Cyber bullying rising: Kids Help Phone counselor

By Andrea Iseman
Off-Campus News Editor
Published: December 11, 2008

cyber bullyingOnline bullying has joined more traditional forms in school.

With the advent of the internet, Kids Help Phone is seeing an increase in calls regarding cyber bullying, both from bullies themselves as well as those who are bullied.

“The majority of the times [kids] are looking for ideas and strategies to deal with the issue,” says a Kids Help Phone counselor who wishes to remain anonymous. “For example the kids who are being bullied may express their fears around what it feels like to be bullied.”

Kids are calling into the line now more than ever, because bullying is not just taking place in the classroom, where help is more easily accessible.

Kids Help Phone chooses to give callers a model called brief solution therapy, which the counselor said focuses on the solution, not the problem.

“If [kids] are ready to talk strategies that is great, but a lot of kids call and they just want to talk about how they are feeling and are not interested in strategies just yet.”

Dannette Graham, president of the Canadian Association of Psychoanalytic Child Therapists, said cyber bullying is just one example of how bullying has evolved.

“Ten, 20 years ago it was just rough-housing and boys do that,” she said. “Now it is physical, verbal threats, kicking kids out of a social circle. Our definition of what is normal has changed.”

Graham has been in the field for 24 years as a therapist working with families and children and the last 18 years as a child therapist. She said bullying affects all types of children and is not limited to just boys or girls, although boys and girls usually bully differently.

Sarah Chana Radcliffe, member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario and a therapist in private practice for 30 years, agrees.

“Girls do a lot more ostracism and exclusion. They are just not going to call you and play with you and will drop you as friends,” said Radcliffe. “Boys tend to use more physical threats, pushing, shoving, intimidating and hurting.”

Therapists say their role is to guide children to help them understand why and how things happen to them. Bullies need such guidance as well but don’t always seek it.

“I see fewer bullies because the bullies aren’t usually the ones who have the problem,” said Radcliffe. “The victim is also experiencing the problem and comes in for help more frequently.”

National Bullying Awareness Week  runs November 16-22.

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