Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security

Cyberbullying: Upstander Junior

Cyberbullying affects millions of students each year.

It’s become so ingrained in how kids and adults interact online, that sometimes we don’t even see it. Or if we do, we don’t know what to do about it.

That’s why Pitt Cyber, supported by AT&T, is working to develop Upstander Junior. Upstander Junior is an assembly program for middle schools that includes an ongoing mentoring component to help middle school students fight cyberbullying, building on AT&T’s Upstander Program for high school students. The program is developed just for middle school students, educators, and parents by Pitt Cyber researchers.

To be notified when the program is available for use by your school, sign up here.

The Team 

Candice Biernesser is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry and is receiving mentorship from the CiTech Center at Pitt’s School of Social Work. She received her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, MSW and MPH from Tulane University, and is a licensed clinical social worker. She conducts research focusing on the use of technology to detect and prevent adolescent suicidal risk. She is especially interested in the influence of social media experiences, namely cyberbullying, on adolescent mental health. She is Co-PI on the Social Media Assessment of Suicidal Risk in Teens (SMART) study, funded by the Once Upon a Time Foundation, which is testing the feasibility of using a natural language processing algorithm to detect suicidal risk among adolescents. She is also a co-developer of Brite, a suicide prevention smartphone app for adolescents.

Rosta Farzan is an Associate Professor at Pitt’s School of Computing and Information where she researches social computing and socio-technical systems; studying how technology and people can come together to tackle major societal challenges. She is the recipient of NSF grants, Google Faculty Research Awards, and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. She holds her PhD in Intelligent Systems from the University of Pittsburgh. Farzan is a Pitt Cyber affiliate scholar.

Lisa Nelson is an Associate Professor at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Nelson’s research explores social networking technologies while questioning information ethics and tis enforcement on the Internet in an open society. She is the recipient of an ITR Collaborative Research Award from the National Science Foundation and of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur grant. She is the author of Social Media and Morality:  Losing our Self Control? (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and America Identified:  Biometric Technology and Society (MIT Press, 2010). Nelson holds a JD and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. Nelson is a Pitt Cyber affiliate scholar.

Mary Ohmer is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Community, Organization, and Social Action Program, at the School of Social Work. She has over 30 years of experience in community organizing and development. She conducts research and evaluation on civic engagement, and interventions to facilitate community capacity to address substantive neighborhood problems. She received her Ph.D. with distinction, and her MSW and MPIA from Pitt. Ohmer is the current recipient a federal research grant on civic engagement from the Corporation for National and Community Service.  She is also the lead author of new book by Sage Publications, Measures for Community and Neighborhood Research, the first book its kind to compile and synthesize measures for community research. Ohmer is a Pitt Cyber affiliate scholar.

Ana Radovic is an Assistant Professor of pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine. She practices at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health; holds board certifications in adolescent medicine and pediatrics; and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her research focuses on using technology to help adolescents with depression or anxiety access earlier treatment and support. She is the recipient of a NIMH career development award, to develop and study stakeholder-designed technology interventions that address the need to increase participation in treatment. Radovic is a Pitt Cyber affiliate scholar.

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