Cooling the burn

March 31, 2011, Northeastern University
Two Northeastern students led an antibullying training session for Boston teenagers last semester. Getty Images.

"When we talked to the girls about cyberbullying on Facebook, it was like an explosion. They all knew someone who’d been bullied that way."

So reported senior communication studies major Hannah McCulloch, who, with junior Brittany Troy, led an antibullying training session for Boston teenagers last semester.

McCulloch and Troy developed the two-hour program themselves, as a project for their capstone course, “Organizational Communication Training and Development,” taught by associate communication studies professor and associate vice provost Elise Dallimore.

By the end of the semester, the program had had its real-world debut in a class of teen girls, courtesy of the Boston nonprofit Health Resources in Action (HRIA).

HRIA invites girls who act as peer leaders at such Boston organizations as Sociedad Latina, the South Street Housing Development and the Hyde Park YMCA to weekly sessions on a variety of public health issues. Afterward, the teens are asked to share what they’ve learned within their communities and their schools.

To create an antibullying program for these girls, McCulloch and Troy immersed themselves in gaining the necessary theoretical background and practical skills. Then they developed a needs assessment and a training contract for HRIA, designed the curriculum, piloted it in Dallimore’s class to get feedback, delivered it to the HRIA teens and, ultimately, evaluated its effectiveness.

“Hannah and I spent endless hours in the library brainstorming and doing research,” said Troy.

Dallimore’s capstone, McCulloch said, “was a really intense class, one of the most rewarding I’ve taken at Northeastern.

“We would learn something on a Tuesday, take it to our clients on a Thursday, then go back to class on Friday and talk about what the clients had said,” McCulloch continued. “By the end, we understood how to train, and what impact our training had on people.”

Best of all, McCulloch and Troy feel they helped shed some light on the hot-button issue of bullying — especially .

Troy said the teens she talked with didn’t fully understand the relationship between cyberbullying and suicide.

“They were shocked when we showed them an article about Phoebe Prince,” she said, referring to the South Hadley, Massachusetts, 15-year-old who killed herself last year after allegedly being bullied by classmates.

McCulloch and Troy advised the teens on how they could address cyberbullying without becoming victims themselves — such as by anonymously reporting abusive remarks to . “The were really receptive to that approach,” said McCulloch.

HRIA is one of more than 225 programs that partner with Northeastern through the Center of Community Service to enlist students’ help.

Laurie Jo Wallace, the HRIA training director, praised what McCulloch and Troy accomplished. “They were very responsible, very focused and created a great two-hour curriculum we will definitely use in the future,” Wallace said.

In fact, said Dallimore, “Health Resources in Action was so impressed they’re planning to market this to organizations all over the country.”

Related Stories

Recommended for you

When it comes to our brains, there's no such thing as normal

February 20, 2018
There's nothing wrong with being a little weird. Because we think of psychological disorders on a continuum, we may worry when our own ways of thinking and behaving don't match up with our idealized notion of health. But ...

Jymmin: How a combination of exercise and music helps us feel less pain

February 20, 2018
Pain is essential for survival. However, it could also slow the progress of rehabilitation, or in its chronic form could become a distinct disorder. How strongly we feel it, among other factors, depends on our individual ...

College roommates underestimate each other's distress, new psychology research shows

February 19, 2018
College roommates are sensitive to their roommates' distress but tend to underestimate the level of distress being experienced by others, finds a newly published study from New York University psychology researchers.

Brainwaves show how exercising to music bends your mind

February 18, 2018
Headphones are a standard sight in gyms and we've long known research shows listening to tunes can be a game-changer for your run or workout.

New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head

February 16, 2018
Our own unique experiences shape how we view the world and respond to the events in our lives. But experience is highly subjective. What's distressing or joyful to one person may be very different to another.

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.