Bullying: Redefining Boundaries, Responsibility, and Harm

Welcome

Professor Nancy J. Knauer

Nancy J. Knauer
I. Herman Stern Professor of Law and
Director of D.C. Programs
Conference Organizer

On February 23, 2013, Temple Law School will host Bullying: Redefining Boundaries, Responsibility, and Harm. Over twenty leading scholars and advocates will explore bullying cultures in a variety of different venues, including K-12 education, college and professional schools, the workplace, and senior living environments. Emily Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate, will deliver the keynote speech and discuss her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Random House 2013).

There are times when we decide, as a society, that certain behaviors we once took for granted are no longer acceptable. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a recent example of this sort of normative shift. Not that long ago, sexual harassment was simply the cost of being female in the workplace, but the 1980s saw a period of redefinition when sexual harassment was reinterpreted and understood to be a form of sex discrimination that was actionable under Title VII.

Today we stand at a similar point of redefinition with regard to bullying. In our schools, workplaces, and assisted living facilities, behavior that we once dismissed as “horseplay” or “teasing” has increasingly been labeled as unacceptable and, in some instances, criminal. The redefinition of bullying has focused our attention on the targets of bullying, as research has clearly established the debilitating effects of bullying, including significant health problems and even an increased risk of suicide. It has also led to the development of interventions design to address the bully and attempt to prevent the behavior in the first instance.

For lawyers and policy makers, however, this period of redefinition has raised a host of questions. Judges and legislatures have redrawn boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, rethought questions of responsibility and liability, and recognized a category of harm that has recalibrated our understanding of injury and causality.

In this Symposium, we will address the phenomenon of bullying as it exists across the life course, from kindergarten through elder care. Our speakers will present new research and engage cutting edge public policy issues regarding public health considerations, innovative legal remedies, best practices, and the special considerations raised by considerations of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The final panel of the day will address ethical issues and outline pro-active policies to address bullying in our schools, workplace, and beyond. I invite you to explore the materials available here and encourage you to join this important conversation.

-Nancy J. Knauer
I. Herman Stern Professor of Law and Director of D.C. Programs,
Temple University Beasley School of Law

The Symposium is sponsored by the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. Up to five substantive and one ethics CLE credit will be available.