UNC to Host Worldwide Forum on Bullying

Carolina will host next year’s World Anti-Bullying Forum, the organization’s first biennial event held outside of Europe.

Dorothy Espelage, the William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of education and considered one of the foremost experts on bullying and youth well-being, will lead the conference. She will be joined by other UNC scholars and international researchers, practitioners, policymakers and educators. The conference will be held Oct. 25–27, 2023, in Raleigh.

The forum was created by Friends, a Swedish nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that was founded in 1997 and provides adults with tools to prevent bullying. Its goal is to end violence “against and between children” in accordance with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, according to its website. Sweden hosted the inaugural fourm in 2017 and again in 2021.

UNC was chosen to host next year’s forum in large part because of Espelage’s expertise, said Frida Warg, head of research and development for Friends and managing director of the forum. “Professor Espelage and her team have a unique capacity of organizing a forum where dialogue brings the bullying prevention field forward, as well as bridging the research-practice gap,” Warg said.

Espelage has spent 25 years researching bullying, which is on the increase. “As youth return back to school after COVID-19 school closings, they are experiencing higher rates of mental health issues and challenges with interacting with peers and managing conflicts. This stress can be driving some of the increase,” Espelage said in a written statement.

Espelage said UNC faculty and students in education, psychology, public health, social work and sociology have led the way in researching bullying.

—Laurie D. Willis ’86


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