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Portrait of Ron Avi Astor
Ron Avi Astor

The Science and Practice of Promoting Student Safety and Wellbeing: A Systems Approach.

Ron Astor, Lenore Stein-Wood & William S. Wood Professor of School Behavioral Health, School of Social Work and School of Education, University of Southern California

Ron Avi Astor, holds joint appointments in the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Rossier School of Education. His work examines the role of the physical, social-organizational and cultural contexts in schools related to different kinds of school violence (e.g., sexual harassment, bullying, school fights, emotional abuse, weapon use, teacher/child violence). Astor’s studies have included tens of thousands of schools and millions of students, teachers, parents and administrators. Over the past 10 years, findings from these studies have been published in more than 150 scholarly manuscripts. This work has documented the ecological influences of the family, community, school and culture on different forms of school violence. His book, School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender, has been described by leading scholars in psychology, social work and education as the most comprehensive theoretically and empirically sound study of school violence conducted to date. Astor has also developed a school mapping and local monitoring procedure that can be used with students and teachers to generate “grassroots” solutions to safety problems. The mapping procedure has received several international awards including the American Educational Research Association’s prestigious Palmer O. Johnson Award for best research article in 2000. The mapping and monitoring procedure is used in schools across the globe including Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. Dr. Astor continues to conduct studies on the epidemiology of school violence in different cultures, the effects of stereotyping on the approval of violence across development in different cultures and democracy-oriented intervention studies that promote student and teacher participation to achieve school safety. The findings of these studies have been widely cited in the international media in the United States and Israel. Currently, Astor is applying knowledge gained from these prior studies to improve school climate in military-connected schools. As principal investigator, Astor and his colleagues are leading an eight-year Department of Defense Educational Activity funded-research partnership with eight school districts.

Portrait of Dorothy Espelage
Dorothy Espelage

Research-Informed Bullying and Sexual Violence Prevention Among Youth: Social-Emotional Learning and School Climate Improvement Approaches.

Dorothy Espelage, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Florida–Gainesville 

Dorothy L. Espelage is Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida at Gainesville. She is the recipient of the American Psychological Association (APA) Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention Science and the 2016 APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy, and is a Fellow of APA, Association of Psychological Sciences (APS), and American Educational Research Association (AERA). She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. Over the last 20 years, she has authored over 140 peer reviewed articles, five edited books, and 30 chapters on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, dating violence, and gang violence. Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming and she has secured six and half million dollars of external funding. She advises members of the U.S. Congress and Senate on bully prevention legislation. She conducts regular webinars for Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to disseminate research. She just completed a CDC-funded study that included a randomized clinical trial (RCT) of a social emotional learning prevention program in 36 middle schools to reduce aggression. The NIJ is funding her to track kids to examine whether these effects remain as kids navigate challenges of high school. CDC is funding another RCT of this program in comparison to a gender-enhanced social-emotional program in 28 Illinois middle schools. She just received a 5-year large grant to prevent bullying and promote school safety in high schools from NIJ. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011, and has been a consultant on the website and consultant to the National Anti-bullying Campaign, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has presented multiple times at the Federal Partnership to End Bullying Summit and Conference. She is a consultant to the National Institutes of Health Pathways to Prevention Initiative to address bullying and youth suicide. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show, CNN, CBS Evening News, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Anderson 360, and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal.