“It’s important to talk about bullying because it is a complex issue that affects us all, whether directly or indirectly,” says Sarah Vitorino 12PhD. ”The more we understand about the causes and effects of bullying the closer we can get to identifying solutions that can prevent this form of violence and promote healing.”
Whenever interpersonal violence is not addressed, victims suffer in silence and it is likely that the bullying will continue.
Vitorino will participate in the kickoff for Social Justice Week on Emory’s Campus. She will lead the March 22 panel discussion “Bullying: Villain or Victim?” The discussion will be held in White Hall at 2:30. It is free and open to the public.
With extensive experience observing, interviewing and teaching individuals in correctional institutions, Vitorino offers a unique perspective on the impact of bullying on an individual’s self-esteem and well being. Joining her in the panel discussion will be Michelle Lane Valigursky, assistant director of marketing communications for the Emory Alumni Association and author of the young adult novel Lili. Lili focuses on the impact of cyber-bullying and sexual harrasment in high school. Also featured will be Sierra and Justin of Be More Heroic, a national anti-bullying organization.
Vitorino shares a recommendation, “Individuals who have been victims of bullying should seek out emotional and psychological support from professionals who can help them process and heal from their trauma.”
She points out, “Victims of bullying may experience shame and feelings of alienation. Building supportive relationships and establishing a sense of community are also key to combatting some of the harmful effects of social alienation. Positive self-statements can sometimes help to improve self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.”
Vitorino says, “I believe that success is attainable because I have seen countless people overcome incredible odds. I also believe in giving people second chances and offering a space for redemption. I think it’s possible to have compassion for someone who perpetuates violence without ever condoning or excusing the violence itself. I think this is what Alan Cohen was referring to when he said, ‘Compassion enables you to meet someone where they are without compromising where you are.’”