There’s a new word to describe a certain type of bully who spreads fear in middle and high schools, and even in college “frienemy.” “It’s someone, usually a girl, who acts like your best friend, but at the same time belittles and intimidates you,” says Karyn Westrick, director of counseling services at the University of Findlay.
Westrick, along with Jamie Fell of Lutheran Social Services and Mary Burget, a counselor at Findlay High School, presented information on bullying recently at the Findlay-Hancock Public Library. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) hosted the event.
“Bullying isn’t just conflict,” said Fell in her portion of the program. “It exists because of an imbalance of power. Bullying is intentional and can be physical, verbal and psychological.”
Fell, who provides counseling services to young clients, said that most children and adolescents feel that if they report incidents of bullying, it will just get worse. This feeling of “no one can help me” often leads to hopelessness, depression and anxiety. In extreme cases it can even lead to suicide.
Sounding the alarm
As a guidance counselor at a large high school, Mary Burget stated that she feels bullying often goes unreported. Although Findlay High School recorded six incidences of bullying behavior last year, she agreed that some students won’t report intimidation and harassment because of fear of it just getting worse. Burget credits the high school’s annual Challenge Day with addressing bullying along with many other adolescent issues. “Challenge Day is a full-day experience that really makes an impact on the kids,” she adds. “We get great feedback from both our students and adult volunteers every year.”
Parents who suspect or know that their child is being bullied should encourage the child to open up. Individual or family counseling can also be very helpful. For info on programs available through Lutheran Social Services call 419-422-7917. (You do not need to be of the Lutheran faith to receive services.)