UB's acclaimed Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention takes on the challenges of bullying abuse and people with disabilities, as well as the opportunities for education and awareness, at its annual daylong conference on Thursday, Sept. 29.
Approximately 150 educators, human service and mental health professionals, community members and students have registered to attend the conference, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Classics V Banquet Facility, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.
"People with disabilities are more likely than their peers to be bullied," said Amanda B. Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center and a professor in the graduate school of education's department of counseling, school and educational psychology. "Many of these individuals are already addressing challenges in their lives, and bullying can impact them emotionally, socially and academically.
"Our work in this area has shown that supporting and empowering individuals who are bullied to advocate for themselves can help to reduce incidents of bullying and allow them to live with dignity."
Nickerson said this year's conference provides an opportunity to bring together researchers, leaders in the field and others invested in this issue to work toward solutions.
Speakers will include Chad A. Rose, assistant professor in the department of special education at the University of Missouri and recipient of the 2015 Alberti Center Early Career Award. Rose will discuss "Bullying and Students with Disabilities: Predictive and Protective Factors, Current Intervention Efforts and Future Directions."
Also presenting will be Julie M. Hertzog, director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center. Hertzog will speak on "Bullying and Students with Disabilities."
There will be two breakout sessions during the conference. Topics include: disability law, education, embracing diversity, mental health, parent perspectives and self-advocacy.
"We are making every effort to ensure that this conference will be accessible and appropriate for professionals, students, family members and people with disabilities," Nickerson said.
Interpreters from Deaf Access Services will be present at the conference. Shuttle transportation will be provided between the conference venue and the Metro Rail station at the South Campus as needed from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Presented in collaboration with the School of Social Work and the office of continuing education, the Alberti Center's annual conference is recognized this year by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers.
The Alberti Center also plans to make available at the conference the executive summary of the findings of a broad-based, needs-assessment and strategic planning study the center conducted in partnership with key stakeholders on bullying and people with disabilities. The project was funded by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (NYS DDPC).
Beginning with a literature review and planning with key stakeholders, the project team identified several areas to investigate through surveys and focus groups. These included gathering detailed information about bullying victimization and perpetration experiences, effects and coping, and asking stakeholders about their ideas for the types of activities that the NYS DDPC might initiate and fund to reduce bullying of and by people with developmental disabilities.
Survey responses were received from 350 individuals across New York, representing the perspectives of parents of children with disabilities in grades 3-12, adults with disabilities, youth with disabilities and the general public, including service providers, employers and concerned citizens.
For more information on the conference and to register, visit the conference website.