York bullying expert inducted into Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

York Distinguished Research Professor Debra Pepler, considered an international leader in research on child and youth bullying, aggression and victimization, was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) during its annual general meeting yesterday in Ottawa.

Election to Fellowship in the CAHS is considered one of the highest honours for individuals in the Canadian health sciences community. Pepler was elected to the CAHS for her demonstrated  Debra Peplerleadership, creativity, distinctive competencies and a commitment to advance academic health science.

Left: Debra Pepler

“I am very honoured to be nominated as a Fellow and look forward to contributing to the academy’s efforts in health promotion through our collaborative efforts to promote the healthy development of children and youth through healthy relationships,” says Pepler.

Pepler has conducted two major research programs on children at risk within the context of peer relationships at school and in context of the family. To study aggression and bullying, she developed an innovative methodology to observe children’s interactions, which would normally be hidden from adults.

She was awarded a Networks of Centres of Excellence: New Initiatives grant to establish PREVNet – Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network together with Wendy Craig, her first York PhD student. This collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative brings together 62 researchers from 27 Canadian universities and 49 national organizations. The grant, the first stage of Canada’s largest funding mechanism, is the culmination of many years of work for Pepler, who has been tirelessly involved in community-based research and public policy development on pressing social issues related to children and youth.

Pepler’s research has changed the way people think about bullying, aggression and other forms of violence, especially among marginalized and alienated young people. She speaks widely to professional and community audiences about children at risk. She has also edited four volumes in the past four years on understanding and addressing children’s aggression, bullying and victimization.

A professor in York’s Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health since 1988, Pepler was also director of the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution from 1994 to 2002. She has been a senior associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children since 2001.

In honour of her research, Pepler has previously been awarded the Contribution to Knowledge Award from the Psychology Foundation of Canada, the Educator of the Year Award from Phi Delta Kappa (Toronto), the University of Waterloo Arts in Academia Award and the Canadian Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public or Community Service.

Established in 2004, the CAHS works in partnership with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering to form the three member academies of the Council of Canadian Academies. The CAHS provides timely, informed and unbiased assessments of urgent issues affecting the health of Canadians.