Imagine a place overflowing with respect, where differences are valued for the flavors they add and the learning opportunities they present. Picture a place where people are secure in who they are and embrace everyone around them, so bullying is no longer a reality.
The Empowerment Initiative, directed by Dr. Susan Swearer, is a destination for research and strategies for cultivating such places. Its mission rests on fathoming the roots of bullying behaviors and promoting three pillars of acceptance: personal, social, and cultural. The organization studies elements that influence self-esteem and relationships and seeks ways to “create healthy environments that support children, youth, families and schools.”
Studies sprout from the Bullying Research Network, which collates prevention and intervention research from around the globe, and the Nebraska Bullying Prevention Academy which explores topics including “the influence of youth empowerment to reduce bullying among peers.”
But how do you advance that knowledge in a more tangible way? The initiative does more than study youth empowerment; it supports efforts to educate and engage youth.
Outreach efforts traverse classrooms and concert tours. Projects include curriculum development and presentations at schools across the US. Also, Dr. Swearer is a chair on the Born This Way Foundation and joined Lady Gaga’s Born Brave Bus, which turned venues from her 2013 tour into oases for discussions and information on topics such as bullying prevention and mental health resources. These welcoming environments have touched many lives.
Susan shared with CPI how she feels “kindness and bravery should be the norm and everyone should strive to live and demonstrate these ideals.” The Empowerment Initiative strives to nurture that extensive an acceptance while informing and emboldening people to stand together so bullying has no room to take hold.
To learn more and read her advice on how schools can start reducing bullying, check out Susan’s spot on the 31 Making a Difference list.