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Portrait of Anna Liuzzo in her school classroom.

Amanda Nickerson (right), director, Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, with Dorothy L. Espelage, William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education, University of North Carolina

Published November 12, 2019

Alberti Center holds ninth annual conference

This year's theme was "Research-informed bullying preventions: Social-emotional learning and school climate improvement approaches"

Each year, the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention holds a conference to address bullying, victimization and related issues that can be utilized in school and community settings. The Alberti Center was created through a gift from Jean M. Alberti, an alumna from the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology. One of the main goals of the Alberti Center has always been to promote effective and research-driven methods to prevent bullying and help victims of violent behavior.

This year, the Alberti Center held its ninth annual conference. “The main purpose of this annual conference is to bring together a diverse audience of counselors, faculty, psychologists, school administrators, students and other stakeholders in bullying prevention to share research and insight on topics related to the mission of the center,” says Brie Kishel, program and operations manager for the Alberti Center.

The theme of the conference is different each year and has included research on bullying and harassment prevention, cyberbullying, disabilities, influence of media violence and micro aggressions. This year, the theme focused on school climate improvement approaches and social-emotional learning, as Dorothy L. Espelage, international expert on research-based bullying prevention, was the keynote speaker. Attendees also chose one of four breakout sessions on social-emotional learning, NYS bullying and harassment legislation, Safe & Civil schools training and restorative justice.

“Dorothy was the first speaker ever at the Alberti Center conference in 2010, as we have collaborated with her on other research and initiatives over the years,” says Amanda Nickerson, the director of the Alberti Center. “When I reached out and asked her to come, she responded immediately and positively that she would love to.”

Nickerson and Kishel begin planning the conference after the fall semester each year, and much thought is put into choosing the theme and presenters. One of the questions included on the conference evaluations is “What topic would you like to see addressed at a future event?” and Nickerson and Kishel try to accommodate the audience requests to encourage people to return each year.

“Some of the requests we received this year included bullying related to cultural diversity, bystander intervention, mental health, mindfulness, social justice issues and trauma informed prevention,” Kishel says. “We are always looking to increase our number of attendees, but have been very satisfied with the audience size we’ve had in recent years, which is typically 150 to 200 people.”

According to Kishel, the conference has received sponsorship for the past six years from embraceWNY, a local non-profit organization comprised of Western New York community members committed to raising awareness of the LGBT community, while promoting equality and justice for all Western New Yorkers.

“We hope that attendees take away practical and useful information related to evidence-based bullying prevention methods that they can then implement in their own programs or schools,” Kishel says.

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