Bullying is the Focus of 2 December Events at Fairfield University

Submitted by Meredith Guinness, Assistant Director, Media Relations on November 8, 2011

Bullying – how it happens and how to foster a more respectful climate – is the timely topic of 2 December events sponsored by Fairfield University’s Department of Marriage & Family Therapy in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions. During a public lecture on Thursday, Dec. 1 and a professional development workshop on Friday, Dec. 2, noted experts will consider the rise of bullying and cyberbullying and countermeasures to such behavior.

“Bullying has gotten a lot of attention recently in the press, particularly with the tragic instances across the country of suicide among students believed to have been bullied,” says Rona Preli, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fairfield. “The Internet and the prominence of technology have led to new venues for bullying, which creates its own unique set of problems. Our events are aimed at addressing these contemporary issues with the expectation that awareness and information will enable parents, students, and professionals to deal effectively and meaningfully with the problem.”

The public lecture, Bully is a 4-Letter Word: Creating Climates of Respect, will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the presentation room of the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center on campus. Dr. Jo Ann Freiberg, an educational consultant for the Connecticut Department of Education, and FBI Special Agent Christopher Munger will address cyberbullying and Internet safety, the background of ‘bullymania,’ and practices that diminish or eliminate bullying. The cost is $10 for adults. To register, go to www.fairfield.edu/mftdecone.

The School will also sponsor a professional development workshop from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. Susan Dafoe-Abbey, BIS, MEd, RMFT, a marriage and family therapist and parent consultant, will present “The Making and Unmaking of a Bully: A Systemic Perspective” for mental health professionals and educators. This workshop will focus on the family processes at play in the making and unmaking of a bully and present family therapy interventions to address the issues of bully, victim, and family interactions systemically.

The cost of the workshop is $75 for professionals and it includes a certificate of attendance or 4 MFT CEUs. The cost for students is $35. To register, go to www.fairfield.edu/mftdectwo.

Speaker Bios:

Jo Ann Freiberg, Ph.D., is an educational consultant with the Connecticut State Department of Education working with the Bureau of Accountability and Improvement. She manages the wide arena of bullying, improving school climate, and character education, and provides professional development to educational organizations throughout the country. She has worked as a classroom teacher and a teacher educator and has held faculty appointments at Central Connecticut and Eastern Connecticut state universities, the University of Hartford, and the University of Connecticut. She holds a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Christopher Munger has been an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 16 years. He attended college at Miami University in Ohio and, upon graduation, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm. Special Agent Munger joined the FBI in 1995 and was sent to the New York Division. He has worked in counterterrorism and organized crime, and recently ran a drug/gang task force in Bridgeport. He has lectured extensively about internet safety in schools throughout Fairfield County.

Susan Dafoe-Abbey, BIS, MEd, RMFT, is a parent consultant and registered marriage and family therapist in private practice in Guelph, Ontario. She has lectured and published extensively on such topics as empathy in teaching and learning, understanding teenagers, defiant behavior, multigenerational attachment, stress and children, and grief and trauma. She earned a certificate in gerontology from Ryerson University, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo, a master’s in applied psychology from the University of Toronto, and a certificate of contextual family therapy from the Institute for Contextual Growth in Philadelphia.

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