The view

Nickerson joins national ‘call for action’ to prevent gun violence

Non-Violence sculpture at United Nations Headquarters in New York. .357 Magnum revolver bronze sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward


Published February 28, 2018

“Instead of relying on emotion, blame or political positioning, our goal was to use research to contribute to the national dialogue on these complex societal issues.”
Amanda Nickerson, director
Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention

Amanda B. Nickerson, director of UB’s Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, has endorsed a pointed “Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence,” joining other prominent scholars in urging “a change in mindset and policy” to protect children and adults.

“In the midst of yet another tragic mass shooting in our country,” Nickerson says, “this interdisciplinary group of researchers developed guidance to inform policymakers about how a public health model can and should inform violence prevention efforts.

“Instead of relying on emotion, blame or political positioning,” she says, “our goal was to use research to contribute to the national dialogue on these complex societal issues.”

Nickerson, who joined UB in 2011 as the inaugural director of the anti-bullying center, has become a national expert on bullying and other forms of violence. She collaborated on the statement with other members of the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence — noted academics from nearly 20 universities, among them the University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Carolina.

The statement also has been endorsed by such national organizations as the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association and the School Social Work Association of America. The full statement and a list of the endorsers is available here.

“School shootings and widespread community gun violence are far greater in the United States than other nations,” according to the call for action statement. “America cannot be great and realize its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if our children are not safe from gun violence.”

The group message notes that security measures are important, but to focus only on preparation for shootings is insufficient.

“We need a change in mindset and policy from reaction to prevention,” those signing the document urge. “Prevention entails more than security measures and begins long before a gunman comes to school. We need a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence that is informed by scientific evidence and free from partisan politics.”

The group says this comprehensive public health approach to preventing gun violence involves three parts: universal approaches promoting safety and well-being for everyone; practices for reducing risk and promoting protective factors for persons experiencing difficulties; and interventions for individuals where violence is present or appears imminent.

The document then outlines specific proposals to achieve these goals.

“Congress and the executive branch must remove barriers to gun violence research and institute a program of scientific research on gun violence that encompasses all levels of prevention,” the document says. “We contend that well-executed laws can reduce gun violence while protecting all constitutional rights.

“We call on law enforcement, mental health and educational agencies to begin actions supporting these prevention efforts. We ask all parents and youth to join efforts advocating for these changes, and we urge voters to elect representatives who will take effective action to prevent gun violence in our nation.”