Cresson, Pa. — Across the country we continue to hear about the often devastating effects of bullying. Social media can amplify the impact and, sadly, the aftermath can even be deadly. Mount Aloysius College faculty and students are partnering with local schools to stop bullying at every educational level, through the MPOWER initiative. Mount Aloysius students will become regional facilitators throughout the month of March, helping younger students understand the negative effects of bullying, and learning what they can do to help.
Executive Director of Mission Integration and Community Outreach, Christina Koren outlined the thinking behind the MPower initiative. “The mission of MPOWER is to help fellow educators teaching middle and high school students address what has become a critical need; educating students about the effects of bullying,” she said. “Through the MPower program, middle and high schoolers engage in constructive dialogue about the nature of bullying, examine what bystanders might do to mitigate these situations, and look at some creative solutions to hopefully end bullying in our schools.”
Associate Professor of Criminology, Dr. Elizabeth Mansley, the lead Mount Aloysius faculty member on the MPower project, outlined the need for the initiative. “MPOWER is aimed at promoting awareness of bullying issues for the students, their parents and the larger community,” said Dr. Mansley. “The program brings a team of trained undergraduate students, working under the guidance of trained College faculty, into local schools to work with students to reduce and prevent bullying.”
Mount Aloysius students will talk about topics like the psychological effects of bullying, cyberbullying, examine social problems and promote more civil discourse among peer students. The goal of MPOWER is to create a community of students who can identify and alleviate bullying starting at a younger age.
The program also extends to the Mount Aloysius College campus. Every Tuesday throughout the month of March, campus activities are scheduled to raise awareness and facilitate anti-bullying efforts. Students break into small discussion groups to examine their thoughts on bullying and how to create better relationships with their peers.
Koren explained that MPower is a two-phased program. “The first phase of MPower examines what is bullying? Further,” added Koren, “it educates participates about consequences of this behavior like higher rates of anxiety and depression, lower academic achievement, and adverse physical health consequences.”
It is also known the bullying often results in underage substance abuse and even peer-to-peer violence.
The second phase of MPower will be highly interactive. The programs calls for lectures and events created to raise awareness of the adverse effects of this destructive behavior.
The Mount Aloysius College MPower Team includes representatives from the College’s Psychology, Criminology, and Political Science faculty, as well as Mission Integration and Community Outreach. Members include: Dr. Elizabeth Mansley; Dr. Mary Shuttlesworth, assistant professor of Psychology; Dr. Matthew Arsenault, assistant professor of Political Science; Dr. Theresa Spanella, Mount Aloysius Learning Commons coordinator; and Ms. Christina Koren.