Canada’s bullying ranking ‘surprising’

Canada’s ranking as the 12th worst country for bullying among 40 wealthy nations is an eye-opener, say the organizers of a childhood bullying prevention conference held at McMaster University, wrote The Hamilton Spectator May 29.

York University Distinguished Research Professor in psychology, Debra Pepler, a PREVNet co-director and member of York’s Faculty of Health, said people don’t understand the level of the problem. “Canadians see ourselves as nice…(but) our children are not doing well.”

Crucial to preventing youth bullying and violence is for parents and other adults to show and teach healthy relationships, said Pepler. “Parents need to help kids think critically about their behaviour and how to treat people respectfully.”

If Canadian children are to do well despite all the media and societal exposure to violence and aggression, then they require a lot of guidance and exemplary behaviour from adults, she added. “What children observe is far more important than what they’re rewarded and punished for. We need to be much more mindful of what we teach them through our own behaviour as we get excited over hockey and ultimate fight clubs when they hear us say ‘kill them’.”

Instant star: How Justin got so big

Keeping up that intense feeling of personal connection via the Internet is incredibly important in marketing to the Justin Bieber demographic, says Rob Bowman, who teaches popular music in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, wrote The Globe and Mail May 29.

“You’re appealing to a certain adolescent group who’ve got fairly innocent notions of romance,” explains the specialist in soul music and Grammy award winner for best album notes. “These 12- and 13-year-olds…it’s a huge part of the bonding aspect, this innocent crush.”

Those millions of young fans are attracted by the same characteristics as other teen heartthrobs, says Bowman, citing such boy band predecessors as the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync. “That’s following in a trend that started about 10, 15 years ago, where you have white groups packaging R&B but in a very safe, homogenized way.”

Discrimination, disrespect a fact for people living with disabilities

In principle, Canada has great human rights legislation, both provincially and federally, wrote the Toronto Star May 29 in a story citing several incidents of discrimination from the Canadian section of the Web site of Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI), a project developing a system to monitor human rights and discrimination in this country and around the world.

Based at York University, the Canadian arm of the global initiative is part of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified in March.

Across the world, DRPI is looking at the rights and access of people with disabilities. Do they have dignity? What are their perceptions of self-worth? Do they have autonomy, the ability to make choices and decisions affecting their own lives?

Cyberspace swallows Toronto’s phone book by the numbers

The telephone directory of 1904, the oldest hard copy at the Toronto Reference Library, had grown to 276 pages with 11,627 home and business listings, wrote the Toronto Star May 29 in a story about the demise of the print version of telephone listings. Back then, a name in the phone book was a tangible sign of prestige, of being wealthy enough to afford a telephone.

“There was a bit of class snobbery,” says Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “‘Oh, they’re not listed. They must not have a phone.’ The unwashed immigrants didn’t have phones.”

“Think of it as the start of the information age,” explains Middleton. “The phone directory was an early database that allowed you to access people.” The social media of its time. “We’ve always been fascinated with technology that enables us to connect with people,” he says.

York student connects Somali roots to Canadian culture

Huwaida Osman’s older siblings had a bumpier integration into Toronto life than she did, wrote the Toronto Star May 29 in a story about the first coordinator of Gashanti Unity, a networking group for Somali girls and young women.

Unlike her, they had to study English. Other Somali girls graduated only to disappear into marriage or low-end call centre jobs, but Osman’s parents were strict about school. “My dad wanted us all to go to university,” she says. “No ifs, ands or buts.”

Which is how she found herself in her third year of psychology at York University, feeling a growing panic about her career path. “I didn’t see myself as a doctor or a psychologist, doing this every day for the rest of my life,” she says. “It was scary.”

Teacher recognized for her engaging teaching style

Rosemary Paniccia (BA Hons. ’04), a teacher at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School, says the key to being a good teacher is showing students you care and having a genuine interest in their lives and success, wrote the Beach-Riverdale Mirror May 29.

The recipient of a Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence in the New Teacher of the Year category, Paniccia goes out of her way to show she cares by making her teaching as interesting as possible and getting students involved in the learning process.

“If I’m not interested, why should they be? My excitement hopefully gets them excited,” said the English, French and drama teacher.

Raised in an Italian-Canadian family from the Jane-Finch community, Paniccia graduated from York University with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and English before completing her bachelor of education degree at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in 2007.

Television still master of the media universe

The US-based Council for Research Excellence published an ambitious and landmark Consumer Mapping Study in the summer of 2009, wrote Douglas Barrett, CTV Chair in Broadcast Management at the Schulich School of Business at York University in the Toronto Star May 31 in a story about assumptions that television viewership is falling. While there is an extraordinary amount of data in the study, here is the key finding: When you add television use in the home, watching video on the Internet and watching video on mobile, the television share is a whopping 99 per cent. Even among younger age groups (18 to 24 and 25 to 34) the television share is 98 per cent.

So, what’s going on here? Are the frequent media stories about the incredible growth of online viewing true?

Yes they are, but they are measuring growth from a tiny base. One hundred million people watching an average of three to four hours a month online sounds like a really big and impressive number until you compare it to 300 million people watching well over four hours of television per day!

And what about recent articles crowing that Internet use is now greater than television use? True too, except that for millions of Canadians, Internet use is called “work”. That study compared apples and, well, something completely different.

The real issue is that while television is changing, and dramatically so, these changes are being obscured by the focus on the shiny bit that online now represents in the system.

Stigma-free alternate world beckons

Even when the tickets were sold out, people kept phoning, hoping a spot would open up. Clearly, Toronto’s first mental health camp met a need, wrote the Toronto Star May 31.

The daylong “unconference” – as organizers described it – was an opportunity for people with mental illness, those who care for them and those who care about them, to explore the benefits and dangers of social networking. It’s a new frontier for those trapped and stigmatized by their diagnosis.

It was organized by five individuals: Anne Ptasznik; John Strauss, a psychiatrist from the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health; Madalyn Marcus, a York University graduate student and mental health advocate; and two members of Innovation Cell (a health-care think-tank at the University of Toronto’s Massey College): physician-researcher Carlos Rizo and nurse Rob Fraser.

Looking to hitch a wild ride

So You Think You Can Bobsleigh held open auditions at York University on Saturday, though these contestants didn’t go home with any prizes, wrote the Toronto Sun May 30. In fact, they each paid $20 for the use of the gym.

There was one caveat: If you made the grade, Bobsleigh Canada was offering to fly you out to its summer training camp in Calgary.

Marquise Brisebois might want to think twice about that. She’s a Montreal cop, who despite a hacking cough, drove six hours to get to York, for a one-in-a-thousand chance to compete for Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.


This is the David and Nina Rocco show, at home, the husband and wife in a hardwood-floored room with their twin two-year-old daughters, Giorgia and Emma, wrote The Globe and Mail May 31. They’re at a key juncture in their long-anticipated route to fame and fortune. This week, their self-produced show, “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita”, which is in its fifth season on Canada’s Food Network and in 100 countries around the world, makes its debut on The Cooking Channel, a sister company of The Food Network in the US.

It’s the final, big meatball of success. David Rocco (BA ’92) has just returned from doing a media tour, including interviews with CNN and Fox.

Their road to success began in high school, when they began dating at the age of 16. Born in Toronto’s Scarborough neighbourhood, the son of Italian immigrants who both worked as hairdressers, David Rocco moved to Woodbridge when he was a young teenager. Rocco’s parents, who also immigrated to Canada, were already living in the predominantly Italian community just north of the Greater Toronto Area.

By 16, David was modelling for big agencies, including Elite and Armstrong Men. He and Nina took acting classes together. And when both went off to York University, they ran a restaurant, La Madonnina, in Woodbridge, after Rocco’s father, who worked in real-estate development and construction, bought the building. “There’s a sexiness about the restaurant business and we’ve always loved food, but there’s nothing glamorous about it,” she says.

Wendel visits Glendon campus

Former Toronto Maple Leaf Wendel Clark appeared in a photo in the Toronto Sun May 31 taken during the Walk to Fight Arthritis at York University’s Glendon College on Bayview Avenue on May 30. Thousands of people in 17 communities across Canada took part in the fundraiser, hosted by the Arthritis Society.

On air

  • Laurence Packer, professor of biology in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about his new book Keeping The Bees: Why All Bees are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them, on CBC Radio in St. John’s, Nfld. May 28.
  • Wendy Taylor, Canada Research Chair in Experimental Particle Physics and physics professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the DZero Experiment on CBC Radios’ “Quirks & Quarks” May 29.