BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Graduate School of
Education has named Amanda Nickerson as director of its
high-profile Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying
Abuse and School Violence.
Nickerson, a former University at Albany associate professor and
program director of school psychology, plans to turn UB into a
national or international "go to" place for the latest research and
advice on bullying.
"Bullying and school violence have received increasing attention
by legislators, researchers and the general public," says
Nickerson, a licensed psychologist and an expert in school crisis
prevention and intervention, with an emphasis on violence and
"However, efforts to prevent and intervene with these
challenging situations are often fragmented. Having a national
center housed at a premier research institution such as the
University at Buffalo is an exciting opportunity to have a
centralized place to generate and disseminate knowledge about best
practices in this area."
Nickerson's appointment ends a nationwide, yearlong search for
someone to lead the anti-bullying center, a research center that
has attracted much interest. Nickerson, mother of two children,
will move from Albany to the Buffalo area this summer.
"We are delighted to welcome a scholar of Dr. Nickerson's
stature to the Graduate School of Education, says Mary H. Gresham,
dean of UB's Graduate School of Education. "Not only is her work on
bullying widely respected among researchers in this field, she is
committed to making a difference through her work.
"Dr. Nickerson is actively involved in the national conversation
on this topic, and her experience in working with practitioners and
the lay public made her the ideal choice for this inaugural
Nickerson calls herself "truly passionate" about promoting
positive and healthy school environments where bullying, harassment
and other types of abuse can be prevented. She has conducted
numerous research studies on related topics, with a focus on the
role of parents and peers in prevention and intervention
"There are still so many unanswered questions," Nickerson says.
"And I am dedicated to advancing the pursuit of knowledge in this
area by collaborating with other faculty members at UB and other
universities, as well as graduate students and our partners working
in schools and other settings that serve children, youth and
The center began following the largest gift in the Graduate
School of Education's history by Jean M. Alberti, a clinical and
educational psychologist based in Chicago, former local elementary
teacher and UB alumna. One of the main goals of the center is to
promote effective and research-driven methods of stopping bullying
or helping victims, known as "best practices."
Although this message will continually be updated based on
national research, the new director said there are clear guidelines
for people to follow when they encounter bullying.
"I think it is important for children (and their parents) to
know that they are not alone and that they should not have to
tolerate abusive behavior from others," Nickerson says. "Parents
should listen to their child and take action by contacting the
school and reporting it."
Nickerson says helping children find peer support is also
"Peers witness bullying interactions about 85 percent of the
time, but they rarely intervene," says Nickerson, who cited
"wonderful" organizations and community resources available to help
children and families with the challenges they face. "And parents
should have no hesitation in seeking these out.
"For parents who suspect or are made aware that their child is
bullying others, I would encourage them to resist the urge to deny
that this is occurring and seek out ways to actively work with the
child to teach him or her that this is not acceptable behavior,"
Nickerson urged parents to be vigilant about ways that children
treat each other starting at a very young age. They should be aware
of "teachable moments" to get across what behaviors are acceptable
and what are not.
"As children get older, parents should talk openly with their
children about ways to stand up for someone being bullied and how
to seek help," she said. "Even as children enter the challenging
adolescent years, they still need parents to be involved in their
lives and to guide them in making good choices and treating others
Nickerson acknowledged the increasing attention bullying has
received throughout the country and internationally. Nickerson said
there is no research to suggest bullying behavior is on the rise.
Instead, the most recent and credible data show bullying is
surprisingly consistent across different cultures and
What is different is the methods of bullying, she says, with
cyberbullying being a particularly prominent example.
"I'm delighted that the Alberti Center will have such a highly
qualified person as its first director," Alberti says. "I'm looking
forward to meeting her in the near future to hear of her plans for
the center and share my ideas with her."
Alberti says she hopes the center that bears her name will find
ways to reach bullying victims besides traditional academic
"We have to go beyond academia, into the media," she says,
"because, I believe, the media -- computer games, video games and
others -- are one of the reasons for the increase in bullying and
Alberti chose UB's Graduate School of Education for the gift
after Gresham learned about Alberti's concept of bullying as child
abuse by children and invited her to deliver a lecture on it at UB
A native of West Hartford, Conn., Nickerson attended Bates
College in Lewiston, Maine, graduating with a bachelor's of art
degree in psychology in 1994. She worked at the Devereux
Foundation, a large, private mental health organization serving
children and families with mental health needs for two years, then
earned her doctorate degree in school psychology from the
University of South Carolina.
Nickerson and her husband, who will working for UB in the
administrative computing department called Enterprise Application
Services, will move to Western New York with their two sons, ages 6
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.