On July 23, 2019, Frank Rzucek, the father of Shanann Watts spoke out about the online harassment and false accusations he and his family have faced after the tragic murder of his daughter and two granddaughters, Bella and Celeste. Listen to his remarks here.
Dr. Alexander spoke with Denver ABC and NBC about the negative consequences of cyberbullying and why individuals engage in cyberbullying or trolling behavior. To see the interviews, click here for ABC7 and here for NBC9.
Additionally, Dr. Alexander was interviewed by Fox31 about some countries and Instagram removing the ‘like’ feature on their social media platforms. Learn more about her thoughts here.
Summer isn’t just filled with just research and writing! Dr. Alexander was featured in the American Psychology-Law Society’s (APLS) Summer Learning Series on social media, where she was asked about professional and personal activities she’s doing over the summer.
GSPP PsyD student Carly Knauf interviewed Dr. Alexander for the latest The Colorado Psychologist newsletter. They discussed Dr. Alexander’s advocacy class (which Carly completed) and local engagement in public policy.
Wakanda Forever! Dr. Alexander contributed two chapters in the recently released book Black Panther Psychology: Hidden Kingdoms, edited by comic book psychology expert Dr. Travis Langley and award-winning writer and comic book creator Alex Simmons.
Dr. Alexander and Dr. Tracy Vozar co-authored a chapter entitled The Raising of a King: Father-Son Attachment between T’Challa and T’Chaka, which analyzes the characters relationship using attachment theory.
Additionally, Dr. Alexander authored a chapter entitled Black Girl Magic: Black Women as Leaders of Wakanda which discusses media tropes, misogynoir, and the importance of Black women as leaders.
Once again, Dr. Alexander and her students and colleagues presented at Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con). This year, they held two panels to a large audience. Here are the abstract for both exciting panels:
Anyone Can Wear The Mask: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation (moderated by Dr. Apryl Alexander)
In the last year Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse broke box office records, gained critical acclaim, and won Academy Awards, which was previously considered an impossible feat for comic book films. In addition to the exemplary writing, design, and direction of these two films, the yearning for characters with dynamic personalities and diverse backgrounds has made these films unique and popular. Comics and their associated media are becoming increasingly more inclusive and are making an effort to depict relatively positive images of underrepresented groups. With Captain Marvel and a rumored Black Widow movie on the horizon, it is clear studios are recognizing the desire for diverse content, characters, and perspectives. Further, many comics and television shows based on comics, such as Black Lightning and Cloak and Dagger, are incorporating more social justice-oriented material. This panel will discuss the importance of inclusivity and representation in the media and social justice themes emerging from current content. Also, we will present potential next steps in terms of creating more inclusive media. Lastly, we will pay homage to Stan Lee for his role in creating a more inclusive universe in his material.
Why So Many Orphan Princesses?: Triggering the attachment system in pop culture (moderated by Dr. Tracy Vozar)
Why do Disney princesses lose their parent(s) seemingly before the opening credits are through? Attachment theory states that loss of a primary attachment figure, such as a parent, is a life altering trauma. Loss of a parent is a common fear throughout childhood and into adulthood. The folks at Disney have mastered the art of triggering the audience’s attachment systems to draw in interest and foster an emotional connection with the protagonist. Disney’s not the only master of this method, with numerous production companies including Marvel, DC, Pixar and others harnessing the orphan trope to endear us to their characters’ plights. Further, the loss of parental figures is commonly used as a catalyst for character development, particularly for child or adolescent characters who are then parentified as a result. Unfortunately, insecure attachment and pseudo mature independence from primary caregivers is commonly glorified by these themes. In this panel, we will review the numerous and varied examples of the use of orphaned characters to generate audience engagement. We will delve into the theoretical and scientific bases of the effectiveness of the absent parent plot device, providing in-session exercises and generating group discussion.
Dr. Alexander authored an op-ed, which was published in The Colorado Sun. After the STEM High School shooting, there has been a call for increased presence of school resource officers. However, research indicates this may criminalize normative adolescent behavior for other children. You can read the op-ed here.
Additionally, Dr. Alexander and her colleague Dr. Kim Gorgens were interviewed about juveniles who commit mass school shootings for Colorado Community Media. The discuss the rare occurrence of having two shooters. You can find that article here.
On May 7, 2019, Colorado suffered another school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, resulting in one death and multiple injuries. Dr. Alexander was interviewed by The Denver Post —discussing sentencing options in juvenile versus adult court for the two alleged suspects (one 16 years old, one 18 years old). The article is available to read here.
Additionally, for more information on offering support to children, teachers, and first responders, please reach out to Dr. Alexander and the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at DU. For tips on how to discuss these events with children, here are some recommended sites:
In the aftermath of a shooting: Help your children manage distress (APA; February 2019)
Talking to Children about the Shooting (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
Back in Denver, Dr. Alexander was invited to participate in two talkback sessions for the Pulitzer prize-winning play Sweat at the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA). Written by two-time Putlizer winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Sweat is a play about working steel mill workers of Reading, Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. Many of the questions in the talkback centered around theme of economic inequity in the U.S.
Dr. Alexander was selected to participate in the American Psychological Association’s MOU Partner Collaboration and Exchange program. She attended the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Harrogate, England. The theme of this year’s conference was The Psychological Impact of Inequality and Dr. Alexander provided a presentation on the school-to-prison pipeline. She also networked with colleagues from throughout the UK and beyond regarding public policy and advocacy efforts (and enjoyed a lot of British foods).
April is Sexual Assault Awareness (and Prevention) Month. This year’s theme was I Ask, which centers on consent education—an important topic to Dr. Alexander as highlighted in her TEDxMileHigh talk.
For SAAM, Dr. Alexander was interviewed for the Life As She Knows It—a podcast co-hosted by her TEDxMileHigh colleague Kimberly Corban! You can listen to the podcast here or via your favorite podcast platforms. Additionally, check out Kimberly’s important TEDxMileHigh talk on sexual violence here.
In the last few weeks of the legislative session, Colorado HB 1032 concerning comprehensive sex education and consent education still needs to pass through the Senate. Dr. Alexander headed down to the Capitol with the ACLU of Colorado for Sex Education Visibility Day to promote the importance of this bill and speak with state legislators.
Finally, Dr. Alexander headed to Fort Collins, Colorado to the inaugural Northern Colorado Diversity Conference to give two workshops on healthy relationships. She had a great audiences of teens throughout the area who engaged in conversations surrounding relationship violence and bystander intervention needs.
Dr. Alexander was interviewed by Denver Fox31 regarding the recent arrest of Jussie Smollett, star of the Fox show Empire, following allegations of false reporting of a hate crime. The interview and article can be found here.
2019 is here and ought to be a great year!
The National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS) was held in Denver this year. Dr. Alexander was selected to attend the inaugural Academic Feminist Leadership Academy held before the conference, and co-facilitated a roundtable entitled Changing the academy from within: A conversation about opening doors and minds in graduate clinical training with her GSPP colleagues.
The following week Dr. Alexander headed to The Big Easy for the National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) mid-winter conference. Outside of eating an ungodly amount of gulf coast oysters, she gave two presentations. The first focused on the development of graduate-level curriculum in public policy and advocacy—discussing the development of her Public Policy and Advocacy course. The second presentation was conducted with her GSPP colleagues and entitled On fish, water, and what we don’t know we don’t know: Disrupting privilege in graduate clinical training. The presenters discussed how they discuss and disrupt privilege through pedagogy and experiential training in their training program.
Dr. Alexander was on Colorado Public Radio discussing ways to address police-involved shootings after 10 incidents of these shootings occurring in Colorado in the first few weeks of January. Check out the article and clip here.
Lastly, related to her TEDxMileHigh talk, Dr. Alexander testified in support of Colorado House Bill 19-1032 Comprehensive Sex Education. The bill would support consent education, healthy relationship education, and LGBTQ+ inclusive education in sex education programs throughout the state. The bill was passed the House Health and Insurance Committee in a 7-4 vote and is headed to appropriations!
Dr. Alexander co-authored a manuscript published in the Journal of the Academy of Psychiatry and the Law with several other leading clinicians and researchers in competency restoration. Dr. Alexander serves as the Director of the Denver FIRST Outpatient Competency Restoration Program.
Abstract: The optimization of trial competency restoration is a topic of growing interest and controversy in the fields of forensics, psychology, criminal law, and public policy. Research has established that adult defendants who have severe psychotic disorders and cognitive impairments are more likely than defendants without these conditions to be found incompetent to stand trial and are less likely to be restored to competency thereafter. Research has also identified some of the benefits of attempting restoration in hospitals, jails, or outpatient settings for defendants with different diagnoses or levels of cognitive functioning. Rates of restoration, length of stay necessary to achieve restoration, and, in some cases, how quickly defendants are found non-restorable are primary indicators of positive outcome. We sought to review the extant literature on competency restoration, with the goals of identifying implications for current practice and generating inquiries for future research. We found that there are significant advantages and disadvantages of attempting restoration in a hospital, jail, or outpatient setting on rates of restoration, length of stay necessary to achieve restoration, or length of time necessary to determine non-restorability, while controlling for several relevant factors (e.g., diagnosis, cognitive limitations).
Happy new year!
Dr. Alexander gave her first TEDxMileHigh talk to an audience of 5,000 people at the Bellco Theater in Denver, Colorado on December 1. The video entitled “Sex violence is preventable—here’s how” is now LIVE!!! Click here. Her talk discusses the importance of consent education and medically accurate sex education for young people as a means of preventing sexual violence. Please watch this important talk and share with others.
New publication in College Student Journal is a collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University student colleagues. Two of the co-authors were undergraduate students at the time it was written!
Abstract: Risky sexual behavior (RSB) is common among undergraduate students in the United States and previous studies indicate an increased likelihood of engaging in RSB while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is highly prevalent among college students, especially those students involved in sororities. The present study aims to examine the frequency of RSB in a sample of 330 sorority and non-sorority students at a Southeastern university using validated measures of RSB and RSB related to alcohol use. Results indicated no significant differences between sorority members and non-sorority members on measures of RSB. Implications for prevention and intervention strategies for college women are discussed.
Dr. Alexander was invited to speak at HokieTalks Denver Vol. 2, a networking and speaking session where three Denver-area Virginia Tech alum share stories and life lessons they’ve learning since graduating from Virginia Tech. In it’s first year, HokieTalks Denver won an alumni outreach award!
Her talk, entitled Ut Prosim: Finding Solutions for Violence Prevention, discussed how her experiences at Virginia Tech (i.e., working for a domestic violence program, clinical research), informed her career in forensic psychology and violence prevention. The audience was great, including the Hokie Bird ;)
Dr. Alexander received the Faculty Award at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology’s (GSPP) annual Redefining Mental Health: Celebration of Impact event (formerly the Philanthropy Gala). Each year an honoree is nominated and selected by the Graduate Student Association of Professional Psychology (GSAPP) and given to a faculty member who raises understanding and awareness for student scholarship and philanthropy at GSPP, as well as community advocacy and outreach.
Dr. Alexander was chosen to present her first TEDxMileHigh talk!!!
The theme of the December TEDxMileHigh is RESET. She will discuss resetting the juvenile justice system. For more details and to purchase tickets, click here.