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girl being cyberbullied on her phone, caring friend looks on.

Bullying and technology subject of Alberti Center conference


Published September 14, 2017 This content is archived.


UB’s Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention’s annual conference — Fostering Kindness: Using Technology to Combat Online Bullying — will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 28 at Classics V Banquet Facility, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.

Delivering the morning keynote address will be Susan Swearer, the Willa Cather Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Swearer also is co-director of the Bullying Research Network, director of the Empowerment Initiative and chair of the Research Advisory Board for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

The conference — designed for educators, social workers, counselors, law enforcement officials, parents and others who work and counsel young people — will address the unique challenges of cyberbullying, creating a culture of kindness, bullying in the current political climate and fostering inclusiveness.

“We hear again and again from parents and educators regarding concerns about cyberbullying and the improper use of technology,” says Amanda B. Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Swearer share her work with Hack Harassment, founded by Intel, Vox Media and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, to share the common goal of building a more supportive and inclusive online community.

“We have also heard participants at our events say that they would like more time to discuss how to take action regarding the content they learn,” Nickerson says. “So this year, the morning keynote will be followed by smaller breakout group sessions to discuss the themes and plan for action.”

Founded in 2010, the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention is dedicated to reducing bullying abuse in schools and in the community by contributing knowledge and providing evidence-based tools to effectively change the language, attitudes and behaviors of educators, parents, students and society.

Nickerson was the center’s founding director when it officially launched in 2011.

Past years’ conferences have attracted hundreds of local and national professionals interested in identifying and addressing childhood bullying. Swearer, this year’s speaker, identifies bullying and harassment as “ubiquitous problems that affect individuals across the lifespan.”

“Despite this widespread problem, solutions to bullying and harassment are fraught with many barriers,” Swearer says. “Barriers include societal norms that support bullying behaviors, lack of resources, time constraints and focus on academic versus psychosocial outcomes.”

Her keynote also will explore “hackathons,” organized events designed to use technology to create solutions to societal problems, as a powerful tool to combat bullying and online harassment.

Swearer was closely involved in one such hackathon affiliated with Major League Hacking, Hack Harassment and the University of Nebraska. Her address will review the applications and products created through #HackUNL, and will advocate for the creative use of technology to curb online bullying and harassment.

More information, including details on registration, can be found at the Alberti Center’s website. The deadline for registration is Sept. 22.