York’s Pepler takes anti-bullying message into the classroom

Bullying can be stopped. That’s the message York Professor Debra Pepler, an internationally renowned expert on bullying, delivered to local school children on Nov. 14 as part of National Bullying Awareness Week.

Right: Debra Pepler works with mentors and school children during an interactive workshop as part of National Bullying Awareness Week

“We need to encourage children to talk about bullying,” said Pepler. “Bullying hurts both the child who is doing the bullying and the one who is being bullied. Recent research indicates that almost half of children report being victimized during the school term. Many students also report that they have bullied others. But it can be stopped.”

Pepler visited Ursula Franklin Academy in the High Park neighbourhood of Toronto to speak about the problem of bullying and lead children and youth in a series of prevention exercises. A group of Grade 7 and 8 students from nearby Runnymede Public School took part in the educational activities, supported by high-school mentors.

Northern Lights Public School in Aurora also participated in the exercises using videoconferencing and collaborative technologies provided by York’s Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning Program (ABEL).  The ABEL technology will enable high school students from Ursula Franklin Academy to be “virtual mentors” to students at both of the public schools in weeks to come.

During the afternoon sessions, students learned about the problem, worked together to identify “hot spots” for bullying in their schools and discussed creative strategies to help a peer who is being bullied or victimized.

The event coincided with National Bullying Awareness Week, which Pepler helped to launch with Mayor David Miller at Toronto City Hall earlier in the day.

This activity is sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, promoting public awareness of health research for public health and in this instance Pepler’s research, which is aimed at developing a national strategy to help children and adolescents throughout Canada. The CIHR also aims to raise awareness of health research being done by Canadian researchers and educating the public about its benefits.

Pepler is a member of York’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, co-founder of the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying, and recognized by educators, parents and experts around the world for her ground-breaking, interventionist research on aggression and victimization among children and adolescents.

For more information on bullying, visit the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying Web site.