White House asks UNL professor Swearer to share bullying expertise

Released on 03/08/2011, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., March 8th, 2011 —
Susan Swearer
Susan Swearer

The Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools and the Obama administration have asked University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of school psychology Susan Swearer to share her expertise on the causes of and solutions for bullying during a conference this week at the White House.

Swearer, a national expert on the subject, is among a select panel of researchers taking part in the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, which will take place in the East Room on March 10.

Swearer will share an overview of her bullying research, which examines the complex interplay and impact of internal psychological processes on children's and adolescents' outward behavior, and how different environments affect those processes. She also will participate in a panel-style question-and-answer session and lead a breakout session during the daylong gathering.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend and take part in the conference.

"It's an honor to be a presenter for this conference," Swearer said. "It certainly speaks to the importance of this issue that the president and the first lady are spending so much time with it, and acknowledging that when schools have high levels of bullying, education suffers."

The conference will bring together communities that have been affected by bullying as well as those who are taking action to address it, according to organizers. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with the president and members of his administration, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, about how communities can prevent bullying. About 130 people are expected to attend.

Swearer, who authored the lead research paper for the conference on the risk factors for and outcomes of bullying and victimization, said the White House meeting is an opportunity to dispel myths and to help officials understand that bullying is a complicated matter requiring a consistent, wide-ranging response.

"Bullying is very complex and unfolds for a number of reasons," she said. "Hopefully, what will come from this is an understanding of bullying from a comprehensive perspective. Too often, the reaction can be knee-jerk or short-sighted, and doesn't help to create a positive environment in which bullying is not tolerated."

Swearer will join researchers Justin Patchin of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Catherine Bradshaw of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence; and George Sugai of the University of Connecticut on the panel of experts. The conference, which begins at 9:30 a.m. CST Thursday, will be live-streamed at www.whitehouse.gov.

Writer: Steve Smith, University Communications, (402) 472-4226, ssmith13@unl.edu

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