Kids can be cruel, as the saying goes, but they also could become society’s best advocates for more compassionate schools and communities, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln educational psychologist Susan Swearer.
Swearer, a nationally known anti-bullying expert, will discuss her research on the complex personal, social and cultural factors underlying bullying — and how to end it — at UNL's fall Nebraska Lecture on Nov. 7.
"Creating a Kinder World: Empowering Youth to End Bullying,” will be at 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Nebraska Union auditorium, 14th and R streets, with a reception following. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public. A live webcast (3:30 p.m. CST) will be available athttp://research.unl.edu/nebraskalectures. An archived video will be available for later viewing about a week after the event.
Swearer describes bullying as a national mental health crisis without easy solutions. The threat of school expulsion or suspension doesn't seem to deter bad behavior, yet educators and parents are at a loss for better alternatives, she said.
As co-director of UNL's Bullying Research Network, Swearer aims to uncover the complicated dynamics of bullying. Developing prevention and intervention approaches is a key goal, she said, but those will be most successful if youth reinforce anti-bullying messages with their peers.
"We have to mobilize a generation of youth who can stand up and say, 'This is not OK,'" she said.
Swearer, whose expertise is the psychological and social effects of bullying and victimization, serves on the research board of the Born this Way Foundation, founded by pop singer Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta. During the Nebraska Lecture, Swearer will discuss how she collaborates with the foundation on anti-bullying research.
Her expertise is widely recognized. In 2011, Swearer was selected to present her research at a White House bullying prevention conference.
The Nebraska Lectures, which feature distinguished UNL faculty, are designed for general audiences and provide insights about some of the university's leading research, scholarly and creative activity. Swearer's lecture is sponsored by the UNL Research Council, Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Research and Economic Development in cooperation with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.