Misconceptions about bullying

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Misconceptions about bullying

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There are a number of misconceptions about bullying. The first being that bullying is just a part of growing up, that it builds character in boys, and that somehow kids just need to work it out. We do know that there are serious short and long term consequence, both academically and socially, for kids who are engaged in bullying; including, the victims, the bullies, and the bystanders, that stand around watching this. Another misconception about bullying is that kids outgrow their need to dominate and control in their peer group. The reality is, we know through our research, that as these kids age through adolescence and early adulthood, they take the need for control and dominance into the workplace, into their dating relationships. We do know that bullying is linked to other forms of aggression, and certainly, is not something we outgrow. In addition to that, there is a misconception that we are not going to be able to prevent bullying because it is just a part of our fabric in our society. What we do know is that when there is a concerted effort on the part of parents, school administrator, community members to address bullying, we know that we can move bullying to pro-social behavior.

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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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