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Bully for UNL

Susan Swearer is an expert on bullying. Or, more precisely, she’s an expert in root causes of bullying and in the steps schools can take to create a culture that minimizes bullying. As a faculty member in UNL’s College of Education, Swearer studies the relationship between internalizing factors (depression, anxiety, and anger) and outward behavior (bullying/victimization, school failure, and conduct problems). Her research is, by nature, very relevant to many people today, so we like to keep a close eye on what she’s up to.

Over the years, Swearer has had little trouble finding her way into national news stories on the topic of bullying. But her visibility has reached a new level since January, when the so-called Phoebe Prince story made national headlines.

Since then, her inbox has been active with queries from media outlets around the country, whether it’s print, online or broadcast. This week, she appears in Newsweek as co-author of a short op-ed piece on school bullying, as well.

It should be noted that Swearer has done a great job representing the university in those interviews … and in doing so, has reached that rare status of being what we in the business call a “Perpetual Placement” — someone who is top-of-mind on a particular topic for reporters around the country. Think Tim Gay on the physics of sport or Wheeler Winston Dixon on the history of film or Dean Sicking when it comes to roadside barrier safety.

From a University Communications standpoint, this is a big deal. For the professor, it can be time-consuming and patience-testing, but in the end, very good for them, the college and the university.

We’re working with Prof. Swearer on a new project geared toward the start of school that should allow her to get her thoughts across in a clear and broad manner. Hopefully we’ll see some results in August from the seeds we’re planting today. Of course, we’ll keep you posted.

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