I wrote a lengthy blog entry about this and other cases of LGBT students being bullied and harassed and the impact that school counselors can have in their communities about this issue. Certainly, in the aftermath of a crisis such as this, we have a role to play in helping a school to heal, but I would also challenge that we have a role to play in helping the school community to learn from this experience. There may be no punitive criminal consequences for the alleged bullies, but the hope would be that there are consequences for the greater community at large, such as:
- A strong bullying and harassment prevention and education program for students, including a focus on cyberbullying. This article from September discusses the impact that the website, Formsprings, which allows people to comment anonymously, was having on Jamey. In the latest issue of School Counselor Magazine (published by ASCA), there is an article by Renee Hobbs entitled Digital and Media Literacy that discusses the importance of having conversations with adolescents about ethics and technology.
- Starting with the adults in the building, the creation of a school-culture where it is understood that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.
- Clear ways to report bullying, including anonymously, with clear consequences for such behavior.
- Counseling support for both those who are bullied and the bullies themselves.
- Education for faculty and staff on LGBT issues and the vulnerabilities specific to that population.
The following article cited is available to ASCA members at www.schoolcounselor.org:
Hobbs, R. (2011) Digital and Media Literacy. School Counselor (Nov/Dec 2011)