I am excited to welcome Laura Smestad from The School Counselor Life Blog as a Savvy Guest Blogger today. I’m sure you will find this post useful.
Bullying is a buzzword among parents, students and teachers today. While awareness of bullying is a good thing, quite often it is confused with normal peer conflict, leaving us as counselors to educate others on what is bullying and what is not.
My students are able to differentiate between bullying and meanness quickly and soundly when I am presenting a lesson on the subject; however, once they are involved in a peer conflict situation that hurts their feelings, they seem to forget the differences. As a result, I created a Student Bullying Report Form that I use with any student who comes to me with a bullying claim.
I guide the student through the form as a way to gather more information (and to assess if it is truly a bullying situation I am dealing with), but the main purpose of this form for me is to help the students understand if they are talking about bullying or peer conflict.
The student completing the form writes his or her name, the name of the alleged bully, examples of the bullying behavior, and locations where that behavior takes place (I help my younger students write when needed).
Then, there are a series of questions to which the student must answer yes or no. These are the questions:
1. Has this happened more than once? (If yes, how often? ____)
2. Are you friends with this person?
3. Do you often choose to be around this person?
4. Do you believe this person has more power than you? (If yes, how? _______)
5. Bullying is defined as “unwanted aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and involves an imbalance in power.” Based on this definition, do you believe the student you named is truly bullying you?
After the student is finished completing the form, we talk about the answers. Many times, my students who come in saying they are being bullied indicate that it has not happened more than once, that they are friends with the person and choose to be around him/her, that they do not believe the person has more power, and that no, they do not believe they are being bullied based on the definition given. In those cases, I take the opportunity to do some psycho-education on true bullying and remind them of the bullying vs. meanness lessons I presented to their class. Then, we work together to develop solutions to the conflict, and I teach some resolution and communication skills.
If a student marks off multiple indicators of bullying, I remind them that I have to tell another adult if someone is in danger (such as someone being bullied). At the bottom of the form is the following statement: “I have been honest in answering this form. I understand that in a true bullying situation, the school counselor cannot keep private what I have told her, and she will likely bring this to the attention of the principal and assistant principal.” The student then signs the form, and I bring the situation to my principal and assistant principal as part of our school bullying protocol.
Overall, this form has helped me further educate students on what is and is not bullying, while giving me a tool to better assess for a bullying situation. Visit my TPT store to download my Student Bullying Report Form for FREE.
Laura Smestad, M.A., LPC, NCC is an elementary and middle school counselor in New Orleans, LA. She is the creator of The School Counselor Life Blog, which is designed as a resource to other school counselors looking for individual and small group counseling ideas, classroom lessons, organization tips and all things school counseling.
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