Roles of School Psychologist in Bullying Prevention and Intervention

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Bullying PreventionYou might probably know Regina George. She is the famously Queen Bee and the notorious leader of “Plastics.”  She is belittling, controlling, deceiving, mean, and capable of doing everything under her power – she is the perfect representation of a typical High School BULLY!  If you watched the teen comedy film “Mean Girls,” you know that I’m talking about the antagonist effectively played by Rachelle McAdams.

Though the film was undeniably fun, it depicts one of the most common yet significant problems that majority of school-aged children and teens face each day – BULLYING!

Bullying is associated with increases in suicide risk among victims of bullying as well as increases in depression and other problems associated with suicide.  Targets of cyberbullying reported higher levels of depression than victims of face-to-face bullying.  Over time, bullying is strongly linked to victims’ anger, frustration, and violent behaviors. Particularly in school settings, bullying and bystander silence create an unwelcome and increasingly intimidating environment, which may lead to violent events occurring in the schools.

Whether a victim, a bully, or just a mere bystander, we all have our fair share of bullying stories.  Stories that are no fun to watch at all for the coming generations.  But what really is bullying?

NASP (National Association of School Psychologist) defined Bullying as: (a) the use of force or coercion to negatively affect others; (b) involving an imbalance of social, physical, and/or emotional power; and (c) involving willful and repeated acts of harm. Bullying behaviors may be persistently directed at the target based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, physical appearance, sex, or other distinguishing characteristics. Bullying behavior is not limited to children and adolescents and can also occur among the adults in children’s lives.

The following types of bullying are most often seen among children and adolescents:

  • Verbal—includes name-calling; insults; making racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes, remarks, or teasing; using sexually suggestive or abusive language; threats of violence; and offensive remarks. This is the most common form of bullying.
  • Physical—includes hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting, other physical aggression, and damage to or taking someone else’s belongings.
  • Relational/Social—includes spreading untrue stories about someone, excluding from social groups (social isolation), and being made the subject of malicious rumors.
  • Electronic—any type of bullying that is carried out via an electronic medium such as text messaging, cell phone calls, pictures or video clips via mobile phone cameras, e-mail, chat rooms, social networking sites, and other websites.

 

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  And NASP being one of the advocates of this campaign shared the Roles of School Psychologist in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.

School psychologists are uniquely positioned to use their knowledge of psychology, education, and child development and their consultation and advocacy skills to affect policies and practices within the schools. Because school psychologists work directly with students, as well as with staff, parents, and administrators, practitioners are encouraged to take a leadership role in developing comprehensive approaches to bullying prevention and school-wide climate improvement (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2009). School psychologists can have a direct role in preventing bullying through direct and indirect services provided to children, families, and schools, including:

  • Developing school-wide prevention activities (e.g., PBIS) or more targeted prevention activities to help students develop appropriate social skills;
  • Counseling victims of bullying in all its forms to ensure that they do not internalize the effects of repeated harassment;
  • Conduct informative social–emotional assessments of student perpetrators of bullying behavior at school;
  • Develop interventions to help eliminate bullying behaviors and replace these with positive, prosocial behaviors;
  • Provide consultation to the parents/guardians of bullies and targets to offer them effective resources, supportive interventions, and strategies for managing behavior.

 

PRACTICES THAT PERMEATE ALL ASPECTS OF SERVICE DELIVERY

  • Train the entire school staff in developing and implementing positive behavioral interventions that prevent bullying, reduce bystander involvement, and promote students’ social–emotional development using discipline-related incidents as potential learning opportunities (teachable moments).
  • Provide group training and consultation to help schools form effective safety and crisis teams. • Use federal and state policies to help educate district and school professionals on antibullying policies that can provide clear and consistent guidelines for bullying behaviors.
  • Consult with school staff in implementing social skills programs and other programs that teach peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.
  • Participate in and facilitate evidence-based procedures to respond to bullying behavior.

 

FOUNDATIONS OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS’ SERVICE DELIVERY

  • Serve on district and school safety and crisis teams to help implement and evaluate comprehensive safety initiatives.
  • Participate in conducting a needs assessment and program evaluation regarding aggression, violence, and crisis needs at the school and district levels. To ensure that school psychologists are well prepared to provide leadership in school climate and bullying prevention, NASP supports efforts to provide school psychologists with the requisite knowledge and skills to design and implement prevention and school climate programs that are supported by rigorous empirical research. These skills are specified in NASP’s Model for Comprehensive and Integrative School Psychological Services, and NASP advocates for their inclusion in training and practice standards of all state credentialing bodies.

 

Click here to read the rest of the article and if you want to know the NASP’s Comprehensive and Integrative School Psychological Services.  And here for more information about Bullying Prevention and Intervention.

Reference: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/bullying-prevention

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