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The Role of School Counselors in Preventing Bullying


Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, depression, anxiety, sleep, and eating disorders, decreased academic success to name a few – these are all effects of bullying at school. Not only do negative outcomes of such behavior affect the bullied, but the witnesses and bullies as well. Children who fall victim to such abuse and fail to take appropriate action are very likely to feel the aftermath in their adult life. Bullies themselves nurture this violent behavior which is a downward spiral that can lead to criminal activity. Bystanders are often afraid or ashamed to step up, and the guilt they keep bottled up often results in serious mental and health issues. All children have the right to make the most out of the opportunities given and thrive in a healthy environment.

Know your bully
But does a child really know what to do to make this problem go away? The first step, of course, is teaching children how to recognize bullying. Classroom guidance designed to raise awareness about the types of bullying and strategies to reduce it will help students identify and react to inappropriate behavior. The first thing that needs to be learned is how to identify a bully - a bully is someone who has the intent to harm, repeatedly, and will always target victims weaker than themselves.

Now that we know the pattern, we have to raise awareness about the types of bullying that takes place on school grounds. Children might primarily associate it with physical abuse, but it is hardly the only form we should be wary of. More subtle forms, like verbal, social and cyberbullying can do as much harm to a young individual. Name calling, for instance, may appear harmless at the beginning, but it can quickly escalate to harsh insults, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks thus turning into severe verbal abuse. Social or covert bullying is maybe the hardest one to recognize since its purpose is to harm someone’s social reputation and very often cause humiliation.

In this modern day and age, special attention needs to be paid to cyberbullying. The combination of hardware such as mobile phones or computers and software like all interactive online content makes an ideal environment for cyber bullies. They will sometimes attack in public, other times in private, spreading nasty rumors or even steal someone’s identity. Once you recognize any type of this kind of behavior, it is imperative to seek advice on what to do next.
 
Your counselor is here to help
Children are often reluctant to seek help, thinking it will make them appear weak and even more of an outcast. They are afraid it will trigger an avalanche of even worse maltreatment, so they suffer in silence thinking that if they close their eyes their problems will eventually go away. Unfortunately, this is not how you deal with bullying. On the other hand, seeing your school counselor is. The vicious cycle is easily broken by seeking help from a trained professional. Being a school counselor dealing with these issues takes a lot of skill. It requires individuals with the correct certification in the field which enables them to look after the overall wellbeing of school children, to listen, interact and build trust. They are capable of assessing individuals and finding the most appropriate way of dealing with all situations, especially critical ones.

Depending on the type of situation, the measures counselors will take might vary. Although they will never be physically involved in the conflict in question, there are other effective interventions. Getting in touch with the parents will help put things into the right perspective. From that point on, the counselor is able to request their assistance and reach the offender. More often than not, this combined effort is what solves the bullying problem for good. Although there are times when severe verbal and physical bullying cannot be solved without intervention of the authorities, more subtle forms of this kind of abuse are still the greatest challenges. Whatever the situation may be, school counselors are the ones most capable of finding a solution by using and keeping all the lines of communication open.

There is no reason whatsoever to put up with bullying – whether you are a victim, a bystander or a bully. Keep in mind that bullies suffer as well. The violence they are expressing comes from severe sadness so deeply rooted they are often not aware of it themselves. In order to thrive in a healthy, bully-free environment and reach full potential, everyone has to work together. Facing up to your problems is bound to lead to a brighter and happier future.

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