“The vision and the dream is a bully free Canada and we are on our way.” ~ Wendy Craig
“I was totally surprised. I got a call on a Saturday afternoon and I was in shock,” said Craig, a professor and head of the psychology department at Queen’s University. “It was a good surprise, but still a surprise.”
For the past 25 years, Craig has been working on bullying prevention. Most notably, she is co-founder and co-scientific director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) and has consulted on bullying prevention initiatives with some of the world’s most prestigious international organizations, but she didn’t always know that working on bullying was what she wanted to do.
“My work started through a chance activity while trying to decide what to do my PhD dissertation on,” she explained. “I was working on a project where we had put remote microphones on children on a playground and one of the things that struck me was how aggressive their interactions were. I started to see that it was repeated individuals being aggressive on the playground and that spurred my interest.”
That interest eventually turned into PREVnet, a network that has brought together over 100 researchers and 65 national organizations to look at bullying and how to prevent it.
“We learned quickly that what was lacking was the prevention element,” she said. “One of the things that our partners told us was that they have a lot of policies about how to address bullying when it happens, but they actually, in their training, don’t talk about how to promote healthy relationships, which is the number one way to prevent bullying.”
Through her work on bullying prevention, Craig helped develop a training module that has now been taught to over 300,000 people across the country and internationally through partners like Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Red Cross.
Her work has also gained Craig quite a bit of recognition, including her recent appointment to the Order of Ontario, something she finds both humbling and encouraging.
“It was incredibly humbling to listen to the other recipients and learn about the work they have done, and to be among them,” she said. “But for me it was really a call to action to keep going and really accelerate the work. I felt like getting the acknowledgement was validating the work and recognizing the importance and significance of the work and challenging me to do more.”
The Order of Ontario is the province’s highest official honour and it recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of individual excellence and achievement in any field benefiting the people of Ontario or anywhere in the world. Craig’s work definitely fits these criteria, but she points out that she couldn’t have done it alone.
“It is extremely flattering, but I am constantly reminded that it takes a network,” she said. “The impact we have is because of all the graduate students and organizations we work with. It just makes you realize that it really does take a village to take on a project like this.”
So what’s next for Craig and her ‘network’?
“We are trying to structurally engage government, engage corporations and then take some of the most successful projects we have been working on and scaling them up and out across the country,” she said. “The vision and the dream is a bully free Canada and we are on our way.”