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Temple Law Hosts First Ever American Conference on Bullying Across the Lifespan

Temple Law hosted Bullying: Redefining Boundaries, Responsibility, and Harm on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The conference, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, was organized by Professor Nancy J. Knauer and sponsored by the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review.

In her introductory remarks, Dean JoAnne Epps noted that the conference was "very Temple" in two ways. After remarking on the high number of familiar faces among the presenters, several of whom were Temple Law graduates, faculty, or staff, Epps remarked that the conference was "the latest in a series that we've hosted at Temple Law emphasizing not just interdisciplinary dialogue but dialogue about real solutions."  Epps then observed that "there is one other way in which this is a very Temple conference, and that is the belief that the law can be a useful tool in solving real human problems. We believe that through the law we can decrease human suffering and increase human joy."

The conference brought together scholars, advocates, policy makers, and practitioners from a variety of social and institutional settings to examine how bullying culture manifests across the lifespan and what legal remedies exist in each setting. Professor David Yamada, an expert on workplace bullying, praised the structural organization of the conference, citing the decision to take a "chronological approach, starting with bullying among school kids, moving on to higher education settings, then to the workplace, and finally to seniors" and noting that "the final panel examined best practices across that span. It was a great decision to organize the day that way."

The day's keynote address was delivered by Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. Ms. Bazelon, who is also the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School, emphasized the human toll of bullying culture as she described how various courts have grappled with it as an emerging legal issue.

The conference also brought Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, to Temple Law as the moderator of a panel on workplace bullying. Mr. Minter, who was one of the architects of the case that established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in California, recalled the important role that LGBT advocates and activists have played in drawing attention to the impact bullying has on targets and the need for real remedies under the law.

Written by Temple Law School

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