Q & A With the Anti-Bully Coach and a Primer for Wednesday’s Webinar

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On Aug. 24, 2011 at 2 p.m. ET, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will hold a one and a half hour long bullying webinar.

During the event, three panelists will discuss important issues related to bullying, including how it differs from other forms of aggression, the roles that children play and the best practices for intervening in bullying situations. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions as well.

The panelists will be:

  • Stan Davis, a certified social worker and guidance counselor for the Youth Voice Project;
  • Susan P. Limber, PhD, a professor at the Institute on Family & Neighborhood Life at Clemson University;
  • and Joel D. Haber, PhD, who is the founder of RespectU and is known as “The Anti-Bully Coach."

Melodee Hanes, the OJJDP Acting Deputy Administrator for Policy, will moderate the conversation. Those interested can download a PDF flier and register online for free.

JJIE emailed Haber to find out more about the webinar.

JJIE: Can you tell us what you do that relates to bullying and why you are a part of
this webinar?


Haber: I am a clinical psychologist and have been working in violence and bully
prevention for almost 20 years. I work with schools, am a consultant to the American Camp Association and help families and individuals reduce bullying problems they face.

JJIE: What kind of people and organizations would you like to see attend this
webinar? Is it for parents as well?

Haber: I think this webinar would be great for school personnel, educators of all
types (from camp personnel to sports leaders) and parents. We also think
nurses, social workers and school psychologists who are concerned about
youth and want to learn what they need to know about bully prevention from
experts in the field, will benefit from this webinar.

JJIEAny reason this webinar is being held at this time?

Haber: I believe the reason to do this seminar now was to bring expertise to those who are going to deal with bullying at the start of the school year. For many districts, school begins now.

JJIEHow big of a problem is bullying for children and youth today? Is it
getting better? Worse?

Haber: Bullying is a huge problem for youth because it can interfere with learning and social connectedness in school. We've also seen the effects of severe bullying and the devastating impact it can have on youth who have taken their own lives. Our efforts to reduce bullying are making a difference in a positive direction, but much more has to be done to reduce the devastation that bullying can cause.

JJIE: Do you believe bullying can be prevented?

Haber: I believe a comprehensive approach to bullying can make a huge difference to prevent and/or reduce a bully problem. Comprehensive approaches ensure that all school personnel are trained to find bullying and deal with it. And that the students are given skills to report bullying to adults, intervene when students need help and promote a culture that reduces bullying problems over time.

Do you think bullying can lead to a life of crime?

Haber: I have seen kids who chronically bully others have increased risk-taking and criminal activity. However, many kids who are stopped in their bullying and learn more successful ways to deal with people can turn their lives around. One reason anti-bully efforts are critical for youth is to help them understand the consequences and long-term effects of this negative behavior.

JJIE: Have you seen effects of anti-bullying programs being cut back due to U.S.
federal budget issues? 

Haber: There is no question that cuts in funding will be a challenge to the mandates of states to create safety in our schools. I have seen attempts by schools to find creative ways to get funding and build on foundations of anti-bully programs. I think with this funding challenge will see a successful dialogue around alternative sources of funding if federal funding continues to be less available. I may also add that the Department of Education is working hard to make this type of webinar available for all those interested in learning the best practices of how to reduce bullying, and continue to host conferences on bullying to ensure the safety of children.

JJIE: What is one thing that every parent and person involved with youth should
know about bullying?

Haber: Everyone who gets involved in bully prevention can make a difference and help reduce the problem. Every adult needs awareness and the skills to help children feel safe both emotionally and physically. Our youth look to us as role-models and we have to show them that bullying is unacceptable. Let's set the bar here.

JJIE: Anything else you'd like to add?

Haber: Yes, that youth leadership and involvement is a critical element of bully
prevention. Please note that anything I shared with you today is my personal opinion.

JJIE has resources for bullying and cyberbullying.

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