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On Thursday March 10, 2011, the White House convened a conference to address the issue of bullying. First Lady Michelle and President Obama welcomed parents, students, researchers, industry leaders and others to discuss the negative effects of bullying and highlight some of the best-practices and promising approaches in prevention and response. I was honored to be invited to be a part of an expert panel to share with attendees what we have learned through our efforts at the Cyberbullying Research Center. You can see video of the proceedings and my contributions here.

Other researchers on the panel were Sue Swearer (University of Nebraska at Lincoln), Catherine Bradshaw (Johns Hopkins), and George Sugai (University of Connecticut). We spoke about noteworthy efforts to address bullying in general, and I focused on the unique characteristics and strategies associated with cyberbullying. Additionally, Sameer and I – along with these and other researchers – wrote topic-specific white papers for the conference.

Overall, it was a great experience. I enjoyed being at the White House and seeing many friends and colleagues from around the country who are as passionate as I am about addressing the problem of bullying and peer harassment. A lot of great ideas were shared, and I am hopeful that attendees will continue to work together to develop and implement comprehensive anti-bullying initiatives.

I was also reassured by the number of laypersons in attendance who identified needing additional research as essential. Especially needed are more systematic evaluations of bullying policies, programs, and curricula. If nothing else, I am hopeful that this event raised national and even international awareness about a problem that some still dismiss as lacking import. Try telling that to Tina Meier, Sirdeaner Walker, Kevin Epling, or Kirk and Laura Smalley, all of whom were at the White House because they had lost a child to suicide linked to bullying. We continue to have so much work to do, but I remain encouraged and undaunted.

4 Comments
  1. Joseph

    The WHITE HOUSE summit was superb.

    Here is a question: what "additional" research do we need? I seem to swimming in so much data from Canada, US, EU and Australia – is there a "gap" in the literature that will help get closer to the panacea?

  2. Dude

    Thank god for this. The laws on cyberbullying are sparse or nonexistent. We need a uniting federal law on this issue.

  3. Kosty

    After listening to the White House conference, I found myself agreeing with the three part message about bullying. Children need to be actively supervised. Whether we are parents or teachers. Children require supervision. The second part of the messaage stated that we need to teach what we want. I think PBIS provides a successful means for this in schools. Students need to learn what appropriate behavior is. This behavior needs to be reinforced throughout the school. The third part is that academic success limits bullying. This reinforces the need for an RTI model in schools. If schools can address student needs, students who normally feel frustrated in the school setting will begin to have academic success.

    I also agree that it does begin with the climate of the school. Schools need to create a positive, welcoming climate. One where bullying is unacceptable. The conference provided an array of ideas on how to combat bullying.

  4. Kkwilmath5

    After doing research on Cyber bullying I have come to the conclusion that we can talk about it all day long and have plenty of great ides but until we put those talks and ideas into action it is all a waste of time. Cyber bullying is not going to go away or get better it is only going to get worse. I am all for freedom of speech but there comes a point where we have to draw the line. This is one of those times. Instead of putting so much effort and money on needless things lets start to pour our resources on educationg students, parents, teachers and school administrators on how to deal with cyber bullying and what the laws are and lets get some stricter laws regarding bullying. It is time to show the bullies that bullying is not going to be tolerated!!!

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