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University, Stantons team on initiative to curb bullying in schools

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TEMPE – Arizona State University launched its partnership with anti-bullying advocate Nicole Stanton and her husband, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, to create a research and resource based program to prevent bullying.

The Dion Initiative for Child Well-Being and Bullying Prevention, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, will provide research and training to help educators build safer environments for children to learn.

“This is like a cultural moment,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “We’ve got to stop this bullying. We’ve got to get past this point where a single child or a group of children can negatively impact the outcome of another child.”

Crow said ASU’s New American University model provides a gateway to solve problems for the community.

“As a part of our vision, we’re trying to take responsibility for the outcome of the community,” he said. “That means taking on an issue like bullying and child success.”

The Dion Initiative is named after Nicole Stanton’s brother, who was bullied in school.

In 2012, she launched Stop Bullying AZ, which aims to increase awareness of bullying and provide tools for curbing it. She said her volunteer organization needed more resources.

“The needs in the community and the demands being place upon us started to become too much for us as a volunteer organization, and kind of around that time we realized there was amazing work at ASU,” Nicole Stanton said.

“As a business leader in Arizona, I want to make sure that when kids go to school they can focus on their school work,” she added.

Additional partners include the Arizona State Fair, Cartoon Network, Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids, R&R Partners Foundation and Arizona Friends of Foster Care Foundation.

Greg Stanton said the partners are putting their full efforts into the initiative because it is time to put an end in bullying.

“It’s fair to say bullying is no longer acceptable in this society,” he said.

ASU already developed an app called BullyBlocker and a Recycle Bike Program that aims to cut down on bullying by encouraging physical fitness and self-esteem, and Brad Snyder, executive director of the Dion Initiative, said there’s more to come.

“I’m sure there must be a limit to what we can do, but right now I think that limit is very far away,” he said.