Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Local News

UB anti-bullying expert joins ‘Call for Action’ to prevent gun violence

Amanda B. Nickerson, director of the University at Buffalo’s Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, has endorsed a pointed “Call to Action to Prevent Gun Violence,” joining other prominent scholars in urging “a change in mindset and policy” to protect children and adults.

“In the midst of yet another tragic mass shooting in our country, this interdisciplinary group of researchers developed guidance to inform policymakers about how a public health model can and should inform violence prevention efforts,” said Nickerson.

Nickerson, who joined UB in 2011 as the inaugural director of the anti-bullying center, is a national expert on bullying and other forms of violence. She collaborated on the statement with other members of the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence — noted academics from nearly 20 universities.

The statement also has been endorsed by such national organizations as the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association and the School Social Work Association of America.

“School shootings and widespread community gun violence are far greater in the United States than other nations,” according to the Call for Action statement. “America cannot be great and realize its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if our children are not safe from gun violence.”

The group message notes that security measures are important, but to focus only on preparation for shootings is insufficient.

“We need a change in mindset and policy from reaction to prevention,” those signing the document urge. “Prevention entails more than security measures and begins long before a gunman comes to school. We need a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence that is informed by scientific evidence and free from partisan politics.”

The group says this comprehensive public health approach to preventing gun violence involves three parts: universal approaches promoting safety and well-being for everyone; practices for reducing risk and promoting protective factors for persons experiencing difficulties; and interventions for individuals where violence is present or appears imminent.

The document then outlines specific proposals to achieve these goals.

“Congress and the executive branch must remove barriers to gun violence research and institute a program of scientific research on gun violence that encompasses all levels of prevention,” the document says. “We contend that well-executed laws can reduce gun violence while protecting all constitutional rights.

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