Strange as it may seem, the school environment is one of the most unfair in the social context of cultures. Due to a lack of tact and little awareness of the rules of ethics, children often express violent, extremely straightforward behavior toward their peers. In turn, this generates problems of injustice and oppression, which, moreover, are classified by contemporary sociology as bullying. At the same time, one cannot deny the apparent power of social networks in which children spend a considerable part of their free time: in this environment, pressure, oppression, and humiliation of human dignity can be amplified by the virtual community. In such cases, it is customary to speak of cyberbullying, an undesirable evolution of ordinary bullying on the Internet. As a future professional in the field of school counseling, I have a professional obligation to fight for social justice and protect the vulnerable. In this paper, I will elaborate on exactly how I plan to do this.
Dealing with school bullying requires a comprehensive approach, so it is imperative that each case be critically evaluated. In other words, it is unacceptable to use a one-size-fits-all rule to solve a problem that will not take into account the child’s personal experiences. Therefore, in my role as a school counselor, I will try to use a systematic retrospective approach to work not only with a particular episode of social injustice but also to explore its prehistory and discover the causal mechanisms that triggered the processes of emotional or even physical pressure. For example, if a child once complains to me about being beaten by a peer, I will work with the big picture to understand the aggressor’s potential motives and rid the entire environment of stigma and discrimination.
It is easy to appreciate that this strategy requires the support of stakeholders, including teachers, classmates, and parents of children involved in conflicts. Communication with everyone involved in the educational process must be built on principles of trust and honesty, and the school counselor (me) should not act as a supervisor but as an advisor and partner in improving the learning experience. In addition, the very existence of the classroom must be based on a culture of conscience and empathy, which means it has a critical need to shape this environment. For example, this can be realized by making students aware of the importance of social justice principles and encouraging ideas that positively affect the entire class. Only in such an environment can it be guaranteed that students’ voices and opinions will be heard, and thus they will not have to find violent ways to self-actualize.
Indeed, such innovations would require a significant shift in the established structure of bullying and intraclass segregation. The school counselor’s role must then be paired with an agent of change for the entire school that promotes the practical entrenchment of new principles of social justice-based learning. To implement these changes, the professional is encouraged to provide instructional practices and training and inhibit any abusive attitudes. In addition, the code of professional ethics teaches honesty and competent crisis management, so any acts of inappropriate and immoral behavior — including if a student commits episodes of self-harming — must be reported to the teacher and the child’s parents (ASCA, 2016). It is essential to communicate your intentions to the child, enhancing the trusting relationship and making the counseling process itself more transparent and honest. Ultimately, only through harmonious integration of honesty, fairness, and support can school counseling services to be provided at the highest level of quality.
ASCA. (2016). ASCA ethical standards for school counselors [PDF document]. Web.