Bullying is bad for the brain, says speaker for upcoming conference

Debra Pepler

Bullying is bad for the brain. It has the potential to change and damage the brain, causing lifelong consequences. Professor Jean Clinton of McMaster University will discuss how toxic stress, such as that caused by bullying, can have long-lasting effects for children, at PREVNet’s sixth annual bullying prevention conference next week.

Debra Pepler

Debra Pepler

Creating Healthy Relationships to Prevent Bullying: Get the Tools to Take Action will take place June 19 at Wendy Craigthe Chestnut Conference Centre, 89 Chestnut St. in Toronto.

Wendy Craig

PREVNet (Promoting Relationships Eliminating Violence), a national network of 60 Canadian researchers from 27 universities and 50 national child and youth serving organizations, is led by York psychology Professor Debra Pepler and Queen’s University Professor Wendy Craig (MA ’89, PhD ’93), two of Canada’s experts in the field of bullying.

Coordinator of Gender-Based Violence Prevention at the Toronto District School Board, Ken Jeffers, will deliver the keynote address, “Sex, Gender and Schools Oh My!”. A series of workshops will follow, where researchers, counsellors, Ken Jeffersparents, volunteers, youth and anyone else interested in bullying prevention will learn about the latest knowledge and gain practical tips regarding bullying from researchers and national community organizations.

Ken Jeffers

In the first workshop, Pepler will talk about ways to build healthy relationships with children and youth in any setting. Research is beginning to show how absolutely essential healthy relationships are for healthy development, she says. From the study of genetics at a cellular level through to studies of societal factors, clear links are emerging between the quality of children’s relationship experiences and their healthy development.

Professor Dorothy Espelage of the University of Illinois will look at bullying and sexual harassment prevention and intervention among middle and high school students. In this talk, research will be Dorothy Espelagepresented to illustrate the prevalence and relations among bullying, homophobic teasing and sexual harassment among early adolescents. Masculinity and restricted gender expression also appear to be important factors contributing to these phenomena among adolescents.

Dorothy Espelage

A growing body of recent research, however, has documented the importance of social and emotional learning as critical to the creation of safe and caring learning environments, and ultimately as a foundation for academic Shelley Hymelsuccess. Professor Shelley Hymel of the University of British Columbia will look at the importance of fostering social and emotional learning in schools.

Shelley Hymel

Criminal justice Professor Justin Patchin of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will discuss the challenges of cyberbullying, what parents and educators need to know about how youth use and misuse technology to harm Justin Patchintheir peers, and outline strategies for preventing and responding to cyberbullying.

Justin Patchin

Craig, along with Professor David Smith of the University of Ottawa, will talk about how organizations can choose a bully prevention program. Shelley Cardinal, aboriginal consultant and national manager of Walking the Prevention Circle at the Canadian Red Cross, and Claire Crooks, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health’s Centre for Prevention Science, will look at engaging aboriginal communities and youth in violence prevention.

For more information, including a complete list of speakers and abstracts, visit the PREVNet website.