Temple Law Hosts First Ever American Conference on Bullying Across the Lifespan

Temple Law hosted Bullying: Redefining Boundaries,
Responsibility, and Harm
on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The
conference, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, was
organized by Professor Nancy J. Knauer and sponsored by the Temple
Political and Civil Rights Law Review.

In her introductory remarks, Dean JoAnne Epps noted that the
conference was “very Temple” in two ways. After remarking on the
high number of familiar faces among the presenters, several of whom
were Temple Law graduates, faculty, or staff, Epps remarked
that the conference was “the latest in a series that we’ve hosted
at Temple Law emphasizing not just interdisciplinary dialogue but
dialogue about real solutions.”  Epps then observed that
“there is one other way in which this is a very Temple conference,
and that is the belief that the law can be a useful tool in solving
real human problems. We believe that through the law we can
decrease human suffering and increase human joy.”

The conference brought together scholars, advocates, policy
makers, and practitioners from a variety of social and
institutional settings to examine how bullying culture manifests
across the lifespan and what legal remedies exist in each setting.
Professor David Yamada, an expert on workplace bullying, praised
the structural organization of the conference, citing the decision
to take a “chronological approach, starting with bullying among
school kids, moving on to higher education settings, then to the
workplace, and finally to seniors” and noting that “the final panel
examined best practices across that span. It was a great decision
to organize the day that way.”

The day’s keynote address was delivered by Emily Bazelon, senior
editor at Slate and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the
Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and
Empathy
. Ms. Bazelon, who is also the Truman Capote Fellow for
Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School, emphasized the human
toll of bullying culture as she described how various courts have
grappled with it as an emerging legal issue.

The conference also brought Shannon Minter, legal director
of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, to Temple Law as the
moderator of a panel on workplace bullying. Mr. Minter, who was one
of the architects of the case that established a constitutional
right to same-sex marriage in California, recalled the important
role that LGBT advocates and activists have played in drawing
attention to the impact bullying has on targets and the need for
real remedies under the law.