Bullying doesn’t just affect victims, says Pepler

Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor in Psychology in York’s Faculty of Health and scientific co-director of PREVNet, a network of Canadian researchers and organizations focused on healthy relationships for youth, has studied bullying and children of abused women and sees similarities between the two, reported Canwest News Service Dec. 14 in a story about a British study of how bullying affects bystanders.

“The dynamics may not be very different,” Pepler says. “It’s quite distressing to watch someone else being hurt.’’

She’s spent hundreds of hours observing children in classrooms and on playgrounds, she says, and 85 per cent of bullying incidents are witnessed by another child. Without anti-bullying programs in place, children intervene to defend each other in about one of every 10 bullying incidents, she says, but with anti-bullying programs, that rate more than doubles and they’re remarkably effective at defusing situations where someone is being picked on.

“If you’re in a school or a classroom where the school climate or the class climate is one where bullying is tolerated, the relationships aren’t healthy, the relationships aren’t safe and there’s probably generalized anxiety about that,’’ she says.

Falling on sand from playground equipment means fewer broken arms: study

Children who fall off playground equipment and land on sand are far less likely to break an arm than those who take a tumble onto a wood-chip surface, a study has found, wrote The Canadian Press Dec. 14.

In fact, the study by Toronto researchers concluded that the risk of arm fracture after such a spill is almost five times higher on engineered wood chips than on sand. Other injury types are also more likely with wood-chip surfaces.

The Hospital for Sick Children-York University study found there were 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student months with wood chips compared to 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student months with sand.

About half the arm fractures experienced by children involved the forearm bone near the wrist (distal radius), while more than a quarter were upper arm breaks above the elbow.

“We found fewer injuries overall than we expected on playgrounds, which shows that the Canadian Standards Association requirement for playground surfaces is protecting children,’’ said senior author Alison Macpherson, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health. “This study suggests schools could reduce the number of broken arms even further by choosing sand.’’

  • The study was also mentioned on CKDH Radio in Amherst, NB, Dec. 14.

York receives grant for European Union Centre of Excellence

York University has received almost $500,000 to establish a European Union Centre of Excellence, a facility that will complement its already extensive European Union studies and programs, wrote the North York Mirror Dec. 14.

York is receiving a $480,000 grant over three years from the European Commission, which governs the European Union.

The funding will be used to integrate the university’s existing research, teaching, outreach and networking activities on Europe and the European Union. The money will also allow York to introduce new programs on European Union-Canada relations.

York is recognized as a leader in the field. Over the last few years, it has attracted many European-focused faculty from many disciplines, including law, political science, business, public administration and humanities.

German way has advantages

Under Germany’s constitution, the head of government, the chancellor, is chosen by a vote of elected members of the legislature, the Bundestag, at the opening of the legislative session after an election, wrote Barbara Cameron, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Dec. 15.

In Canada, the Standing Orders of the Commons could be amended to provide for the selection by majority vote of the person who has the support of the members to assume the position of head of government.

The vote would be held at the start of a new Parliament after the vote for speaker, and any time during the life of a Parliament that the position of prime minister becomes vacant.

To avoid any constitutional concerns, the vote could be framed as a recommendation to the governor general. The change wouldn’t interfere with the real powers enjoyed by the governor general but would significantly reduce the powers exercised (and abused) by an incumbent prime minister in the name of the governor general.

It would clarify the relationship between the PM, cabinet and elected representatives of the people, a matter around which there was a great deal of confusion last year, wrote Cameron.

Hamilton hosts a glitzy tribute for a legend of Cuban dance

In every way, last week’s tribute to the great Alicia Alonso, champion of the ballet, was a perfectly befitting expression not only of the woman’s character but of the spirit of her dance — at once lively and joyful, artful and sophisticated, wrote The Hamilton Spectator Dec. 15.

Her favourite chef, Francisco Perez Alvarez, to appreciative applause, approached the podium just before the dinner was served and explained in Spanish what the company was about to enjoy: plantain soup, creole rice and numerous other fine dishes that seemed more flavourful for being spoken of in the accents of their native tongue.

York University scholar Pastor Valle-Garay translated Alvarez’s words for the gathering and concluded by saying: “I hope you realize I made up the whole damned thing. I’m from Nicaragua. What do I know about Cuban cooking?” Typical of the evening’s sparkle.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about NASA’s latest space telescope, on CTV News, Dec. 14.