What Role Do School Counselors Play in Addressing Bullying?

Though the impact of bullying is underestimated by some, it can be one of the most serious obstacles that students have in their academic careers. Nearly half of all students between the 4th and 12th grade experience bullying on a semi-frequent to frequent basis, but school counselors can provide a vital form of support.

Bullying occurs in distinct forms, and in order to control for all of them, a school counselor will need to familiarize themselves with the most common ways that it manifests. Depending on the degree of experience that a school counselor has with various forms of bullying, some will be better-suited to address certain types of bullying incidents than others. No matter what kind of bullying a school counselor may be most naturally adept at addressing, all competent school counselors can work to help students keep bullying from disrupting their lives.

Differentiating Bulling Types And Determining The Scale

The first step in a school counselor's task to address bullying is to identify the particular type of bullying occurring. Depending on what kind of bullying a student is dealing with, the measures can be taken to address the situation will vary. In general, there are three distinct forms of bullying that tend to manifest the most commonly:

Physical bullying can range from mild shoving the full-on attacks. Verbal bullying consists of name calling, harassment, and overt emotional abuse through persistent mockery. The most concerning of all forms of bullying has been consistently reported to be relational bullying, which is the intentional manipulation of a student's social standing through exclusion or rumors. Relational bullying tends to be the most passive and difficult type of bullying to detect.

The three core forms of bullying above, though distinct, can occasionally overlap. Certain forms of bullying can be harder to pick up one at a glance, which makes it imperative for school counselors to be able to develop a relationship with students that encourages comfortable and full disclosure.

All forms of bullying have the potential to impact students in profoundly negative ways, though unless the bullying directly observed, these situations can be difficult to address. In order for a school counselor to have the best window of insight into whether or not a certain form bullying is occurring, they need to develop a clear point of reference on the the student body's overall social network. Getting to know the student body's social culture will allow counselors to understand what which cliques may have the highest potential concentration relational bullying.

Taking Action

Once school counselors have identified that a certain type of bullying is occurring, the measures that they can take will vary. While a school counselor cannot directly intervene in bullying to the extent of physical involvement, scenarios that call for significant intervention can be addressed by getting in touch with the parents of students and requesting their assistance in reaching the offender.

Oftentimes it will take a combined effort from the counselor and the families of all students involved in order to reach a resolution. While the most dire physical and verbal bullying incidents may be resolved by requesting the intervention of the authorities, the more subtle bullying incidents pose the greatest challenges. Whatever the best solution to a bullying situation may be, school counselors will be most capable of finding it by keeping all windows of communication constantly open.

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