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  • 1. Guidance counsellor strategies for handling bullying Michleen Power-Elliott* and Gregory E. Harris Faculty of Education, Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada (Received 16 January 2011; final version received 7 October 2011) The purpose of this exploratory-descriptive study was to examine how guidance counsellors in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador would handle a specific verbal-relational bullying incident. Also of interest was guidance counsellor involvement and training in bullying programmes and Positive Behaviour Supports. Data for this study was collected using the Handling Bullying Questionnaire (Bauman, Rigby, & Hoppa, 2008). Results suggested that guidance counsellors tended to take on various responsibilities in addressing verbal-relational bullying (e.g. work with victims and bullies, disciplinary) and tended to enlist the support of other adults. It is argued that guidance counsellors assume important roles in addressing school bullying and that training in this area is critical for guidance counsellors. Study implications and future research directions are discussed. Keywords: guidance counsellors; bullying; bullying intervention; counsellor dual roles In Canada, as in other countries, bullying continues to be a concern in schools and communities. Schools, a microcosm of society, are struggling to address bullying. Guidance counsellors are one part of a larger system that impacts on bullying. Some evidence suggests that guidance counsellors, because of their education, may respond to bullying in unique ways as compared with other adults in the school environment (i.e. teachers and administrators). The purpose of this study was to assess the role of guidance counsellors in dealing with bullying. There is little research on the role of guidance counsellors in the prevention and remediation of bullying and thus our study helps to clarify the role of guidance counsellors in responding to bullying. In the following discussion, we define bullying from a systemic perspective. The important role played by adults and, in particular, guidance counsellors is highlighted. Anti-bullying programmes and Positive Behaviour Supports (PBS) are also considered. Bullying defined According to Olweus (1993), ‘A student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students’ (p. 9). This definition includes three critical criteria: intention, repetitive- ness and power imbalance (Craig & Pepler, 2007; Olweus, 2010). Twemlow and Sacco *Corresponding author. Email: k73mcp@mun.ca British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, Vol. 40, No. 1, February 2012, 83Á98 ISSN 0306-9885 print/ISSN 1469-3534 online # 2012 Taylor & Francis http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2011.646947 http://www.tandfonline.com
  • 2. (2008) have incorporated the bystander audience as part of bullying, resulting in the school as a whole becoming an active participant in the bullying process and part of a system that has an impact on bullying. Bullying can be physical (e.g. pushing), verbal (e.g. name-calling) or relational (e.g. exclusion). Bullying can also be direct or indirect. Direct bullying involves forms of both physical and verbal bullying. Indirect bullying, or social aggression, uses less direct forms of bullying such as spreading rumours or social exclusion (Bauman, 2008). According to research, indirect bullying is often perceived as less serious (Mishna, Pepler, & Wiener, 2006). In the current study, participants were presented with a verbal-relational bullying scenario which contained elements of both direct and indirect bullying. The bullying scenario presented had three components common to most definitions of bullying: deliberate intention to harm; repetition of the bullying behaviour; and a power imbalance between the bully and the victim (Olweus, 1993). Bullying from a systems perspective According to Pepler, Craig, and O’Connell (1999), dynamic systems theory can be used as a theoretical perspective to explain bullying. They argue that bullying is best understood in the context of a social dynamic system where the bully and victim are only two parts of a larger social system. The school environment is part of this social system (Pepler et al., 1999). Bullying can be conceptualised as behaviour which is influenced by a variety of systemic factors. Some of these factors may include: peer influence (Burnes, Cross, & Maycock, 2010); parenting and the home environment (Pettit & Bates, 1989); neighbourhood (Hawkins et al., 2000); socio-economic status (Whitney & Smith, 1993); school climate (Bonnet, Goossens, Willemen, & Schuengel, 2009); cultural norms (Hilton, Anngela-Cole, & Wakita, 2010); media (Barboza et al., 2009); and gender (Carbone-Lopez, Esbensen, & Brick, 2010). In our study, guidance counsellors, and how they would respond to a bullying incident, were the bounded subsystem of our investigation. Guidance counsellors and school psychologists Guidance counsellors and school psychologists play a role in school climate and safety. Unfortunately, very little research exists on the role of guidance counsellors in bullying intervention and prevention (Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennan, 2007). A recent American study by Sherer and Nickerson (2010) showed that school psychologists do use several anti-bullying strategies in their schools (e.g. counselling, discipline). Because of their formal education in empathic listening and relationship building, guidance counsellors may view bullying in ways unique to them, and in contrast with approaches taken by their teacher and administrative colleagues. However, within a cohort of guidance counsellors there may be differing amounts of training in anti- bullying, causing there to be some variation in responses to bullying within the group. For example, a 2007 study by Jacobsen and Bauman found that school counsellors with anti-bullying training rated relational bullying as more serious than counsellors who did not have such training, and counsellors who worked in schools with anti-bullying programmes were more likely to intervene in incidents involving relational bullying than counsellors who worked in a school without such 84 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 3. programmes. Bauman et al. (2008) compared teacher and guidance counsellor responses to a bullying situation. They found counsellors were more likely than teachers to enlist the help of other adults and work with the victims. Counsellors were less likely than teachers to ignore or dismiss the situation and less likely to use punitive measures. Bauman (2008), along with Jacobsen and Bauman (2007), suggests that the school guidance counsellor is a logical person to take a leadership role in addressing school bullying (e.g. through providing staff training, resources to parents, counselling to students). Anti-bullying programmes Staff awareness of the prevalence and seriousness of bullying and recognition of the need for a whole school approach are common elements in many school anti-bullying programmes (Rigby, Smith, & Pepler, 2004), with most intervention programmes focusing on systemic change rather than on individual change (Craig, Pepler, Murphy, & McCuaig-Edge, 2010). However, there may be differences in the contents of these programmes. For example, there may be different amounts of emphasis on teacher training, prevention, intervention, surveillance and working with the students identified as bullies (Rigby et al., 2004). Rigby (2008), Twemlow and Sacco (2008) and Craig and Pepler (2007) have all suggested that success rates of anti-bullying programmes vary, with many being only moderately effective and some even making bullying worse (see Craig et al., 2010 and Merrell, Isava, Gueldner, & Ross, 2008, for reviews). Positive Behaviour Supports PBS emerged as a means to support individuals who had difficulty achieving their lifestyle goals due to problem behaviour (Dunlap, Sailor, Horner, & Sugai, 2009). Its conceptual framework is based on behaviourism (Simonsen & Sugai, 2009) and applied behaviour analysis (Dunlap et al., 2009). On the whole, research is supportive of the school-wide positive behaviour supports (SW-PBS) approach with decreases to antisocial behaviour and improvements to school climate and academic success (Sugai & Horner, 2008). The current study considered PBS along with other anti- bullying programmes utilised by the study participants’ schools. Methodology Research design Participants and sampling approach The population for this study was all guidance counsellors in the four English- speaking school districts in Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is relatively small, geographically spread out and largely rurally based. The province has a total population of just over half a million people, many of whom reside in rural communities. Like many regions in Canada, this rural population is contrasted with a relatively large subsection of the population that resides in an urban centre. The survey was administered using Survey Monkey, an online survey software tool. Exactly 189 guidance counsellors were contacted via email and provided with a link to access the informed consent form and British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 85
  • 4. questionnaire posted on Survey Monkey. This was followed with a reminder email two weeks later to request participation. Ninety-four completed the survey (49.74%). As an incentive to participate, counsellors could enter their name in a draw to win a $25.00 gift card. Of the 274 schools whose guidance counsellors were surveyed, there were varying school configurations as identified by the researchers, i.e. primary/elementary (KÁ6, KÁ3, KÁ4); middle school (7Á9, 7Á8, 5Á9, 4Á7); high school (10Á12, 9Á12); all grade (KÁ12); and multi-level (8Á12, KÁ7, KÁ8, KÁ9, 7Á12). Questionnaire The Handling Bullying Questionnaire was used in this study (Bauman et al., 2008) to obtain an overall measure of how guidance counsellors in this province handle verbal-relational bullying. The survey questionnaire contained 22 questions verbatim from the Bauman et al. (2008) questionnaire with the exception of question #13 which read ‘I would ask the student’s teacher to intervene’ in the current study, whereas in Bauman et al.’s (2008) survey it read ‘I would ask the school counsellor to intervene.’ Since counsellors were the population being surveyed, the wording of this question was changed. In addition to the 22-question survey, participants were also asked demographic information (e.g. age, education, sex) and school information (e.g. school location, type of school, bullying programmes). Counsellors were given a bullying scenario containing both direct and indirect bullying and were asked to choose, on a Likert scale from one to five, how likely they were to react in the way specified by each of the 22 items. Scales corresponding to five factors were: Work with the victim (e.g. I would suggest that the victim act more assertively); Work with the bully (e.g. I would discuss with the bully options from which he/she could make a choice in order to improve the situation); Ignore the incident (e.g. I would leave it for someone else to sort out); Enlist other adults (e.g. I would discuss the matter with my colleagues at school); and Discipline the bully (e.g. I would make sure the bully was suitably punished). The higher the scale score on each category, the higher the endorsement of that strategy. In the current study, reliabilities were examined using Cronbach’s alpha. These values were: Work with the victim as .76; Work with the bully as .67; Ignore the incident as .20; Enlist other adults as .64; and Discipline the bully as .65. These values all fell within an acceptable range (Holden, Fekken, & Cotton, 1991) with the exception of the Ignore the incident scale which had very little variability in its scores. Table 1. Distribution of NL schools, guidance counsellors and guidance counsellors surveyed. School district # of schools # of guidance counsellors (population) # of guidance counsellors invited to participate in study Eastern 122 120 118 Nova Central 67 30 30 Western 71 35 35 Labrador 16 6 6 Total 276 191 189 86 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 5. Study hypotheses for the current study 1. Guidance counsellors would elect to work with the victim, work with the bully and enlist other adults. Given the therapeutic role of guidance counsellors in schools and their roles as student advocates, the researchers hypothesised that guidance counsellors would elect to work with the bullies and victims. In addition, enlist other adults is a strategy strongly endorsed in most anti- bullying programmes. 2. It is unlikely guidance counsellors would ignore the incident. School guidance programmes include both personal and social development as part of the guidance programming. 3. Given guidance counsellors’ therapeutic role, it is unlikely they would discipline the bully. It was hypothesised by the researchers that guidance counsellors would avoid the dual roles of therapist and disciplinarian, given the contradictory nature of those roles. 4. Guidance counsellors’ age and sex would not significantly impact on the above noted five composite scales. Consistent with Bauman et al.’s (2008) study, it was hypothesised by the researchers that age would not affect how guidance counsellors would respond to items on the questionnaire. Also, given participants’ counselling-based training, it was hypothesised that sex would not significantly impact their responses to bullying. 5. Presence of a bullying programme and/or the practice of Positive Behaviour Supports would be negatively related with the ignore the incident scale as well as the discipline the bully scale but positively related with the work with the victim, work with the bully and enlist other adults scales. Bullying programmes and PBS are integral programmes which contribute to positive school climate and therefore contribute to the systemic factors that mitigate bullying. 6. Guidance counsellor training in bullying and/or PBS would be negatively related with the ignore the incident scale as well as the discipline the bully scale but positively related with the work with the victim, work with the bully and enlist other adults scales, as training in such areas was hypothesised to facilitate a therapeutic role between guidance counsellors and students. Results Study limitations It is important to consider the study limitations prior to presenting the results. First, the reliabilities fell within an acceptable range, with the exception of the ignore the incident scale which had very little variability in its scores. Results from this scale should be interpreted with caution. Second, there were small numbers of participants in certain variable groups (e.g. those not implementing PBS), reducing the power within such analyses. Third, like Bauman et al.’s (2008) study, this study is based on what counsellors thought they might do, given this scenario of verbal-relational bullying. Thus, it is based on counsellors’ perceptions/beliefs versus actual behaviour. Also, it is not advisable to generalise these findings to other types of bullying situations. Lastly, although the response rate of the present study was 49.74%, a relatively high rate for such types of research, it still only reflects just under half of British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 87
  • 6. the guidance counsellors in this province. Thus, non-responders may differ in meaningful ways compared with study responders. Demographics The sample was primarily female (70.2%, n066) with almost half of the sample falling in the 41Á50 year age range (45.7%, n043). Participants reported a minimum of two degrees (i.e. at least one Bachelor and one Master’s degree). Sixty-seven percent (n063) of participants were in a full-time guidance position, indicating that most participants only had guidance duties in their respective schools (see Table 2). Bullying programmes and Positive Behaviour Supports The majority of participants reported that their schools have a bullying programme (58.5%, n055) and more than half of responding counsellors reported receiving training in bullying (56.4%, n053). More than three-quarters of participants indicated training in PBS (76.6%, n072) and 71.3% (n067) indicated that their school is currently implementing PBS (see Table 3). Guidance counsellor strategies for handling bullying In this study, guidance counsellors reported being least likely to ignore the incident (mean01.23, SD 0.27) and more likely to discipline the bully (mean04.29, SD0.71) or enlist other adults (mean04.10, SD0.56) (see Table 4). Hypotheses 1, 2 and 3 were evaluated through an examination of the composite mean scores. Consistent with hypothesis 1, enlist other adults was a strategy endorsed by counsellors in this study (i.e. mean scores fell in the ‘I probably would’ category). Consistent with hypothesis 2, counsellors in the current study generally felt that to ignore the incident was unacceptable (i.e. mean scores fell in the ‘I definitely would not’ category). However, discipline the bully was not hypothesised as a strategy that guidance counsellors would have endorsed (hypothesis 3), yet the mean score for this composite fell in the ‘I probably would’ category. Examining the composite mean scores also showed that guidance counsellors endorsed work with the bully (mean03.93, SD0.61) and work with the victim (mean03.35, SD0.87), with both mean scores falling above the neutral point (consistent with hypothesis 1). This suggests that counsellors would endorse work with the bully and work with the victim as strategies, but not as strongly as they would endorse discipline the bully and/or enlist other adults. Although the mean score for the work with the victim scale was above the neutral point (mean03.35), the standard deviation on this scale was the largest of all five composites (SD0.87). Therefore, this scale shows the greatest variability in counsellor responses. These results are consistent with Bauman et al.’s (2008) study which also had the largest standard deviation on the work with the victim scale (mean03.33, SD0.83). Contrary to hypothesis 4, we used Spearman’s Rho and found a significant correlation between sex and work with the victim, where female counsellors were more likely than male counsellors to endorse work with the victim (.254, 5 .05, two- tailed). Using Spearman’s Rho, we did not find a significant correlation between age and responses on the five composite scales. 88 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 7. Table 2. Demographic characteristics of the sample. Characteristic N % of sample Sex Male 20 21.3 Female 66 70.2 Missing 8 8.5 Age Under 30 4 4.3 31Á40 23 24.5 41Á50 43 45.7 51Á60 19 20.2 61' 0 0 Missing 5 5.3 Years of experience 0Á5 26 27.7 6Á10 14 14.9 11Á15 13 13.8 16Á20 20 21.3 21Á25 7 7.4 26' 6 6.4 Missing 8 8.5 Percent of position* Full-time guidance 63 67.0 Part-time guidance ' other 21 22.3 Part-time guidance only 2 2.1 Missing 8 8.5 School location Urban 28 29.8 Rural 52 55.3 Both 3 3.2 Missing 11 11.7 School type** Primary/elementary 23 24.5 Middle school 13 13.8 High school 9 9.6 All grade 17 18.1 Multigrade 22 23.4 Missing 10 10.6 *Percent of position refers to the time allocated to guidance duties in the guidance position. Full time guidance refers to a respondent with only guidance duties. Part time guidance ' other refers to guidance counsellors who spend a portion of their time in the guidance role but are also assigned other duties such as teaching. Part time guidance only refers to those counsellors who are in a guidance role in a part time capacity. **School types were categorised by the researchers. Primary/elementary schools were the following configurations: KÁ6; KÁ4; and KÁ3. Middle schools were the following configurations: 7Á9; 7Á8; 5Á9; and 4Á7. High schools included 10Á12 and 9Á12. All grade schools were KÁ12. Multigrade schools were: 8Á12; 7Á12; KÁ7; KÁ8; and KÁ9. Multigrade was also used as a designation given to guidance counsellors who indicated they were in more than one school at different levels. For example, one respondent indicated working in three schools (KÁ6, 7Á12 and KÁ12). British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 89
  • 8. Bullying programmes and training in bullying The authors were also interested in examining whether the presence or absence of a bullying programme or training in bullying had any relationship with the way guidance counsellors would handle bullying. Tables 5Á7 below examine these relationships through Spearman’s Rho Correlations and one-way ANOVA’s, which show no statistically significant findings and, therefore, do not support hypotheses 5 or 6 which stated that the presence of a bullying programme, or training in bullying, would be negatively related with the ignore the incident and discipline the bully scales and positively related with the work with the bully, work with the victim and enlist other adults scales. Positive Behavioural Supports The authors were also interested in examining PBS training and PBS implementa- tion, and typical ways of handling bullying incidents. As seen in Table 8, and Table 3. Responses to bullying programmes and PBS questionnaire items. Questionnaire item N Percent Does your school have a bullying program? Yes 55 58.5 No 28 29.8 Missing 11 11.7 Have you received any formal training in bullying? Yes 53 56.4 No 30 31.9 Missing 11 11.7 Have you had any training in Positive Behaviour Supports? Yes 72 76.6 No 8 8.5 Not sure 3 3.2 Missing 11 11.7 Is your school currently implementing Positive Behaviour Supports? Yes 67 71.3 No 8 8.5 Not sure 7 7.4 Missing 12 12.8 Table 4. Means and standard deviations of composites and correlations between composites. Composite Mean (x¯) SD (s) N Work with the bully 3.93 .61 73 Work with the victim 3.35 .87 73 Enlist other adults 4.10 .56 76 Ignore the incident 1.23 .27 73 Discipline the bully 4.29 .71 76 Note: Likert Scale ratings of 1 to 5 as: 1 0 I definitely would not; 2 0 I probably would not; 3 0 I’m unsure; 4 0 I probably would; and 5 0 I definitely would. 90 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 9. contrary to hypothesis 6, there were no statistically significant findings when PBS training (i.e. yes versus no) was compared to the responses on each of the five composite scales using one-way ANOVA. The authors then examined PBS implementation (i.e. yes, no, not sure) and the five composite scales. Using a one-way ANOVA (see Table 9), there was a statistically significant difference found between implementing PBS in schools and the discipline the bully composite, F(2, 73)08.346, p value0.001. Because of the significant F- value, a post hoc analysis (i.e. Scheffe’s test) was used to identify where the significance existed. According to the post hoc analysis, there was a statistically significant difference between those who reported ‘yes’ to implementing PBS (mean: 4.437, SD: .592) and those ‘unsure’ of implementing PBS (mean: 3.476, SD: .604) on the discipline the bully composite. The researchers opted to collapse the ‘unsure’ of implementing PBS and the ‘not’ implementing PBS levels of the PBS variable. The Table 5. Spearman’s Rho Correlations for bullying programme, training in bullying and five composites. Composite Work with bully Ignore Work with victim Enlist adults Discipline bully Bully programme Spearman’s (.087 (.006 (.045 (.065 (.031 Sig (2-tailed) .465 .957 .703 .577 .788 N 73 73 73 76 76 Training in bullying Spearman’s (.126 .097 (.015 (.156 (.206 Sig (2-tailed) .290 .415 .900 .179 .074 N 73 73 73 76 76 *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). Table 6. ANOVA for bullying programme and five composites. Composite df F Sig. Work with bully 72 .481 .490 Ignore 72 .000 .988 Work with victim 72 .004 .948 Enlist adults 75 .410 .524 Discipline bully 75 .014 .906 Table 7. ANOVA for training in bullying and five composites. Composite df F Sig. Work with bully 72 .546 .463 Ignore 72 2.089 .153 Work with victim 72 .036 .851 Enlist adults 75 2.384 .127 Discipline bully 75 2.365 .128 British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 91
  • 10. rationale here was that if a participant was unsure if he/she was or was not implementing PBS then it would be unlikely that the programme was being followed all that stringently by the participant. Results of this ANOVA suggested a statistically significant difference between the counsellors who indicated they were implementing PBS in their school versus those who were not, or were unsure if they were, implementing PBS on the discipline the bully composite, F(1, 74)014.840, p0.000 (see Table 10). Contrary to hypothesis 5, this suggested that guidance counsellors who indicated they were implementing PBS in their schools were more likely to report that they would discipline the bully when compared to guidance counsellors who were not implementing PBS or were not sure if their school was implementing PBS. Discussion Guidance counsellor strategies for handling bullying Ignore the incident In this study, counsellors were unlikely to ignore the incident when presented with this verbal-relational incident of bullying, a finding consistent with Bauman et al.’s (2008) study. The current authors note an absence of literature on student perceptions regarding the availability of guidance counsellor bullying intervention. However, there is research that suggests students perceive teachers as not intervening sufficiently to stop bullying (Craig, Henderson, & Murphy, 2000). School counsel- lors, because of their counsellor preparation, may perceive relational bullying more seriously than their teacher colleagues (Jacobsen & Bauman, 2007). According to the Guidelines for comprehensive school guidance programming, one of the goals of the school guidance programme is to ‘promote preventative and developmental programs on a school wide basis to such topics as violence prevention, bullying, Table 8. ANOVA for PBS training and five composites. Composite df F Sig. Work with bully 72 .026 .974 Ignore 72 2.155 .124 Work with victim 72 1.338 .269 Enlist adults 75 .889 .416 Discipline bully 75 2.382 .099 Table 9. ANOVA for PBS implementation and five composites (using yes, no and not sure groups). Composite df F Sig. Work with bully 72 .878 .420 Ignore 71 .765 .469 Work with victim 71 .273 .762 Enlist adults 74 1.942 .151 Discipline bully 75 8.346 .001 92 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 11. substance abuse, etc.’ (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2010, p. 4). In addition, Canadian codes of ethics (e.g. for teachers, counsellors and psychologists) all highlight protection of client social welfare as ethical practice. Given the guidance counsellor’s role in ethical school guidance programming, it is unlikely they would ignore bullying. Enlist other adults Counsellors in this study were likely to enlist other adults. Enlist other adults is a strategy endorsed in most bullying programmes, according to the Ontario Ministry of Education, Registry of Bullying Prevention Programs (2010). Bullying research emphasises the importance of parental involvement (Eslea & Smith, 2000), administrative support (Plog, Epstein, Jens, & Porter, 2010), teacher involvement (Craig et al., 2010), and counsellor involvement (Bauman, 2008; Pollack, 2006). From a systemic perspective, the need for bullying awareness and behaviour change extends beyond the student and involves peers, teachers, parents and the broader community (Craig et al., 2010). It is widely accepted that bullying will not stop without the intervention of adults (Craig, Pepler, & Blais, 2007; Craig et al., 2010 and some bullying programmes are thought to be effective only because education of school personnel and parents is a priority (Pollack, 2006). Discipline the bully Imposing sanctions for the bully is consistent and widely endorsed under Olweus’ anti-bullying programme (Olweus, 1993). The strong endorsement of the discipline the bully scale by guidance counsellors in this province is consistent with Bauman et al.’s (2008) results where a sample of 735 American counsellors and teachers also supported imposing sanctions for the bully. In that study, Bauman et al. proposed that to discipline the bully by punitive measures may be ‘justifiable in cases of high severity bullying’ (p. 847) but the scenario presented in the HBQ was one of low severity and suggested that ‘US teachers and counsellors appear less familiar with non-punitive strategies’ (p. 847). Importantly, because different kinds of interventions have claimed the same levels of success, we do not know, for example, if punishing the bully is any better than using counselling methods (Rigby, 2008). Discipline the bully was not hypothesised in this study as a strategy that guidance counsellors would have endorsed, due to their therapeutic role in schools. Given this therapeutic role, to discipline the bully may be considered a dual role. The dual role of counsellor and disciplinarian is problematic and best summarised by Remley and Herlihy (2005) who said: ‘It would be unreasonable to expect students to trust and confide in a counselor who assigned Table 10. ANOVA for PBS implementation and Discipline the bully scale (using yes and no ' not sure groups). Composite df F Sig. Discipline bully 75 14.840 .000 British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 93
  • 12. them to detention or reported their misbehavior to the principal’ (p. 206). The dual role of guidance counsellors will be further discussed below. Work with the bully/work with the victim Guidance counsellors also endorsed work with the bully and work with the victim. This suggests that counsellors would endorse work with the bully and work with the victim as strategies but not as strongly as they would endorse discipline the bully and enlist other adults. These results are consistent with Bauman et al.’s (2008) findings. In a recent study by Sherer and Nickerson (2010), school psychologists reported that the most frequently used anti-bullying strategies in their schools related to working with the bullies and victims. In a study by Jacobsen and Bauman (2007) it was found that school counsellors with anti-bullying training may perceive relational bullying as more serious and be more likely to intervene in incidents of relational bullying than counsellors who did not have anti-bullying training. In the current study, bullying training did not significantly impact on participants’ scores for the work with the bully and work with the victim scales. It is likely that guidance counsellors in this province, because of their formal education, would elect to work with the bully and victim, regardless of having received anti-bullying training or not. Interestingly, the sex of the guidance counsellor affected how they would respond to the bullying scenario, with females more likely than males to endorse work with the victim as a strategy. Implications for this finding may include the need for counsellor education programmes to ensure that their graduates are comfortable working with victims as an anti-bullying strategy, regardless of their sex or gender. As a workplace implication, discussions at the school level may need to take place to ensure all counsellors see the importance of working with the victim. These implications provoke further curiosity and may be a place for future study. Bullying programmes and guidance counsellor responses In the current study, neither the presence of a school bullying programme or training in addressing bullying was associated with how guidance counsellors responded to bullying. These findings were in contrast to Bauman et al.’s (2008) study which found that participants who indicated the presence of a specific anti-bullying programme or had received anti-bullying training were less likely to ignore the incident. In the current study, there was low variability in scores on the ignore the incident scale. Thus, almost all participants reported that they would not ignore the bullying incident. This included those participants with and without school anti-bullying programmes and personal anti-bullying training. It is possible that if the ignore the incident scale had more variability in the current study it may have resulted in a more consistent finding with the Bauman et al. (2008) study. Having said that, given that almost half of school psychologists in one study considered anti-bullying policies ineffective (Sherer & Nickerson, 2010), and the possibility that bullying intervention programmes influence attitudes and self-perceptions rather than anti-bullying behaviour (Merrell et al., 2008), it is possible that guidance counsellors’ responses to bullying situations are influenced by a complex array of factors, including the possibility of school anti-bullying policies, programmes or training, along with other factors. This is also in line with a systemic perspective on bullying. 94 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
  • 13. Implications for counsellors and areas for future study Because of the complex nature of bullying and the contribution of a vast array of systemic factors, it is important for guidance counsellors to consider such factors when handling bullying in schools. Guidance counsellors can have an impact on many of these areas, such as peer influences, school climate and parenting. Some guidance counsellors have skills and training in areas (e.g. conflict resolution, anger management, parent skills, school-wide intervention) that can have an impact on many of the factors that mitigate bullying. Guidance counsellors play a critical role in the prevention and resolution of bullying in schools. Through the delivery of preventative programmes and conflict resolution, guidance counsellors help students resolve conflicts and develop respectful relationships. School guidance counsellors can teach lessons about the types of bullying and how to ask adults for help if pupils are being bullied. Bullies and victims can benefit from supportive counselling (Clarke & Kiselica, 1997) and guidance counsellors can provide these services. The research shows that the best outcomes from anti-bullying programmes tend to be obtained in schools that have the strongest commitment to the programme and typically have a staff member coordinating the programme under strong adminis- trative support. As stated previously, one of the goals of the school guidance programme is to promote preventative programmes on a school-wide basis on topics such as violence prevention and bullying. Given the guidance counsellor’s role in the support of the school guidance programme, bullying prevention and programming is one of the many social and developmental areas where guidance counsellor expertise is essential. In preparation for such roles, counsellor education should include bullying prevention and intervention training. Dual role There is a long-standing literature on the dual roles counsellors may face in the context of a school system (e.g. Law, 1978, 1979). By virtue of the work environment, school counsellors may face ethical dilemmas because of the multiple roles they play and the inherent conflicts in these roles (Remley & Herlihy, 2005). In small schools, the student population does not warrant the appointment of a full-time guidance counsellor, so it is common for guidance counsellors to have teaching duties in these settings. Similarly, in rural settings, it may be difficult for counsellors to avoid the dual role of counsellor/administrator. In the current study, 22% of participants indicated that they had teaching duties and 55% indicated that they worked in a rural setting. As a teacher/counsellor or administrator/counsellor, such professionals may have to act as disciplinarians (e.g. giving detentions) and evaluators (e.g. giving grades on course work). Such responsibilities can create a power differential between counsellor and client/student (Kitchener & Harding, 1990). Power differentials along with incompatible expectations and divergent responsibilities are the factors used to determine the risk of harm in a dual relationship (Kitchener & Harding, 1990). According to role theory, conflict occurs when the expectations associated with one role require the person to act in a way that is incompatible with the other role (Kitchener, 1988). It is not difficult to comprehend the negative effect that a power differential or role conflict can have on the establishment of a therapeutic relationship between counsellor and student. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 95
  • 14. Given the reality of small, rural schools in Newfoundland and Labrador and the budgetary constraints they face, guidance counsellors will probably continue to find themselves in such dual roles. Although such roles present significant ethical challenges, they are a reality, and counsellors need to be prepared to ethically practise within such dual roles. This realisation should begin during counsellor education whereby counsellors should be taught not only to consider avoidance as a strategy, but also how to ethically practise while in a dual role. Professional counselling associations often provide ethical decision-making models to aid counsellors who may be facing an ethical dilemma involving dual roles. In addition, consultation with fellow colleagues is a highly useful strategy to get advice on how to counteract role conflicts. Given the strong endorsement of the discipline the bully scale, the implications for counsellors in dual roles such as counsellor/teacher and counsellor/administrator is worthy of future study. Conclusions The current study focused on how guidance counsellors would report handling a specific incident of verbal-relational bullying. Participants were unlikely to ignore the incident and most likely to enlist other adults and discipline the bully. The guidance counsellor’s role in bullying prevention and programming, coupled with the ethical guidelines they follow, make ignore the incident an unlikely strategy. In the current study, the presence of a school bullying programme or prevention/ intervention training was not associated with how guidance counsellors responded to bullying. These findings were in contrast to related research. Guidance counsellors’ responses to bullying situations are probably influenced by a complex array of factors, including school policies, programmes and training, along with other systemic factors. Thus, guidance counsellor training and supervision in the prevention of, and intervention into, school bullying is important, but only part of the solution for addressing this complex problem. Guidance counsellors play a critical role in the prevention and remediation of bullying in schools. Guidance counsellors, along with teachers and administrators, have the potential to create a school climate conducive to safety. Acknowledgements The authors of this study would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Sheri Bauman for permission to use the HBQ and her helpful guidance during this research. Notes on contributors Michleen Power-Elliott is a graduate student in the Counselling Psychology programme at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has been teaching in the province since 2002. She has a keen interest in bullying intervention and prevention and has been actively involved in bullying prevention at various levels of the school system. Greg Harris is an Associate Professor (Counselling Psychology) at Memorial University and a Registered Psychologist in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. 96 M. Power-Elliott and G.E. Harris
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