Cyber bullying has its own set of challenges for school counsellors
With the ever increasing use of the Internet, the bullying playing field has been altered dramatically.
Now, instead of having to confront their victim face to face, bullies are able to abuse from behind the protection of their computer screens.
“I would definitely say that cyber bullying is the biggest issue we are facing now,” said Rich Swanson, counsellor at Highland Secondary.
“I think the biggest thing for students is that it’s not just a school issue anymore. It becomes an outside issue if it’s on the Internet.”
The phenomenon of cyber bullying only makes the issue of bullying that much harder to tackle. Swanson noted that a lot of the bullying situations the school is made aware of happen on weekends or evenings, so the schools themselves have no authority.
Wednesday, Feb. 24 is an anti-bullying awareness day, which has come to be known as Pink Shirt Day, after two Nova Scotia high school students decided to take a stand against bullying.
“(Bullying Awareness Days) make the issues more common place,” said Swanson. “Students basically feel more empowered to do something if they are being bothered or intimidated. They learn some of the steps they can do to stop it.”
Swanson went on to explain the basic steps taken to counter bullying in high schools.
“The first step is a conversation with the bully, and reassuring the victim,” said Swanson. “Then we check in with them within a couple days to see if the bullying has stopped, and usually the first time is enough. If it’s not, at that point, we have the bully back in. We then notify the parent, tell them what’s going on and if it continues beyond that, it becomes more of a disciplinary issue instead of a counselling one. They are then put forward to the vice-principal or the principal of the school. They make it very clear to that person that this type of bullying is not allowed.”
Swanson said that the most important thing is to speak up.
“Don’t let anyone steal your power. Report it to your teacher, your parent, a counsellor, any adult who can then bring it forward and end it. If we know what’s going on then we can make a change.”
Elanor Bukach is a student intern from Highland Secondary, doing a Work Experience placement at the Comox Valley Record