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Publications: Meanness and Cruelty

As a part of its collaboration with the Born This Way Foundation, the Berkman Center is publishing on this website a series of papers that synthesize existing peer-reviewed research or equivalent scholarship and provide research-grounded insight to the variety of stakeholders working on issues related to youth empowerment and action towards creating a kinder, braver world.  This series, called the The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series (danah boyd and John Palfrey, editors), is presented by the Born This Way Foundation & the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and supported by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.?  The first set of papers, which were intended to provide insights to the new foundation, involved topics related to Youth Meanness and Cruelty.

What You Must Know to Help Combat Youth Bullying, Meanness, and Cruelty
by danah boyd and John Palfrey

In order to empower youth to create a kinder and braver world, we must begin by making sure that youth are safe.  Youth are not safe when they are being bullied, harassed, or threatened.  Thus, one of the first things that we must do to help youth be safe is combat the culture of meanness and cruelty that is at the root of bullying, peer violence, and abuse. Bullying is a systems problem and many well-intended people don’t realize the complexity of the issue.  This document contains research-driven elements of bullying that should ground any discussion of how to address this complex issue.

Bullying in a Networked Era: A Literature Review
by Nathaniel Levy, Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Edward Crowley, Meredith Beaton, June Casey, and Caroline Nolan

This research update presents an aggregation and summary of recent academic literature on youth bullying. The purpose of this document is to “translate” scholarly research for a concerned public audience, which may include but is not limited to parents, caregivers, educators, and practitioners. This translation highlights recent findings and developments in the literature and makes them accessible to the informed but non-expert reader.

An Overview of State Anti-Bullying Legislation and Other Related Laws
by Dena Sacco, Katharine Silbaugh, Felipe Corredor, June Casey, and Davis Doherty

This document provides an overview, as of January 2012, of existing state anti-bullying laws, pending state and federal anti-bullying legislation, and other relevant federal and state laws. It is meant to inform the discussion of legal policy issues around bullying, in particular at the Symposium on Youth Meanness and Cruelty being held at Harvard Law School on February 29, 2012 as part of the Kinder & Braver World Project.

Bullying Prevention 101 for Schools: Dos and Don’ts
by Susan Swearer, Mia Doces, Lisa Jones, and Anne Collier

This document provides a list of dos and don’ts for schools in developing anti-bullying practices and policies. The purpose of this document is to provide concrete ways in which schools 1) can assess if they’re doing the right things; 2) have tactical recommendations aimed at improving their school culture, curricula, and school policies. Findings are grounded in research findings on actions and activities that have been shown to help schools improve anti-bullying efforts.

Implementing Bullying Prevention Programs in Schools: A How-To Guide
by Lisa Jones, Mia Doces, Susan Swearer, and Anne Collier

This document represents a “how to” guide for schools trying to determine how to implement effective bullying prevention and intervention programming. It offers ideas on how to think about the process and how to identify and evaluate the right program for their community.

Changing the Culture: Ideas for Student Action
by Anne Collier, Susan Swearer, Mia Doces, and Lisa Jones

The purpose of this document is to provide positive action items that students can take to make their schools and communities healthier places and to challenge meanness and cruelty. It is presented as a list of ideas. While none of these initiatives have been evaluated, they are grounded in a research-driven understanding of interventions, practices, and actions that can be helpful in improving school culture.

Final Report: Symposium on Youth Meanness & Cruelty

As part of the official launch of the Born This Way Foundation, The Symposium on Youth Meanness and Cruelty took place at Harvard Law School on February 29th, 2012. Generously supported by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Symposium brought together experts, researchers, policymakers, foundation representatives, youth, and others to discuss research and findings related to bullying, meanness, and cruelty, while also emphasizing positive concepts like healthy relationships, civic engagement, and digital citizenship.

In addition to an introduction to the program overall (Section I), this report provides: high level notes from each of the sessions that took place during the Symposium (Section II), answers generated by Symposium participants in response to four driving questions that framed the discussions (Section III), and the central themes that emerged during the day (Section IV).

These sections reflect the collation of immediate takeaways from the Symposium, a synthesis of central themes, and participants' feedback.


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