The Four Types of Bullying and the Role School Counselors Can Play
Despite anti-bullying policies at schools, kids continue to get bullied. Worldwide, more than 30% of adolescents are bullied.1 In a U.S. study, approximately 22% of students ages 12 to 18 said they were bullied at school.2
The Four Types of Bullying
Researchers have defined four types of bullying:
Physical bullying is physical assault. Pushing, kicking, hitting, spitting, and taking another student’s or group’s property and damaging it are all examples of physical bullying.
Verbal bullying is spoken bullying, such as insulting, threatening, and teasing.
Relational bullying is also known as social bullying. Examples are spreading rumors to damage someone’s reputation, purposely excluding someone, ignoring someone, or pretending to be someone’s friend.
Cyberbullying involves the use of texting, social media, or email to purposely harm another student.3
The Impacts of Bullying on Three Groups
Everyone involved in bullying, from the bully to the bullied and bystanders, experiences negative effects.
- Bullies are more likely to experience substance use disorder as adolescents and issues such as violence and criminal behavior later in life.
- Victims of bullying may be absent more often, and their schoolwork may suffer. They can experience feelings of despair and isolation, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to increased rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts.
- Students who are bystanders to bullying also experience emotional distress and substance use disorder. Sometimes the bystanders report even more negative impacts than the victims do.3
But there is a unique intervention that school counselors can implement to reduce bullying and empower bystanders to take action.
What School Counselors Can Do
To decrease bullying, school counselors choose students from differing peer groups to participate in a special training. The goal of this intervention is to train students who would otherwise be bystanders to become defenders who intervene when they witness bullying. (The training can be conducted by the school counselor, or the counselor can partner with a counseling degree program.)
In the training, the participants learn what bullying is, the four types of bullying, and the negative impacts of bullying. Students then learn the intervention tactics known as STAC and practice it through role-playing.
STAC Training—A Student-Based Solution to Bullying
STAC represents the tactics that students can use to transform from bystanders to defenders. The first element is Stealing the Show. The defender uses a distraction to take the attention away from a bullying incident. For instance, if an older kid is calling a younger student names and a group of students is watching, the defender could tell a joke to get everyone laughing or loudly point out something interesting that others will turn to look at. This tactic interrupts the bullying without a confrontation.
The next tactic is Turning It Over, which means that the defender will let an adult know about the bullying. In the case of physical bullying or if Stealing the Show was unsuccessful, defenders are taught to immediately tell an adult what is happening. If a defender sees cyberbullying on social media, they print it out and turn that over to an adult.
The third strategy is Accompanying Others, which gives the defender an opportunity to let the student who was bullied know that they are not alone. The defender can tell the student that what happened wasn’t okay. Or the student can walk with the bullied student to their next class or invite them to play a game during a lunch break.
The final step is Coaching Compassion. In this tactic, the defender talks to the bully, particularly if the bully is in the defender’s peer group or if the bully is younger than the defender and is likely to respect them. If a bully knocks a student’s books out their hands, the defender can gently ask the bully how they’d feel if that happened to them, or simply tell the bully that their behavior isn’t cool.
The Benefits of STAC Training
After the training, the school counselor regularly holds follow-up meetings with the defenders. Not only does this training help the defenders feel supported, but it also gives the school counselor the opportunity to offer feedback and help the defenders become more effective. Additionally, these meetings help the counselor better understand the amount of bullying taking place at the school.3
Research has found that implementing STAC training results in reduced bullying. Additionally, students who participate in the STAC program experience increased confidence in acting as defenders, improved self-esteem, and reduced anxiety.4
Bullying is a pervasive issue. School counselors can’t intervene in every bullying incident, but they can implement STAC or a program like it to help reduce bullying and empower bystanders.
How to Become a School Counselor
Today’s school counselors help students address academic, developmental, social, and personal problems. School counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools. No matter what age range the students are in, a counselor’s goal is to help them reach their full potential.
In order to become a school counselor, most states require a master’s degree in school counseling. A master’s program in school counseling can help prepare you to empower youth.
If you want to work with a broader range of ages, you might consider a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. An MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling can help prepare you to work as a counselor for individuals of any age, as well as families and couples.
An MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling program is also an option. Walden University is one of only a few accredited universities offering a dual counseling degree program online. The program meets CACREP (Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) requirements and grants two distinct degrees—a master’s in clinical mental health counseling and a master’s in school counseling—at the same time. Two degrees means more career options and more knowledge and skills with which to support your clients.
Walden also offers these online CACREP-accredited MS in School Counseling and MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree programs individually. Whether you choose to pursue a dual degree or a single master’s degree, you’ll be academically prepared to pursue certification or licensure as a counselor. Online education can prepare you for a new career and empower you to become a counselor who makes a difference in the lives of others.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering MS in School Counseling, MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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