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TORONTO, November 14, 1997 -- National award-winning York University psychology Professor Dr. Debra Pepler will share her expertise and advice about school-yard bullying with 20 million viewers today during an appearance on the Oprah show.

Pepler, who is the Director of York University's LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, will spend about a half-hour discussing with host Oprah Winfrey not only what her research has revealed about the phenomenon of bullying, but also what strategies and interventions are available to address it. She was joined by former York University graduate student Wendy Craig and Columbia University professor Harvey Hornstein, who discusses bullying in the workplace.

"It's important to share with the public the results of our scientific research. I hope today's Oprah show will reach the parents, teachers and children who are confronted with the problem of bullying and help them understand that there are solutions," said Pepler, who has recently appeared on NBC's Dateline and CNBC's Charles Grodin show.

The basis for today's Oprah show comes from Pepler's recent research, for which she received the Psychology Foundation of Canada's Contribution to Knowledge Award. Pepler conducted a four-year study into the bullying tactics of school-age children between the ages of six and 12, videotaping them in classrooms and playgrounds. Footage from these tapes will be played on today's show. Her research documented children's bullying and aggressive behaviour in school to evaluate an anti-bullying intervention project in selected downtown Toronto schools.

Preliminary results showed that schools can be very effective in reducing bullying. One school reduced incidents of bullying and victimization by 50 per cent, both in the playground and classroom. Other interventions were not as successful. Pepler said the most effective anti-bullying intervention involves parents, teachers and principals.

Pepler's research shows that bullying peaks at about grades 4 and 5. And gender does not appear to be a determining factor: Girls can be bullies, too, through indirect aggression such as gossiping or excluding other children from groups.

The LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution was established at York University in 1980. Named after the late politician, lawyer and author Judy LaMarsh, it is dedicated to encouraging research which explores the themes of violence and conflict resolution in Canadian society.

Pepler is also leading a team of researchers looking into bullying and harassment among immigrant and ethnic minority high school students. That work is being done through another centre at York University, the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement.

Oprah airs at 4 p.m. on CBS and CFTO in the Toronto area.


For more information, please contact:

Sine MacKinnon
Senior Advisor for Media Relations
York University
(416) 736-2100, ext. 22087


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