Having personal experiences with bullying both from an employee and a parent standpoint, it was a disturbing and frustrating period to endure. First, both of my daughters were severely targeted in 4th and 1st grade, respectively. As parents, we were left feeling disappointed, stressed, upset and frustrated by the feedback (or lack thereof) we received from the administrators. Each experience with our daughters was an inference that school officials lack the patience and understanding of how to identify and resolve bullying. Rather than being supported and immediately addressing the issue, administrators were more concerned with rationalizing or justifying the cause of the bullying behavior by the aggressors, and even suggested the behavior was not bullying. These responses are no different from those I gathered during my doctoral research study, as the parents who participated in my research faced challenges and felt helpless in advocating for their children. Thankfully, we stood firm with the facts, and our children were able to safely overcome their bullies in a shorter period compared to most victims.
As a former employee who experienced bullying at work, it was the same disappointment and frustration I experienced with my children's victimization as it felt as though the organization and some leaders saw no wrong in their actions and the negative organizational culture they created. The type of bullying I encountered was in the form of intimidation and oppression. By oppression, I mean employees like me who used our voices and spoke up against questionable acts by management were blackballed. Yes, we were intentionally oppressed and found it very difficult for career advancement no matter how good of a person or worker you were.
Also, following the incident by the office manager who used humiliation and outrage to intimidate his staff and me, I was traumatized by his behavior and decided it was time to separate from the employer after filing an official complaint. Personally, this was like a slap in the face because I felt as though I've given so much to the organization with the value I placed on the organization's mission; and the investment I made in earning my Ph.D. to be a greater asset to the organization. I respected the daily work I performed, and I contributed significantly to the service I provided to my applicants. I went beyond my primary role as a case manager; I served annually as a volunteer for outreach work/events and internal projects (I even assisted HR in screening applications for interviews), and I proudly participated as a committee and board member. My personal and professional growth was essential to me, and my efforts were evidence of my commitment; however, my efforts and talent were, degraded, devalued, and underappreciated. Honestly, it hurt. Now, when I reflect on my experience, I'm proud of the decision I made to remove myself from a toxic environment and from an employer that did not value my talent. Today, these experiences are the driving force and catalyst to my becoming an advocate and expert in bullying, and I look forward to helping those who are facing challenges with bullying in school or at work.
During my undergraduate internship in 2002-2003 at Salisbury Middle School in Wicomico County, my team and I developed and facilitated a mentoring program, providing one-on-one conflict resolution and mediating skills to students who were identified by the program coordinator with ongoing needs of behavioral issues. One of the primary areas we focused on was educating and addressing bullying issues with bullies and victims. In my graduate program, I also facilitated a school bullying focus group in 2005 at Maryvale Elementary School in Montgomery County, to teach participants about bullying behaviors and how to avoid bullying others. I also attended several bullying workshops to learn about the latest studies while working with the students. My passion on this topic followed me even as I served as a member on the Committee on Hate/Violence at Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, in 2013. There I developed a brochure for students and parents for the annual bullying symposium and, provided rich knowledge and skills on this topic throughout the year.
My fascination with school bullying deepened during my doctoral research study in 2015. I explored how parents felt as they witnessed their children's bullying experience. The study looked not only at the steps parents took to address the problem, but how they advocated for their children. It also covered how bullying impacted the dynamic of the household unit. Shockingly, what my study revealed was baffling, disturbing and disheartening. Parents made an extreme amount of efforts to resolve the problem, but their relentlessness and persistence were not enough--this was a concern and very alarming. As I conducted the interviews, I felt their frustration and anger. As they walked me through their stories, I saw how difficult it was for the parents to relive their experiences, even though some years had passed with some of the incidents. Their pain was evident, especially as it related to how their families (as a whole) were negatively impacted.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
I earned my Ph.D. in Human and Social Services with a concentration in Social Policy Analysis & Planning. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Sociology and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Aligned with my passion for helping others, I am committed to using my knowledge and skills to influence positive change among students and adults.