Athens, Ga. – UGA College of Education Dean and Distinguished Research Professor Arthur “Andy” Horne joined pop star Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey in Boston for the Symposium on Youth Meanness and Cruelty held last month on the Harvard University campus.
Hosted by the pop star and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, the event was part of the official launch of the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, which was held before a crowd of policymakers, non-profit organizations, foundation leaders, students and youth at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Askwith Forum.
Horne was among the invited leaders in school violence prevention to participate in the symposium sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the MacArthur Foundation. Horne is internationally known for his scholarship on troubled families and ways to prevent and deal with bullying and aggressive behavior in students and families. His newest book, Empowering Teens to Prevent Bullying, was published in January.
Notable figures in attendance included Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Deepak Chopra, a global leader and pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine; Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard; and Kathleen McCartney, dean of Harvard’s College of Education.
Under the leadership of Danah Boyd, senior researcher at Microsoft Research and a faculty fellow at the Berkman Center, and John Palfrey, professor of law and vice dean, Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School and faculty co-director, this symposium brought together a small group of scholars, experts, civil society members and policymakers to interrogate key issues related to youth meanness and cruelty, including the topics of bullying, drama and harassment. These conversations and associated research and recommendations will support BTWF’s agenda to address issues such as self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development for youth.
The meeting focused on the current state of play of relevant literature and research, curricula, school-based and grassroots interventions, and the current legal and policy landscape. Sessions were geared towards opportunities to highlight and develop positive and urgently needed interventions that can address primary concerns regarding harm to youth.
“We focused on charting a path for future research and work by strengthening existing collaborations and fostering new ones; creating mechanisms for ongoing communication and exchange; building community among youth, parents, educators and policymakers; and identifying individuals who will contribute to a process that will, over several years, dig deep into the root causes and issues that give rise to aggression and bullying in order to make more substantial progress in addressing meanness and cruelty toward young people,” said Horne.
BTWF announced Lady Gaga’s $1.2 million personal contribution, dedicating $200,000 to cover the foundation’s overhead costs. Barneys New York has raised more than $750,000 for the foundation through product sales from Gaga’s 2011 Holiday Workshop and has donated an additional $100,000. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation also is committing $1 million in support, with $500,000 going to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to lead research efforts, and the remaining $500,000 directly allocated to BTWF to support online and on-the-road efforts to engage young people in civic life and deter bullying.
For more information on BTWF, see http://bornthiswayfoundation.org/.