ACA Blog

Maureen Werrbach
Feb 28, 2011

The New Age of Bullying

The issue isn’t new, yet the subject of bullying has been brought into awareness recently as a major concern among children and adolescents. No longer is bullying expressed through means such as physical fighting, gossip, intimidation, social exclusion, note passing, and threatening looks, but through various channels like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, E-mail, text messages, instant messages and other social networking sites.



Many patients that I assess are adolescents struggling with anxiety or depression, have an eating disorder, are engaging in self injury, are abusing or dependent on drugs/alcohol, or are struggling with school anxiety or school refusal. When a patient comes in with a presenting issue of school refusal or school anxiety, one of the questions I touch upon is bullying. I have found that one of the main culprits for school related problems is bullying. Unfortunately, by the time adolescents come in for treatment, many of them have become truant in school, have physical complaints such as upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches while in school, panic attacks, paranoid thoughts, crying, and multiple visits to the school counselor on days of attendance. They have become numb, feel hopeless about change, and feel alone.

Maybe it’s because of my familiarity with bullying back in the day, but I have a particularly soft spot for those who’ve fallen victim to bullying. The sad thing is, is that these kids who prey on others don’t understand how their actions affect those that are bullied, not just at that moment, but forever. We forget many things about our childhood, but we all can remember the name of that girl or boy that made fun of us when we were younger. Memories of childhood bullying stay in our minds as clear as if it were just yesterday. It changes a person. I have met with dozens of adults, men and women, who are in a state of depression or anxiety. During the assessments, I am frequently told that their experiences with peers during childhood and adolescence have negatively shaped who they are now.

Has bullying always been the problem that it is today, or are we better able to recognize it and confront the issue? Are schools becoming more adept in providing children with more awareness, intervention, and prevention to bullying? My husband is an 8th grade teacher and is confronted daily by students regarding situations involving bullying. It’s disheartening, unfortunate, and unhealthy. What can we as counselors do to help?



Maureen Werrbach is a counselor who works at a hospital and provides clinical assessments in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.

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