. 10 years ago bullying of students by students for example took place on the way to school, in school, and on the way home. Although schools have put an “Anti Bullying policy” in place, it is not effective once the students leave the school. It appears to be even worse in adult life where there is no such policy and people are subjected to their bullies without any sort of protection.
Do you see a difference in how bullying happens today – for example social media, mobile phones?
Technology has opened the door for endless Bullying and CyberBullying. The affected students are tormented on social websites, such as Facebook basically 24/7. People have been driven into committing suicide because of constant public humiliation due to websites set up for this sole purpose. Cellphones/Smartphones provide access around the clock which enables bullies to continuously pursue their victims.
With current media coverage on Bullying and CyberBullying is the situation improving?
It is very difficult to predict the further development on this matter. It might discourage some bullies from pursuing their victims further but give others new ideas on how to intensify their actions against chosen subjects even more.
Have you knowledge of any severe cases and consequences of Bullying and Cyberbullying?
No, I have had no clients with this particular issue.
What is the best advice to give a person who is being bullied?
Speak up. Don’t be silent and let it happen. Reach out for help and let others know what is being done to you. If the victim is a child or adolescent, it is important to openly communicate to the parent what is going on. It is even more important for the parent to notice changes in their children such as signs of depression, pulling away, keeping more and more to themselves, etc. and to question why those changes occur. A strong parent-child relationship is the key to prevent the worst from happening. If there is no responsive parent than any authority adult will be just as powerful a resource. Many bullies were bullied or ignored by a parent, also.
Is there likely to be long term effects on people who are Bullied?
Yes. Most people who have been bullied as a child have a higher risk of being depressed, angry, bitter, incapable of forming meaningful relationships, suicidal, low self-esteem, lack of living up to their full potential, just to mention a few.
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