In observation of National Social Work Month, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice’s Alumni Council will address the issue of bullying during an upcoming symposium.

“Bullying Across the Lifespan: Targeting the Bully” event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 at the Bodek Lounge located in the University’s Houston Hall.

Attendees will get a better understanding about bullies, victims and what social change agents are doing to intervene to reduce bullying behavior.

“It is highly likely that you, or someone you know or love, has experienced bullying,” said Santo Marabella, chair of the Alumni Council. “However, it is also likely that you have known or observed a bully and been frustrated by a sense of helplessness about how to stop that bully.

“This symposium doesn’t promise a magic wand to end bullying, but it will contribute to the conversation in this way,” he added. “It will educate participants about the prevalence of bullying across the lifespan, shed light on the demons of the bully and offer insights on ways to make a difference in the lives impacted so adversely by bullying.”

The symposium includes a question-and-answer session with experts on bullying from each stage of life — from school-aged youth, to adults in the workforce and the dependent elderly. 

It will also feature an interactive town hall-like opportunity for engagement and a facilitated discussion about strategies that can help to prevent bullying in the future.

“This is an opportunity for social work professionals to engage with our local community about an issue that’s touched most of us in some significant way,” said Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice. “Whether you have been a bully, a victim, a victim’s loved one or a bystander, this symposium allows social workers and the public to contribute to the discussion about a topic that many people face.”

Randi Boyette, associate regional director of education at the Anti-Defamation League believes that bullying behaviors must never be ignored.

“Teachers and administrators need to focus on educating students about the specifics of bullying as well as the impact,” Boyette said.

“We believe that transforming bystanders into allies who support those being targeted and challenge bullying and name-calling whenever they see it, will ultimately help create and sustain more respectful, inclusive school environments.”

The symposium is free and open to everyone who is interested in learning more about bullying from the perspective of the bully.

For additional information, contact Santo Marabella at (215) 477-5717 or at SP2AlumniCouncil@gmail.com.

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