BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Associate Professor of
Psychology Jamie M. Ostrov's work on understanding the development
of bullying behavior in pre-school children has won him some
influential admirers and boosters.
He's a consultant for the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention as well as the U.S. Department of Education in their
efforts to develop a uniform definition of bullying. He's assisted
the federal StopBullying.gov initiative in adapting bullying
prevention materials for young children.
And most recently in Ostrov's professional dossier: an October
appearance opposite Big Bird and his furry friends, counseling the
"Sesame Street" characters on what to do when confronted with
bullying behavior. Ostrov is featured in a series of web-based
videos to accompany a recent episode of the new season of "Sesame
Street." The series also is available on DVD.
"I wanted to join a club called the Good Birds Club," Big Bird
tells Ostrov in the video. "They didn't want me because my beak was
too long and I was too big and too yellow."
When Ostrov suggests to Big Bird and friends that they find a
grown-up and report what has happened, the blue muppet named Rosita
worries about being labeled a tattletale.
"Oh no, Rosita. That's not tattling," reassures Ostrov. "That's
reporting. Reporting is important when our friends are hurt. It's
important to find a grown-up to report it so our friends can stay
Ostrov's appearance in the videos is on the "Sesame Street"
website at http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/topics/bullying.
"Essentially, my research is geared towards preschoolers, which
is the target audience of 'Sesame Street,'" explains Ostrov, a
developmental psychologist who also was a consultant to the
Children's Television Workshop for its bullying prevention
"Their messages -- teaching children how to identify what
bullying is and what to do if it happens to them, such as seeking
assistance from adults -- are consistent with our intervention
program that addressed aggressive behavior in preschool classrooms
and that also used developmentally appropriate puppets, stories and
"'Sesame Street' works very hard to keep the message
developmentally appropriate and consistent with current research
evidence as well as best practices in the field," Ostrov says. "My
role was to provide both the developmental perspective as well as
assist with the current understanding of how bullying is defined by
Ostrov's research centers around understanding the development
of types of aggression in children ages 3 to 5. One of those
subtypes of aggressive behavior is bullying. All bullying is
aggressive behavior, Ostrov explains, but not all aggressive
behavior is bullying.
His research addresses what Ostrov calls "forms and functions"
of aggressive behavior. "Forms" of aggression are ways aggression
is displayed. "Functions" are the reasons why children behave in
"Distinguishing between the various forms and functions of
aggression has important implications for understanding the
development of aggression and bullying in children," Ostrov
Ostrov's research also examines the developmental origins,
processes and outcomes of physical and relational aggression (e.g.,
social exclusion) in children and adolescents. Some of this work
has documented the processes or mechanisms by which aggression and
peer victimization are linked across development.
Previous studies in the UB Social Development Laboratory, which
Ostrov directs, have shown that children who are victimized by
their peers become the aggressors over time, and that the type of
victimization that they experience predicts the type of aggression
that they display with their peers over time.
"Thus, children are likely learning from peer victimization
experiences how to become an aggressor," says Ostrov. Ostrov
believes that with UB's new Jean M. Alberti Center for the
Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence, the university is
well-positioned to become a leading institution in the field.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.
UB Social Development Laboratory: http://wings.buffalo.edu/psychology/labs/SocialDevLab/home.htm
UB's Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse
and School: Violence: http://gse.buffalo.edu/alberticenter