September 2, 2014
Keisha Bentley-Edwards, PhD, a University of Texas at Austin Assistant Professor in the College of Education, has received a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the effectiveness of current bullying assessments and to examine socialization practices for African-American students.
RWJF is the nation’s leading philanthropy working to build a Culture of Health in America. The two-year grant is awarded through the New Connections program and addresses RWJF’s Vulnerable Populations program priority area by focusing on how health is “diminished by all forms of violence.”
“Right now, assessment tools and interventions for bullying don’t seem to do a very good job of targeting African-American students,” says Bentley-Edwards. “Researchers on this topic ask African-American children if they’ve been bullied and the children almost always say, ‘No,’ even when bullying has occurred. As it turns out, there are cultural factors that determine how children define and perceive bullying.”
“If you ask African-American students about very specific behaviors they’ve experienced, such as, ‘Are you being picked on by someone?’ they tend to say, ‘Yes,’” says Bentley-Edwards. “Also, students don’t usually think they’re being bullied if it’s not happening every single day. My goal is to develop an assessment resource that takes all of these culturally relevant factors into consideration.”
Bentley-Edwards’ work will address African-American students who are perpetrators as well as victims of bullying because, according to research, the person doing the bullying was often a victim at one time.
“We are so excited to welcome Dr. Keisha Bentley-Edwards into the eighth cohort of New Connections grantees,” says Catherine Malone, DBA, MBA, RWJF Program Associate. “The program connects first-time grantees to the Foundation, and the new perspectives they bring are essential to solving the critical, complex issues affecting our nation’s health.”
This cohort joins the larger New Connections network of over 1,200 scholars.
New Connections is a national program designed to introduce new scholars to RWJF and to expand the diversity of perspectives informing the Foundation’s programming. The program seeks early- to mid-career scholars who are historically underrepresented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates, or individuals from low-income communities.
“The community of scholars garnered by the RWJF New Connections program is unparalleled,” says Bentley-Edwards. “I am honored to be among the grantees, to have access to the mentorship and collegiality of leading health scholars, and to have the opportunity to investigate and facilitate enduring good health for African-American children.”
About The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education
The College of Education is ranked among the top ten in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and includes leading national researchers in areas as diverse as autism, exercise physiology, math disabilities, depression, and literacy.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.