Susan Swearer
Susan Swearer, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of school psychology, will share her expertise on bullying during a conference this week at the White House. (Courtesy photo)

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of school psychology will share her expertise on the causes of and solutions to bullying during a conference this week at the White House.

Susan Swearer will join a panel of researchers at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention on Thursday. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend and participate in the conference.

"It's great that the Obama administration is putting a lot of effort into understanding and preventing bullying behaviors in kids," Swearer said. "I think certainly drawing national attention to the issue is really important because bullying is really prevalent in a lot of communities."

Swearer already has received national attention for her work.

In January, CBS "Sunday Morning" aired a story about Irving Middle School's anti-bullying program, Target Bullying Intervention, which Swearer developed.

For several years, Irving students facing suspension for bullying were given the option of participating in the program, which focuses on getting to the bottom of their behavior and what they can do to change it.

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At the White House, Swearer will share her research and work at Irving. She said students who participated in the program demonstrated less bullying behavior than those who didn't.

"It's not 100 percent effective and really nothing is," she said.

But stopping even one child from bullying can help create a school culture that doesn't tolerate it, she said. Swearer shared the story of one girl who went through the program and learned how her peer group had influenced her to bully others.

"She recognized that that was not OK," Swearer said. "She stopped."

 

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