President’s Message: December

I feel proud of our association and the work that it does. When I think of our efforts, I am aware of the many issues which are relevant for OPA and the importance for us to become involved. In recent years, the topic of bullying has been very much in the public eye. Periodically, the media brings to our attention the story of yet another victim of bullying who has experienced mental, emotional or even physical abuse which is unwarranted. Among our children and young people, the targets are often representative of certain groups, more particularly LGBT teens, gender variant children, or young people with disabilities. Because these groups are often stigmatized or rejected by larger society, the bullying can be seen as an outward expression of larger societal attitudes.

As a group, psychologists are very aware and concerned about this topic, and the ongoing issues which continue to spring to light associated with it. Many of us work with children and families who are affected by bullying. Our clients can be individuals who are the target of a bully, or in some cases may be the bullies themselves (who have their own unique psychological issues and needs). Other psychologists are engaged by this topic simply due to their heightened awareness of human behavior and the struggles, issues and dynamics which affect people.

Over the course of the last two years, likely in response to the increased public awareness of this issue, I have spoken with a number of psychologists who feel we as a group need to be doing more to address the problems in this area. In response to these concerns, I have established a Bullying Task Force, which will be examining how psychologists may become a part of the solution to the problems in this area. The group is just beginning, and is being chaired by Ms. Kimberly Burkhart, a psychologist in training with special expertise in this area. Anyone who moved by the problem of bullying and would like to become more involved with the task force should contact Kim.  This is a great time to get involved on the ground floor with some important efforts which will be initiated by OPA.

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