by Dr. Melissa Ockerman
Recently I was asked to appear as a guest on WGN radio station's (the "Voice of Chicago") Saturday morning talk and news show, WGN Weekend with Bill Moller.
I was delighted to share my research related to the pervasive issue of bullying and cyberbullying in our schools with Bill Moller and his WGN radio audience. We discussed the importance of a whole-school, multi-pronged, systemic approach to bullying prevention and intervention, as well as the integral role of the school counselor in these efforts. Specifically, I asserted that parents/guardians, community members and schools must work collaboratively together in order to successfully meet the challenge at hand. Clear school policies must be jointly created that specify acceptable and unacceptable behavior and the consequences involved. All administrators, teachers and school staff, (including custodians, recess monitors, bus drivers, and coaches who often witness incidences of bullying), need to be trained and educated about this issue on a consistent basis. Students need to know how to respond to and report bullying and feel supported in doing so. Schools must create a positive climate where all students feel safe and are able to learn. The time is now.
As an advocate for all students, school counselors can lead collaborative efforts in this critical area by offering professional development and workshops for school staff and parents. They are skilled at developing and implementing classroom instruction around social skills and conflict resolution for students. They can serve on discipline committees that promote positive behavioral supports and restorative justice practices. And they can advocate for the safety of those students whose voices often go unheard.
Below are a few of my favorite links that school counselors can utilize when spearheading these efforts:
This is not a problem that can be solved in isolation. Together, as concerned citizens and educational professionals, we can create proactive solutions and safer schools for all students.
*To hear my conversation about this topic with Bill Moller, click below: