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Cyberbullying, “net banging” (the practice of recruiting gang members via social media), cultivating culturally sensitive learning environments—what do these wide-ranging topics have in common? They can all be studied through the prism of emotional behavior disorders—and Mickie Wong-Lo, assistant professor of special education at Northeastern Illinois University, is doing just that.
In fact, Wong-Lo was researching cyberbullying in 2006, long before it became part of the cultural lexicon. She completed her dissertation, Cyberbullying: Responses of Adolescents and Parents Toward Digital Aggression, in 2009. Since then, she has published 11 articles, delivered 15 presentations and served as a reviewer or editor for a handful of other peer-reviewed journals.
Currently, Wong-Lo is exploring the generational differences in responses to cyberbullying—as well as the efficacy of strategies created to prevent or curtail cyberbullying—with subjects ranging in age from eight to thirty. She also hopes to secure funding that will enable her to conduct research on how street gangs use social media sites in their recruiting efforts.
Her ultimate goal: to get enough funding to involve Northeastern students in her research. “I encourage my students to get out of their comfort zones and conduct research,” Wong-Lo said. “I had a couple of students follow through and present at national conferences and also at the University’s Annual Student Research and Creative Activities Symposium. Even if they’re not presenting, just exposing them to that environment can help them get a better understanding of evidence-based practices.”
Wong-Lo hopes that, regardless of the research she and her students are conducting, she’ll be able to keep pace with technological advances. “Technology is evolving so fast. I always have to keep relevant, otherwise it’s going to leave me behind.”
Something tells us that Mickie Wong-Lo won’t have any trouble staying ahead of the curve.