VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Sexually Active and Sexually Questioning Students: The Role of School Counselors
Vaughn Millner and Amy W. Upton
The high school dropout rate, a national concern, is strongly related to adolescent pregnancy and indirectly to sexual identity questioning. In addition to a higher dropout rate for adolescent parents, early parenting reduces the likelihood adolescents will continue to college. School counselors are poised to support students’ healthy sexual decision making, thus potentially reducing barriers to students’ successful educational outcome. In this article, we present a systemic, ecological counseling systems approach to addressing risky adolescent sexual behavior in the complex ecology of the school. Using the ecological systems model, we highlight ways to reduce school dropout rates by examining school counselors’ roles as collaborators, leaders, and student advocates. A primary aim of this article is to draw attention to school counselors’ current and potential roles and professional practices as they relate to helping students who are exhibiting risky sexual behavior or sexual questioning. The authors call for school counselors to recognize and act upon the alignment of professional standards and professional counseling roles as advocates, change agents, collaborators, and key resources for other school personnel. Implications for ethical decision making, training, and research are addressed.