BC Counsellor - Fall 2012 - (Page 12)

Bullying in the Schoolyard: Actual and Virtual Toward a better understanding By Catherine Hall, School Counsellor SD 36 Bullying covers a wide range of repetitive, negative behaviors, but onetime events, with the assistance of social media, can also be disastrous. So what should the counsellors’ role be in managing bullying? In my search for a greater understanding of the nature of bullying in secondary schools, I found myself investigating district policy, reading releva nt liter ature a nd t r y ing to synthesize the mosaic of knowledge and protocols gathered through in ser vice presentations which might be relevant to the school counsellor. The process of gathering information directed me back to the very important process of self-reflection. I filter these idea s and pr inciple s t hrough my approach to bullying in my own role as a counsellor in a very unique program within the Surrey School district – the TREK program. TREK is a small school program within the Surrey school district, which serves youth aged 13-16. Complicated family dynamics, chronic absenteeism and social skill deficits are the root causes for why many students end up in this specialized program. For the past four years, I have dealt with a myriad of changing variables: staff fluctuations, program and facilit y challenges, and job action. Surrounded by all this change, my approach cannot be reactive, it must be proactive. As a 12 According to Public Safety Canada, bullying is defined as: “Actions within a relationship between a dominant and a less dominant person or group where: An imbalance of power (real or perceived) is manifest through aggressive actions, physical or psychological (including verbal or social); Negative interactions occur that are direct (face-to-face) or indirect (gossip, exclusion); Negative actions are taken with an intention to harm. These can include some or all of the following: Physical Actions (punching, kicking, biting), Verbal Actions (threats, name calling, insults, ethnoculturally-based or sexual comments), and Social Exclusion (spreading rumours, ignoring, gossiping, excluding); The negative actions are repeated. Either the intensity or the duration of the actions establishes the bully’s dominance over the victim.” come in with some experience of bullying. Deciding how to place students into the two groups has been a challenge. Bullying has been a specific area of interest for me. I remember scouring many journals at the University of British Columbia for best practices in mana ging bully ing dur ing my adolescent counseling course without much success. However, if my mind was a search engine and I typed in adolescent counseling and bullying, the Pikas method would be the first title to pop up. The Pika s method involves first inter v iewing suspected bullie s i n a no n - j ud g m e nt a l w ay, t he n inter v iew ing t he v ict im. In s ome cases, it is possible that the victim has provoked the bullying intentionally or unintentionally so one must piece together the big picture and attempt to put it into context. An important part of the intervention involves “sharing the concern” about the victimized student with the suspected bullies through an individual meeting and eliciting suggestions from them about BC Counsellor | Fall 2012 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com counsellor, my role has been to identify potential challenges students coming to the program may experience, usually related to the reason for the referral and develop a strategy of intervention using positive incentives so that every student may experience some form of success. Translation: I am hyper vigilant for indications of trouble and for altering the environment before trouble can come to fruition. Individual learning goals are defined within an intricate community of staff and “grey area” students who must learn to tolerate difference s and s elf- mana ge. For some students this is the last stop in their education. I have discovered that promoting prosocial behaviors through a trusting relationship, combined with an analysis of group dynamics leads to the most success. This par t-time program consists of two groups of twelve students. As it was described to me, the morning group consisted of the students who often got bullied and acted out, and the afternoon group was made up of the students who have bullied others and have more “street sense.” All students http://www.bcschoolcounsellor.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Fall 2012

President’s Message
The Fine Print
We’ve come a Long Way Baby.
Bullying in the Schoolyard: Actual and Virtual
School Counsellors and Bill 22:
Crossing Oceans to New Worlds: Teens in Transition
Index to Advertisers

BC Counsellor - Fall 2012