Bullying – how it happens and how to foster a more respectful climate — was the timely topic of two December events sponsored by Fairfield University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Department. During a public lecture on Thursday, December 1, 2011, and a professional development workshop on Friday, December 2, 2011, noted experts focused on the dynamics of bullying, the rise of cyberbullying and ways to address the issues as they occur as well as ways of prevention.
“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,” said Rona Preli, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy Department 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, took place on Thursday, December 1, 2011, in the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center on campus. Approximately 130 parents and professionals attended, including Fairfield Selectwoman Cristin McCarthy Vahey and representatives of local police and firefighters. Dr. Jo Ann Freiberg, an educational consultant for the Connecticut Department of Education focused on “bullymania”, the dangers and longterm effects of labeling and ways to create respectful and safe relationships in schools. FBI Special Agent Christopher Munger gave sobering insights into cyberbullying and internet safety and presented tips on keeping kids safe as they navigate electronic media.
On December 2, 2011, Susan Dafoe-Abbey, BIS, MEd, RMFT, a marriage and family therapist and parent consultant led a workshop for mental health professionals and educators entitled “The Making and Unmaking of a Bully: A Systemic Perspective”. This workshop focused on the family processes at play in the making and unmaking of a bully. Applying the lens of attachment theory she presented family therapy interventions to address the issues of bully, victim and underlying family interactions.
Both events were well received. In conjunction with the Kathryn P. Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy, which offers affordable professional therapy to individuals, couples and families in the wider Fairfield County community, the Marriage and Family Therapy Department is planning further events for 2012. For information as it becomes available, please visit http://fairfield.edu/gseap/kc_index.html and/or http://fairfield.edu/gseap/mamft_index.html.
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