After twenty-five years studying children’s aggression, Professor Douglas Smith of the psychology department is turning his attention from the bully to the bullied with the help of 4,000 dollars from the President’s Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award, sponsored by the SOU Foundation. Along with his research partner Mike Furlong, Smith has started the groundwork for a study on peer victimization, with a focus on the more recent phenomenon of cyber bullying because, as Smith commented, “The intent [of bullying] is the same but the methods are different.”
The money he received from the grant allows him to hire a Southern Oregon University graduate student to assist in researching and developing the victimization survey at the heart of the project. This survey will be administered to sixth through twelfth graders with the hopes of applying cross-nationally. Ideally, the questions asked on the survey about students’ experiences with bullying can provide a look at the difference between genders and cultures when it comes to victimization.
While people recognize that bullying is a significant problem, how to handle the situation remains a mystery since using zero-tolerance policies such as suspending the bully for a day or two ineffective proves ineffective. “If you’re going to make a difference,” Smith continued, “you have to change the climate of the school,” which does not happen just because the school administrators remove the bully for a couple days. By looking at how connected students feel towards school and whether or not they feel supported by teachers and faculty, Smith hopes the study might ultimately provide effective recommendations for handling the problem by making schools more proactive in the fight against bullying.
KOBI TV 5 news video segment.
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