Description of counseling advocacy
The school counselor role is identified as one of implementing proactive behavioral supports as well as interventions when social challenges such as bullying, and cyberbullying occur (Chibbaro, 2007). The source of the problem is ultimately the same as the source of any bullying- social hierarchy and social mobility strategies of students in combination with power struggle.
Counseling advocacy requires bringing together the stakeholders and coordinating proactive and supportive actions. To that end, a clear school policy must provide the foundation, followed by training for teachers and awareness campaigns for students. The policy should include a clear procedure for reporting cyberbullying, which leads to a discussion of the parties.
School counselor advocacy plan
This three-part school counselor advocacy plan involves instituting a clear school policy in relation to cyberbullying, support for parents and reminders of their legal obligation to monitor their child’s online activities, and a positive social awareness program for cyberbullies and their victims which aims at reconciliation and a reduction in both bullying and victimization (Chibbaro, 2007). In this way the collaboration of stakeholders, including parents, students and teaching staff have channels for inclusion (Sabella, Patchin, & Hinduja, 2013).
The problem is identified and operationalized as intense distress of students who are dealing with cyberbullying. These are situations that typically involve members of the student body but occur outside of school time. Possible systemic contributions are the lack of a policy which identifies what cyberbullying in the context of the school is. The risk of non-action is increased conflict in the student body. The risk of action is the challenge of engaging youth..
Proven strategies that I would feel qualified to implement in the form of an Action Plan are increased awareness of behavior expectations within the school community and increased support for coping strategies and resilience where cyberbullying occurs. To that end, defining cyberbullying and acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and encoding them in policy are an important start.
Preliminary steps to change
Given that one in four students experience cyberbullying, a broad program is needed to raise awareness of coping strategies and alternatives. Groups that are working on the same issue include the policy development unit of the school board, public health units, parents and teaching staff. Developing a program that provides student with a means of responding to cyberbullying or victimization is what middle school students do really want to know (Burnham & Wright, 2012).
There is likely to be less resistance because of the inclusive nature of the program, as well as leveraging the desires and needs of students. The form of challenge or resistance is likely to be apathy rather than active resistance, and this will require creative communication.
Enlisting the support of influential people and policy makers will be facilitated by writing a blog post for the school about the program, its implementation and the achievements to gain external interest and expertise, and an open dialogue which is maintained throughout the school year which targets students.
Evaluating progress of the advocacy program will require defining measurable objectives in advance, and in this case they will include student participation, and student evaluations. The level of participation in the student body will be one metric, and a survey of students at the end of the year will assess their attitudes towards the program for use as another evaluation metric.
The method for intervention will be defined in the school policy in relation to cyberbullying. It will provide for a private discussion with the parties to the cyberbullying over a space of time that ideally results in having a greater respect for the feelings of all of the parties. More serious incidents which cannot be resolved in this way will be dealt with in a manner similar to traditional bullying.
- Burnham, J. J., & Wright, V. H. (2012). Cyberbullying: What Middle School Students Want You to Know. Alabama counseling association journal, 38(1), 3-12.
- Chibbaro, J. (2007). School counselors and the cyberbully: Interventions and implications. Professional School Counseling, 11(1), 65-68.
- Sabella, R. A., Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2013). Cyberbullying myths and realities. Computers in Human behavior, 29(6), 2703-2711.