Nationally Renown Bullying Expert Speaks at The Country School

Dr. Susan Swearer, professor of school psychology and co-director of the Bullying Research Network, based out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, spoke with more than 50 community members, leaders and media on March 20th at The Country School in Easton, Md. The presentation was open to the public and was attended by parents, students, community leaders and education professionals from the Mid-Shore and the Western Shore. Her talk focused on the latest bullying research and how those findings can be successfully applied at the individual, family, school, and community level to develop a culture where bullying is not accepted.

Over the past decade, Dr. Swearer, a licensed psychologist, has collected data and conducted staff training in elementary, middle, and high schools, with the goal of helping school personnel establish cost-effective and data-based strategies to reduce bullying behaviors. Her Target Bullying Intervention Program has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and she was an invited presenter at the most recent White House Bullying Prevention Conference. In late February, she was a panelist at the launch of pop-star Lady Gaga’s youth empowerment initiative sponsored by her Born This Way Foundation, at Harvard University along with Oprah Winfrey and other national leaders. Swearer has authored more than 100 book chapters and articles on the topics of bullying, depression, and anxiety in school-aged youth and is the co-author of Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2009). Currently she is promoting the new, free online resource, “Bullying at School and Online” at www.education.com.

Dr. Swearer’s presentation was the culmination of a year-long partnership with The Country School, who enlisted Dr. Swearer as a consultant to help the school community better understand bullying and relationship issues. “We have been fortunate to build this relationship with Dr. Swearer,” commented Country School Headmaster Neil Mufson. “Over the past year she has consulted with us and met with our administrators, faculty and students. As a result, we have understood more about this complex issue and have identified new strategies to strengthen our learning community to create an environment where bullying is much less likely to occur. We have had to think outside of the box as we’ve learned that traditional methods of addressing bullying tend to not be effective.”

Dr. Swearer’s research asserts that bullying is a complex, community issue and that solutions must be developed concurrently at the individual, family, school and community levels. “Bullying is a social problem that affects three out of four students during their school years,” commented Swearer. “Bullying is a mental health issue as those involved, both the target and perpetrator, can suffer from severe depression and anxiety. Bullying creates a negative school climate and also has significant costs to society. While most adults understand that this is an important issue, many do not know how to effectively respond.”

Swearer argued that there needs to be a paradigm shift when it comes to bullying. Our society needs to address the conditions that allow bullying behaviors to occur. She presented steps that parents could take to confront bullying behavior at home – both for parents of perpetrators and victims. She also offered suggestions to parents on how they could build a constructive and collaborative relationship with their child’s school to understand their policies and bullying-prevention efforts. Resources including www.education.com, the Stomp Out Bullying initiative, the Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign, and the Born This Way Foundation were shared as other resources parents, students, and educators could go to learn more about the issue and get tips for addressing bullying behavior.

In closing Swearer offered the following advice inspired from Lady GaGa and Mahatma Ghandi: “Be bold, be brave and be the change you wish to see in the world.”

To request a PDF of Dr. Susan Swearer’s presentation or for further questions regarding the content of the presentation, please contact The Country School’s Headmaster, Neil Mufson, at nmufson@countryschool.org or 410.822.1935, ext. 112.

About The Country School
The Country School is an independent, coeducational, Kindergarten through eighth-grade school founded in 1934. Its mission and philosophy is to offer a challenging program in a nurturing environment with small classes, individual attention, and outstanding teachers as its hallmarks. A traditional, structured, responsive, and age-appropriate curriculum focuses on building basic skills and serves a range of student abilities within a family school context. The school strives to educate the whole child in an atmosphere that fosters high academic standards, instills a love of learning, and provides a solid foundation for future education. Enrichment in the arts, athletics, and co-curricular activities offers additional arenas for individual achievement and leadership. By emphasizing the importance of strong values and character, the faculty consistently reinforces responsible behavior, self-discipline, and positive attitudes. Working in concert, Country School teachers and parents help students develop confidence and competence and reach toward their highest potential. To learn more about The Country School, visit http://www.countryschool.org or contact Kim Balderson, Director of Admissions, at 410.822.1935, ext. 130 or kbalderson@countryschool.org.

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