Anti-Bullying Fiasco - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My seven year old came home from school to inform me that her counselor pulled the kids from the class to watch a movie about Bullies, and then had the class vote for who was the biggest bully in the class and then had the class confront the kids that were labeled as bullies while the teacher (counselor) backed up their accusations with stories from the "bad" kids neighbors!  This was not denied by the counselor, she did deny having them actually vote but then later commented that one of the boys my daughter brought up "didn't even get that many votes", so I didn't really know what to say about this. 

 

Knowing that I was hearing this from the perspective of a seven year old, I went first into the counselor to report what my kid got out of her lesson and let her know what my daughter had actually "learned" from the lesson, and that I felt she had coached my daughter and her classmates into bullying the bullies.

 

The gist of our discussion included the counselor asserting that "all the research" states that kids must stand up to bullies in groups, and that bullies are "as a rule" anti-social personalities that will end up in jail. Keep in mind that she is referencing specific second-graders here, and discussing the various support or lack their of she is getting from their parents. Very unprofessional and weird, IMO.

 

I repeatedly asked what research she was referring to, and was finally given a book aimed at elementary students written by a cancer doctor that "must have been peer reviewed". Even if it is a good program, in what universe if publicly humiliating kids a good method of teaching anything?

 

Long story short, just wanted to put this out there for other parents. I had no idea my daughter was going into regular counselor sessions, apparently this is the new norm. I have heard of other counseling sessions this year, but they seemed normal to me. I am thinking of trying to opt out in the future as I don't respect this woman's judgment and don't relish the idea of constantly trying to undo what she teaches my kid. All week I have heard about "how bad" these three kids are, the teacher said so!

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#2 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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Schools routinely send the counselors in to teach lessons. 

 

I think the counselor was completely out of line. How does she know the class was not bullying a perfectly nice person? I saw where they pulled this in high school and they pulled out this really nice kid and had her sit in the middle while everyone told her why they hated her. It was awful!

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#3 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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That is appalling!!! Have you gone to the principal yet about this? I'm interested as to what their response might be.
I'd also suggest talking this over with some of the other parents in the class. They may not know what is going on, and I'm sure they would like to.
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#4 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 06:00 PM
 
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jaw.gif

 

The "stand against the bully" idea is to stand beside the victim and say "we won't allow you to hurt them", not to surround the bully and bully him/her.


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#5 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 06:42 PM
 
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I'd talk to the principal too, and be very pissed about it. Standing up to a bully doesn't mean bullying the bully which is exactly what this kind of thing does.

 

And as Lisa pointed out, what happens when all the kids in the class decide it would be a perfect opportunity to bully a good kid even more and with the go ahead of the 'adults' in charge.


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#6 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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jaw.gif

 

The "stand against the bully" idea is to stand beside the victim and say "we won't allow you to hurt them", not to surround the bully and bully him/her.


That.

 

 

What the counselor did will result not in bullies feeling shamed about their behavior and stopping, but will make cliques (read: groups of bullies) gang up to tell the teacher than their victims are "bullies" so the teachers will bully them too. NOTE: I don't think it would work to stop bullying if the class DID pick on an actual bully.

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#7 of 28 Old 02-10-2011, 08:20 PM
 
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I would be very angry about something like that being pulled in my dd's class.  I think you should report it to the principal and her supervisor (counselors and school nurses often have a different supervisor than the principal though they are also under the principal).  That is not what the counselor sessions should ever look like no matter what the grade level.  I would be very concerned if someone who believes a child's life is determined in second grade is a counselor at my child's school, especially if they are giving lessons on how to effectively bully their peers in a group.

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#8 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 04:23 AM
 
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In our school you must sign a consent form for your child to be part of a counseling group, seen individually, or be part of "friendship groups".  I was oblivious to this until last year when my ds was part of a "friendship group", and being taken out of the classroom, without my knowledge.  I have since made it clear that this isn't to happen, I have not signed a permission slip, and I have spoken with the teachers about it.  I feel pretty strongly that I want to be informed if my child is out of the classroom for non academic reasons, and I want to know what the plan is.  

 

I would speak with the school principal as well as someone on a district level.  This is grown up bullying.

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#9 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 04:47 AM
 
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NOT right at all. My school has an antibullying program, but it doesn't look anything like that. I think the first line of defense is to tell the bully to stop. If that doesn't work you tell a grown-up and if that doesn't work you tell a different grown-up and avoid them or something. DD has some kind of 4-point plan. I'd go to the principal about it and if that doesn't work - go to the school board. Not all "counselors" are well trained. Do you know anyone else in the field with more training? Perhaps they could recommend a better program. I have a feeling your counselor is mistinterpreting something. 


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#10 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 05:24 AM
 
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I think the research shows something about "peer disapproval" being the biggest deterrent to bullying. Maybe the counselor thinks she's a 2nd grader? Grrrr...

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#11 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 05:55 AM
 
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In our school you must sign a consent form for your child to be part of a counseling group, seen individually, or be part of "friendship groups".  I was oblivious to this until last year when my ds was part of a "friendship group", and being taken out of the classroom, without my knowledge.  I have since made it clear that this isn't to happen, I have not signed a permission slip, and I have spoken with the teachers about it.  I feel pretty strongly that I want to be informed if my child is out of the classroom for non academic reasons, and I want to know what the plan is.  

 

I would speak with the school principal as well as someone on a district level.  This is grown up bullying.



I think what the OP is talking about are classes that the counselor leads. It's becoming pretty standard fare in elementary schools around us. The kids go to "guidance class," and it's just treated as another specials class. OP, we often feel we are un-doing what the counselor teaches. The topics that we were given, like teaching kids how to diffuse conflict, are great topics, but it ends up being pretty crappy, standard stuff about "all drugs will kill you, never, ever, ever do them or you're a bad person" and sexual abuse info that's not accurate or helpful. Plus we had an excellent day when the counselor told the kids that they could be taken away from their parents and made to live with other people, which sent my highly anxious son into a tailspin.


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#12 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think what the OP is talking about are classes that the counselor leads. It's becoming pretty standard fare in elementary schools around us. The kids go to "guidance class," and it's just treated as another specials class. OP, we often feel we are un-doing what the counselor teaches. The topics that we were given, like teaching kids how to diffuse conflict, are great topics, but it ends up being pretty crappy, standard stuff about "all drugs will kill you, never, ever, ever do them or you're a bad person" and sexual abuse info that's not accurate or helpful. Plus we had an excellent day when the counselor told the kids that they could be taken away from their parents and made to live with other people, which sent my highly anxious son into a tailspin.

Thanks for explaining! These are extra classes that the kids go to every two weeks. VisionaryMom what you are describing is the reason we decided to just opt out of these "special" classes. I really don't trust the counselor's judgment and am not interested in trying to fend off her lessons. 

 



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I think the research shows something about "peer disapproval" being the biggest deterrent to bullying. Maybe the counselor thinks she's a 2nd grader? Grrrr...


Ha! That really is the impression I got! She really didn't seem to get the difference between empowering kids to deal with bullies themselves and manipulating a teacher-sanctioned gang-up and then throwing in her own "evidence" when she didn't feel like the kids were taking it seriously enough.

 

I think part of the problem was that she expressed that she has not been able to get any of the kids to open up about bullying and was really feeling the pressure to break through, so she forced the issue.

 

 

I will be going in on Monday to talk to the principal and opt out of the counselling classes. Honestly, the principal is a bit of a flake also so I don't expect any results but it can't really hurt to let her know what is going on. I do know that she is planning on making a internet poll for the high-schoolers, and would hope that it would be used internally only--but she may be planning on making it public. IMO, someone besides this counselor should at least think through the ramifications of that one.

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#13 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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In our school you must sign a consent form for your child to be part of a counseling group, seen individually, or be part of "friendship groups".  I was oblivious to this until last year when my ds was part of a "friendship group", and being taken out of the classroom, without my knowledge.  I have since made it clear that this isn't to happen, I have not signed a permission slip, and I have spoken with the teachers about it.  I feel pretty strongly that I want to be informed if my child is out of the classroom for non academic reasons, and I want to know what the plan is.  

 

I would speak with the school principal as well as someone on a district level.  This is grown up bullying.



I think what the OP is talking about are classes that the counselor leads. It's becoming pretty standard fare in elementary schools around us. The kids go to "guidance class," and it's just treated as another specials class. OP, we often feel we are un-doing what the counselor teaches. The topics that we were given, like teaching kids how to diffuse conflict, are great topics, but it ends up being pretty crappy, standard stuff about "all drugs will kill you, never, ever, ever do them or you're a bad person" and sexual abuse info that's not accurate or helpful. Plus we had an excellent day when the counselor told the kids that they could be taken away from their parents and made to live with other people, which sent my highly anxious son into a tailspin.


Yes, we have these too, and some of them are OK, and some just seem frivolous, though well intentioned.  It's a bug of mine though because I would prefer school time was used for more enrichment, not guidance classes.

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#14 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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Yes, we have these too, and some of them are OK, and some just seem frivolous, though well intentioned.  It's a bug of mine though because I would prefer school time was used for more enrichment, not guidance classes.


Oh, so would I. On one hand, I feel it's a huge intrusion, and on the other hand, I feel that the schools do so much social service work because parents can't/won't that it's just a natural extension of that. Unfortunately both of my children seem to have personalities that tend toward an absolute trust and belief in authority (which is just so counter to the way DH & I are that I'm not sure how it happened), but that's what frightens me about these classes.


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#15 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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That's terrible.  I can't imagine what that counselor was thinking!

 

Having said that, I also want to say that I think that some of the work that the counselor in our school does is wonderful, and I'm so glad that the kids are there to benefit from it.  Our counselors, who are actually social workers rather than guidance counselors, see kids individually, in small groups, and as whole classes.  If your child is seeing them one on one or in a small group they need permission. I think technically they need written permission before they come for a third time.  So, if a child becomes really upset at school, or gets into a conflict with another kid and needs to talk through it, the counselor can see them once.  Also if a child with ongoing counseling (usually on an IEP) wants to invite a friend to eat lunch with them they can.  In these cases the counselor generally calls and notifies the parent, but it's not formal.  However, after the second time a child comes to the counselor's office for any reason, then they ask for written permission and if parents deny it they can no longer go.

 

For whole group things it's different.  Our counselors do presentations about bullying and how to assert your self (appropriately, not the ridiculous stuff your cousnelor did).  They talk about skills like using your words to tell people you're angry, or how to ask a friend to play.  For these things the lesson is given to the whole class, without parental consent.  They also do some specific groups around things like "Good touch, bad touch", and in those cases they have specific permission slips that are geared to those lessons. 

 

I love our counselors and am really glad they are there.

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#16 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 07:11 PM
 
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wave.gif  Hi!  I'm a school counselor, and I like to think that I don't completely suck.  Even though almost every poster on this thread seems to have made the decision that their child's school counselor does.

 

In my opinion, the situation in the original post was COMPLETELY out-of-line and inappropriate.  I suspect that what that counselor was thinking was the power of the bystander in bullying situations, like Barbara Coloroso (I think?!?!?) described in "The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander."  Which placed a lot of emphasis on empowering the "silent majority" of kids.... the kids who just see bullying going on yet do not have the role as the bully or her victim.... to speak up on behalf of the victim.

 

But as a PP said, the bystanders need to do that as PEERS in a naturally-occuring situation.  A teacher manufacturing a situation to force the issue in front of every student is completely wrong and probably did more harm than good.  So a big thumbs down there.

 


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#17 of 28 Old 02-11-2011, 08:37 PM
 
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wave.gif  Hi!  I'm a school counselor, and I like to think that I don't completely suck.  Even though almost every poster on this thread seems to have made the decision that their child's school counselor does.

 



Did you read most of the posts?  I completely missed the part where most of us said school counselors suck.  I am sure you have to try to read things that aren't there when you talk to kids, but I didn't even see the part where anyone said anything against counselors so I am not sure what gave you the idea that most of us were trying to secretly convey that we think school counselors suck.  Most people said things along the same lines that you did about the lesson not being implemented in a constructive way and a few posters had something to say about the quality of that specific counselor.  The OP had a very real and serious concern that shouldn't be derailed by turning it into a discussion about the quality of school counselors in general.

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#18 of 28 Old 02-12-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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wave.gif  Hi!  I'm a school counselor, and I like to think that I don't completely suck.  Even though almost every poster on this thread seems to have made the decision that their child's school counselor does.

 



Did you read most of the posts?  I completely missed the part where most of us said school counselors suck.  I am sure you have to try to read things that aren't there when you talk to kids, but I didn't even see the part where anyone said anything against counselors so I am not sure what gave you the idea that most of us were trying to secretly convey that we think school counselors suck.  Most people said things along the same lines that you did about the lesson not being implemented in a constructive way and a few posters had something to say about the quality of that specific counselor.  The OP had a very real and serious concern that shouldn't be derailed by turning it into a discussion about the quality of school counselors in general.



You are right.  I was responding to the tone of many of the posts, as opposed to the actual content.  I should not have done this.

 

The entire "Learning at School" forum is often such a painful place for me to visit because I do work in a public school, yet many of the posts are so negative toward public school employees.  I think I need to stop visiting this forum altogether.  With all sincerity, thank you for the reminder.

 

OP-  Sorry if I derailed your thread.  I wish you and your second grader nothing but the best and hope you can resolve this situation.


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#19 of 28 Old 02-12-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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wave.gif  Hi!  I'm a school counselor, and I like to think that I don't completely suck.  Even though almost every poster on this thread seems to have made the decision that their child's school counselor does.

 



Did you read most of the posts?  I completely missed the part where most of us said school counselors suck.  I am sure you have to try to read things that aren't there when you talk to kids, but I didn't even see the part where anyone said anything against counselors so I am not sure what gave you the idea that most of us were trying to secretly convey that we think school counselors suck.  Most people said things along the same lines that you did about the lesson not being implemented in a constructive way and a few posters had something to say about the quality of that specific counselor.  The OP had a very real and serious concern that shouldn't be derailed by turning it into a discussion about the quality of school counselors in general.



You are right.  I was responding to the tone of many of the posts, as opposed to the actual content.  I should not have done this.

 

The entire "Learning at School" forum is often such a painful place for me to visit because I do work in a public school, yet many of the posts are so negative toward public school employees.  I think I need to stop visiting this forum altogether.  With all sincerity, thank you for the reminder.

 

OP-  Sorry if I derailed your thread.  I wish you and your second grader nothing but the best and hope you can resolve this situation.


I'm sorry that the LAS forum is painful for you, but I don't think the op was doing anything more than expressing concern for a particular intervention her child experienced.  FWIW, I am a clinician, I have my kids in PS, I love their teachers, and their education is going really well.  I do think there is a lot to fit in during the day, and while I value the role of the guidance counselor, I also think that for me, I would choose more enrichment, academic or the arts, over scheduled guidance time, esp. in the elem. school.  That's just me.  But I have nothing but positive feelings towards the schools my kids attend.  I think PS is sincerely underrated by many folks...but that's another thread!

 

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wave.gif  Hi!  I'm a school counselor, and I like to think that I don't completely suck.  Even though almost every poster on this thread seems to have made the decision that their child's school counselor does.

 



Did you read most of the posts?  I completely missed the part where most of us said school counselors suck.  I am sure you have to try to read things that aren't there when you talk to kids, but I didn't even see the part where anyone said anything against counselors so I am not sure what gave you the idea that most of us were trying to secretly convey that we think school counselors suck.  Most people said things along the same lines that you did about the lesson not being implemented in a constructive way and a few posters had something to say about the quality of that specific counselor.  The OP had a very real and serious concern that shouldn't be derailed by turning it into a discussion about the quality of school counselors in general.



You are right.  I was responding to the tone of many of the posts, as opposed to the actual content.  I should not have done this.

 

The entire "Learning at School" forum is often such a painful place for me to visit because I do work in a public school, yet many of the posts are so negative toward public school employees.  I think I need to stop visiting this forum altogether.  With all sincerity, thank you for the reminder.

 

OP-  Sorry if I derailed your thread.  I wish you and your second grader nothing but the best and hope you can resolve this situation.


It can be hard to visit this forum. But it helps when you remember that one of the main reasons for the forum is to get advice on problems, and since it's learning at school those problems are going to be related to school. So they aren't going to be starting threads about what they love about their school nearly as much. 


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#21 of 28 Old 02-12-2011, 10:35 PM
 
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In third grade, I was a bully.  Between trying really hard to fit in (I was always the loser new kid with no friends) and struggling with a screwed up home life and what I think looking back was depression, I kind of fell into it.  I was actually a really nice person even then but it got beat out I guess.

 

At any rate, my teacher ended up bullying me... or at least it really felt like it at the time.  It wasn't ongoing but I don't think she handled me appropriately at all.  I remember how absolutely horrible I felt.  I didn't MEAN to hurt anyone, I just really wanted friends and to fit in.  I still remember the strand of spit on her mouth as she was quietly yelling (does that make sense) at me.  I don't remember what she was saying anymore but I definitely remember how I felt.  I was scared and I just wanted to run away.  I've been in lots of trouble before and I didn't feel like that... I only remember that what she was saying to me isn't anywhere near how she should have handled it.  Well, I do remember her saying she was bullied as a kid... I guess she was taking that out on me.

 

I think I'd call the parents of the 'bullies' and make sure they are okay and that the parents know what happened.  The kids might not have told them.  It doesn't matter what they were doing to the other students, they deserve support against an adult who thinks it is okay to lead a bullying session against them.  Bullies can do some downright awful things (I have been on both ends... ) but that doesn't make a teacher sanctioned class hate fest okay ever.  especially not with 7 year olds.  I can't imagine there are too many 7 year olds who bully just for the fun of it anyway... they need adults who can actually help them.  Yes, the other students need to learn how to stick together against a bully... but when a bully gets 'turned in' so to speak, it shouldn't be about rubbing their face in it.

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#22 of 28 Old 02-13-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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I think it's important for people who know what good and normal schools are like to contribute to these sorts of threads so we don't all end up feeling like this sort of absurd behavior is everywhere. =D

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#23 of 28 Old 02-13-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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You are right.  I was responding to the tone of many of the posts, as opposed to the actual content.  I should not have done this.

 

The entire "Learning at School" forum is often such a painful place for me to visit because I do work in a public school, yet many of the posts are so negative toward public school employees.  I think I need to stop visiting this forum altogether.  With all sincerity, thank you for the reminder.

 

OP-  Sorry if I derailed your thread.  I wish you and your second grader nothing but the best and hope you can resolve this situation.


I can see why you feel the way you do. There are forms on Mothering I don't visit!

 

the school social worker at my DDs middle school is one of my favorite people on the planet. My DD has some sn, and the social worker has been WONDERFUL to her. Because of some of my DDs issues, I see sides of her school and the staff that many people don't, and I have the greatest respect for them. I send them love and light, and deeply appreciate what they do.

 

It doesn't make an interesting thread, though. I don't need to vent. I don't need tips from other parents. It's just good stuff.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 28 Old 02-13-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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Not all "counselors" are well trained. Do you know anyone else in the field with more training? Perhaps they could recommend a better program. I have a feeling your counselor is mistinterpreting something. 

 

My apologies for whatever part I may have taken in slandering all school counselors. 
 

My mother was a school social worker for the last 10 or so of years of her career before she retired. She was an EXCELLENT  counselor. She ran a private practice, too as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. We are currently seeing a counselor with our daughter who came highly recommended, but has "only" a counseling certificate. I don't think all school counselors suck but I do think the amount of training is highly variable. I don't think training is the end all be all (as evidenced by using our own counselor who is lesser trained) but I do think more training might have prevented THIS particular counselor from acting like a second grader (as a PP pointed out) and would have given her the necessary tools to respond to the  "what research"  question.

 

I think the situation is appalling and was trying to mitigate the counselors blame by suggesting that perhaps she just isn't well trained. It is appalling to have adults and children ganging up on another kid, for ANY reason. There are ways to handle these things and that's not it. 

 

I love my small local public school for the record - title I funds, free lunch (for the majority), "failing" under NCLB school, for what it's worth. 


Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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#25 of 28 Old 02-13-2011, 03:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

the school social worker at my DDs middle school is one of my favorite people on the planet. My DD has some sn, and the social worker has been WONDERFUL to her. Because of some of my DDs issues, I see sides of her school and the staff that many people don't, and I have the greatest respect for them. I send them love and light, and deeply appreciate what they do.

 

It doesn't make an interesting thread, though. I don't need to vent. I don't need tips from other parents. It's just good stuff.

 

Yes, people generally do not start threads just to say that their schools are meeting or exceeding their expectations, but to discuss a problem or vent--and responses often commiserate with them. I had a lot more to say last year when we were having problems with ds' school--this year he is at a new school that we are much happier with.
 


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#26 of 28 Old 02-13-2011, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here. I  wish we could have talked to the other parents, but we caught a flight on Saturday back to the states for medical reasons. I don't think we will be going back for at least six months, and don't have any of the other parents phone numbers. Honestly, I have more than enough going on right now but I do feel terribly for these children.

 

I also like counselors and am friends with many as my husband has been a teacher his whole career. I was just unaware as to the the extent of class time given  to counseling at our new school. Then to find out about this particular bullying lesson, leads me to have have serious doubts about this counselor's judgement. So if we had stayed longer, or if we end up being able to come home earlier we will be formally opting out on these lessons.

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#27 of 28 Old 02-25-2011, 12:13 PM
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Opting out addresses the issue for your kids. It's the right thing to do. If you have the energy though (and with family health & relocation challenges you may not!), I'd push it further. What the counselor did is shocking to me. No one has yet addressed (or if they did, I missed it and I apologize for not giving credit) the most disturbing issue, which is the serious breach of confidentiality her actions represent. If it's not against the rules of the school district, it is at best unethical to take her own insider's knowledge AS A COUNSELOR (that is, reports of the supposed bully's behavior from his or her neighbors) and share it with the child's peers as part of some bizarre public shaming ritual. UNBELIEVABLE.

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#28 of 28 Old 12-15-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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I'm a school counselor and when I talk about bullying, I ask the kids not to say names out loud in class. We discuss standing beside the child being bullied and walking them away from the situation, etc.  I would definitely talk to the principal so that he/she is aware.  That really bothers me and sounds damaging to the kiddos.  I'm not saying that counselor may not have other great qualitites, but she seems very misguided on this topic.


I'm a single working mom of 3 wonderful kiddos. 

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