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Anti-bullying effort partners with ASU

Phoenix First Lady Nicole Stanton speaking at podium at ASU
October 06, 2014

ASU President Michael Crow, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and First Lady Nicole Stanton are taking an active stance against bullying with the announcement of the creation of the Dion Initiative for Child Well-Being and Bullying Prevention that will develop evidenced-based and easily replicable programs to address this pressing problem in our nation’s schools.

The Dion Initiative, a resource and research program housed in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, is committed to fostering children’s health, mental health and academic success through the work of academic professionals, direct service providers and private-sector innovators.

“ASU is taking the next step in bullying prevention with the creation of the Dion Initiative. The Sanford School is the perfect fit for this program; its social impact initiative this year focuses on bullying,” Crow said. “Ensuring that every child is provided the opportunity to learn in a nurturing school environment will lead to greater success in later years and throughout life.”

Multiple projects comprise the Dion Initiative, including: providing training for educators to improve school climate; promoting replicable, evidence-based models to promote school readiness and improve school climate; improving the health and well-being of our communities’ most at-risk children, including foster children; and making cyberspace safer.

The Dion Initiative is named for the brother of Nicole Stanton, Dion France, who was bullied relentlessly as a child. Dion passed away in the early 1990s.

“Everyone in our community has a responsibility to stand up to bullying," Greg Stanton said. "Through this partnership with Arizona State University, the Dion Initiative will foster research-based solutions and provide anti-bully resources to children, parents, educators and community leaders. This effort is a testament to Nicole’s hard work, and I’m proud to see her passion translate into action that will make Phoenix a better place.”

What began as a personal quest by Nicole Stanton to combat bullying across Arizona has grown into a fully realized ASU resource and research program. She promised to work with educators, students and parents nearly three years ago by bringing together a group of volunteers known as Stop Bullying AZ that has gained national prominence.

After successfully launching the first Anti-Bullying Summit at ASU, as well as collaborating with other organizations that have bullying prevention as their focus, Stop Bullying AZ’s impact proved to be fast and far-reaching. Nicole Stanton’s hope that the program would spread throughout the state of Arizona is advancing, and it is now a fully realized initiative at ASU. She will continue as the chair of the initiative.

R. Bradley Snyder, Sanford School associate professor, will lead the Initiative with Nicole Stanton’s direction. Snyder, a recognized expert in the field of child welfare academic research and study, was previously a board member of Stop Bullying AZ and is the author of "5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids," as well as six other children’s book titles.

“The Dion Initiative isn’t creating a new nonprofit; it is supporting existing nonprofits. It isn’t creating a field of study; it is bringing together the best ideas from all fields of study,” Snyder said.

The T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of children, youth and families through innovative inter-disciplinary research, instructional excellence and active community involvement. The school’s goal is to continue to be a national and international leader in changing the ways academic units ask questions, develop and employ scientific methods and technologies, train and educate students, and interact with the broader social community.

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

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