November 01, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 82, Issue 4

Best weapon against bullying: knowledge

by John M. Curtin

Niagara University is one of countless communities bringing attention to the issue of bullying. More than 50 students and faculty attended the university's first informational event on Oct. 19.

Educators and youth workers from school districts throughout Niagara County are joining NU's students Nov. 1 for the CyberBullying and Bullying Workshop.

This event is mainly geared towards educators and future educators, said Chelsea Riedl, a graduate assistant in the Institute of Applied Learning. It'll increase awareness of the issue, as well as give information about the new national legislation.

Recent legislation was passed requiring all grade schools to have a specialist in bullying, beginning in September 2012. On a second front, New York state is pushing legislation to make cyberbullying third-degree stalking.

The best way to take care of a bully is to bully the bully, said Assistant Dean for External Relations Patricia Wrobel, who is coordinating the event. If we teach kids how to push back “ without being abusive “ the bully can go away. Our goal is to best prepare our future educators to go out and handle bullying.

One of the most recent high-profile bullying events involved 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of Williamsville, N.Y., who committed suicide after being picked on.

Niagara University is aiming to educate its community on what happened to Jamey, and explain the consequences of bullying and how widespread it's become.

You've got cyberbullying and bullying, and then there's group bullying. It's not a generic thing, Wrobel said.

In mid-October, NU's Diversity Advocates hosted a free Dinner Theater: Let's Talk about Bullying event, which was designed to help increase knowledge among the university's community. During the event, several students discussed their own personal stories and experiences with bullying of all sorts.

Erika Osberg, a sophomore in psychology, shared recent results of a study she has been conducting on cyberbullying. She said, for example, that out of a population the size of NU's (approximately 3,300), 10 people have recently thought about committing suicide as a result of being bullied.

NU faculty and staff also participated in the event, sharing information about this issue from their respective fields of study.

As for long-term bullying awareness, Wrobel explained that it's being weaved into the NU curriculum in the education department.

Diversity Advocates, meanwhile, is hosting events in support of anti-bullying ideals. For more information on the group and its efforts, visit http://www.niagara.edu/diversityadvocates.

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