By: Jacob U’Mofe Gordon, Ph.D., LLD (Hon)
Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas
In a large measure, this article is in response to these questions that people often ask me at professional and social gatherings:
Why are you a Board Member of the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA)? What is Bullying? What do you hope to accomplish? How can I help? etc.
At the recommendation of a friend, mentee, and former IBPA Board Member, I became a Board Member of IBPA in 2015, and I am currently serving my second term. The reasons for my joining the Board of IBPA are four-fold: (1) an opportunity to engage the global community in reducing the risks of the devastating impact of Bullying on millions of school children and youth; (2) to build on my prevention research agenda; (3) to experience the joy and camaraderie of working with people from diverse backgrounds to make a difference; and (4) to further internationalize the IBPA.
On the question of definition, Bullying may be defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance; the behavior is usually repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.” This definition is based on what appears to be the consensus in the literature as researchers and practitioners grapple with the task of defining Bullying. A further review of the related literature reveals an alarming trend of the negative impact of Bullying on our educational institutions, especially in K-12 schools.
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), almost one-third of young teens worldwide have recently experienced Bullying. The cost of Bullying and its consequences may constitute an eminent danger to our national safety as well as global peace and security.
As a Board Member, I have found IBPA Annual Conferences to be extremely exciting, productive, and rewarding. As a researcher and an internationalist, I quickly discovered my passions: (1) to expand IBPA beyond the U.S., Canada, and Europe; (2) to establish a journal on Bullying to report on research findings and to document “best practices;” (3) to revisit the IBPA mission and its organizational structure; and (4) to develop sustainable strategies for IBPA, including the creation of an Endowment. While the sustainability of IBPA remains a work in progress, I am proud to report accomplishments on my first three passions.
First, IBPA has developed collaborations in Africa and the Caribbean. Plans are underway to work with UNESCO and in Asia.
Second, IBPA has established the International Journal of Bullying Prevention in collaboration with the University of Dublin in Ireland. Under the leadership of its co-editors: Dr. Sameer Hinduji, an IBPA Board Member, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University; and James O’Higgins Norman, UNESCO Chair on Tracking Bullying in Schools and Professor at Dublin City University in Ireland. The first issue of the journal is in press for publication this year, 2019. Meanwhile, I edited the book, Bullying Prevention and Intervention at School: Integrating Theory and Research into Best Practices, published in 2018 by Springer Nature Switzerland. This volume contained state-of-the-science contributions by 20 professionals representing both academics and practitioners.
Finally, under the leadership of the first IBPA Executive Director, Ms. Lynn Lonsway, and two past Presidents, Dr. Patricia Agatston and Joe Bruzzese, we accomplished my third passion. This was the reorganization of IBPA to include Regional Conferences, Research Roundtables, and the adoption of a new Mission Statement, “To Engage the Global Community in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.”
As I look forward to completing my second and final term as an IBPA Board Member, I am optimistic for the future: IBPA will continue to make a difference in the lives of our children, youth, and their communities.
And, for those who ask me, how they can help, I encourage you to invest in America’s future by doing the following: (a) attend IBPA conferences, (b) join IBPA and become a Board Member, (c) make tax-exempt donations to support the mission of IBPA, and (d) help IBPA to create a National Endowment for Bullying Prevention.