School Counselors Not Trained to Address Teen Dating Violence, Study Finds

In the report, “Adolescent Dating Violence: A National Assessment of School Counselors’ Perceptions and Practices” researchers surveyed 550 school counselors about adolescent dating violence (ADV) and current practices for dealing with it. The majority of counselors reported that have dealt with ADV but haven’t had any training on proper protocol for helping survivors.
It’s no secret that dating violence is a big problem in the United States. According to the report’s press release, past studies have linked adolescent dating violence with everything from thoughts of suicide to unhealthy weight gain.

Major findings from the report (via the press release) include:

  • 81.3 percent of school counselors reported that they did not have a protocol in their schools to respond to an incident of dating violence.
  • 90 percent of school counselors reported that in the past two years, there had been no staff training to assist survivors of dating violence, and their school did not have a committee to address health and safety issues including dating violence.
  • Despite the lack of staff training, 61 percent of school counselors reported that they had assisted a survivor of dating violence in the past two years. Most of the survivors who received help were female students.
  • The main barriers identified by school staff in assisting survivors of dating violence were lack of formal training and lack of time. School counselors also perceived that dating violence is a minor issue and that even if they want to help, parents might not approve of the school’s interference.
  • The most common method of responding to a survivor was calling the parents and guardians or referral to legal authorities.
  • Only a little more than 1 in 10 school counselors referred a survivor to child protection agencies and school nurses for legal or medical assistance. Study authors also found that school personnel who received formal training perceived dating violence to be a serious problem, and were significantly more likely to assist survivors of dating violence.

The report concluded with four major takeaways,

First, organizations with concerns for school health (ie, American School Health Association, National Association of School Nurses, and American School Counselors Association) should provide continuing education for school personnel including school counselors on how to assist student survivors of ADV and how to improve the ADV prevention efforts in schools.
Second, schools should periodically assess their student body to determine the extent of ADV and its epidemiologic characteristics.
Third, advocacy efforts should use the results from the current study to provide information to legislators and school administrators regarding the role schools could and should play in preventing ADV and providing assistance to ADV survivors.
Finally, school counselors and pediatricians need to reach out to one another to form partnerships between counselors and providers to help augment their training on anticipatory guidance strategies and skill building in dealing with ADV.

juvenile-justice-system_David-BackesDavid Backes joined the Prichard Communications team in mid-2012 as an account executive with a focus on social media and digital communications. David began his career as a website copywriter and quickly transitioned into the marketing and advertising side of online communications. Always striving to add to his digital toolbox, David now has several years’ experience in social media marketing, search engine optimization, marketing automation, web design and development, and online usability testing and analysis.
*Image at top via Wikipedia

Updated: July 18 2012