Throughout history, humans have searched for love and acceptance, secure attachment and strong relationships. Along the way, many don’t learn how to develop healthy relationships with ourselves and others. This leaves most of us to live with many unmet needs we keep trying to satisfy. These silent yet real human needs left unmet have created serious problems in our schools in the form of bullying. Daily, we are confronted with those who bully and those who are victims (and sometimes both). Ask any school counselor, teacher, parent or student, and you will find many examples of how damaging the bullying culture is on our youth and the adults they become. Let’s briefly look at some relevant information about bullying, risk factors for being bullied, and ways school counselors can address bullying in schools.
Although most of us know that bullies and victims alike are struggling to find acceptance, friendship, and interpersonal value, it is often hard to assess how widespread the problem of bullying is. According to the website – stopbullying.gov – 49% of students in grades 4-12 report being bullied by other students at school at least one time in the last month and 30.8% of students reported bullying at the same time, and only 20-30% of bullied students notify adults about the bullying. School counselors and other faculty can help – according to studies, when bystanders get involved, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57 % of the time!
Listed below are some of the risk factors that can increase students’ risk of being bullied:
Being perceived as different from peers, such as wearing glasses or different clothing than the norm, being under or overweight, or being unable to afford what peers consider “cool.” Being perceived as unable to defend oneself or weak. Being viewed as less popular/having few friends. Having limited social skills or ones perceived as annoying or provoking for attention.
What can a school counselor do to help stop bullying?
Help students understanding of what bullying is, that it is unacceptable, how to stand up to it and how to get help. Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with students who are at risk often, listen, and, if they don’t open up, ask! Encourage kids to find and do something they love to create resilience. Model how to treat others with kindness and respect at all times, including how to treat students.
Get the tools you need to address bullying in schools. A free school anti-bullying program is downloadable from www.eyes onbullying.org/toolkit.html
The website cited above -- stopbullying.gov – has free information about how to address bullying in schools and the community, in addition to many other resources aimed at reducing or eliminating bullying.
As a school counselor, you are on the front lines of these challenges and you have a unique ability to influence your students, your peers and your community! South Austin Counseling Services, LLC, is ready to help if and when you need it. If you need support from us, whether we can help by speaking to your PTA, faculty, or providing professional counseling support, please contact us at 512.280.5315.