Texas elementary public school counselors' interactions with families of students who are bullies or victims: A qualitative study

Date

2012-05

Authors

Murlette, Brenice Menzies

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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify themes and strategies used when a certified Texas public school counselor learns of a bullying situation. This study identified if the families of students involved in a bullying situation (the bully, victim, or bystander) were contacted and by what means this communication took place. The current literature on bullying in the schools is extensive. Yet there has been an inconsistency in the literature and previous studies in the definition of bullying. In this study, a specific definition for bullying behavior, as well as the different roles of participants in a bullying situation were described as part of the survey for consistency in the research. The research questions were piloted by two school counselors and to fulfill the objectives of this study the following questions were researched: (a) When a school counselor becomes aware of a bullying situation what actions do they take? (b) Is there a protocol, policy, or procedure in place for a bullying situation? (c) What percent of the time do you contact the family of students involved in a bullying situation? Students who are the bully, victim, or bystander - are these parents contacted? (d) What are the methods of communication with families whose children have been involved in a bullying situation? (e) Do you feel it is effective contacting the family of students involved in a bullying situation? The demographic profile, years of experience, and prior education or training on bullying was also asked.

Participants were 28 certified Texas public school counselors from the North Texas Area. Region 10 sent an email encouraging school counselors to participate in the survey. Region 10 is an Education Service Center which is composed of 80 public school districts and 40 public charter schools. Region 10 is the second largest Education Service Center in Texas. Region 10 encompasses Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Rockwall, and part of Van Zandt Counties. The survey was posted online at a secure research website, Psychdata.com. Participant consent was directly implied by the participant's responding to the questionnaire and submitting anonymous response via Psychdata.com. The survey included a questionnaire with an explanation of purpose, the definitions, and specific research procedures. Open ended questions allowed the participant to share their experiences and strategies in an essay type answer. The demographic profile, years of experience, and prior education or training on bullying was also asked. The survey was for certified Texas Public School Counselors working with pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Data was examined to identify themes and strategies used by school counselors when learning of a bullying situation and if information is being shared with the families of Texas school children when they are involved in a bullying situation. Through triangulated data analysis the findings included the strategies school counselors used and their approach to communicating with the families of students involved in a bullying incident. Conclusions, implications, and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

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Keywords

Psychology, Education, Bullying, Family-counselor interactions, School counselors, Texas

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