Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul

Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul
Assistant Professor

Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, having joined the department in 2021. Dr. Sukhawathanakul received her PhD from the University of Victoria in 2016 amd completing post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Manitoba and at UVic. She has been an engaged Research Fellow with the Centre for Youth & Society since returning to UVic.

Dr. Sukhawathanakul's research focuses on identifying factors that enhance or complicate the social and emotional development of children and adolescents and understanding how we can best support the youth within their environment. She is involved in several projects that develop, disseminate, and evaluate prevention programs for children and youth, including bullying, violence, and injury prevention. 

I apply developmental psychology and research into creating developmentally-appropriate programs for kids, and understanding how programs work and who they work for, following a prevention science framework. 

— Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul

Dr. Sukhawathanakul engages with a variety of community organizations in her research. In collaboration with Foundry BC, Dr. Sukhawathanakul is engaged in a project bringing together intervention creators with schools and other institutions who deliver the programs to work towards a shared understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and how these interventions can best meet the needs of youth in these communities. She is also working with the CRD Traffic Safety Commission to cannabis-related harms in a traffic safety context by identifying the most at-risk users for driving impaired and develop interventions. However, a large portion of her work focusses primarily on the prevention of bullying and promotion of pro-social skills among children.

A lot of my research has shown that if we bolster leadership skills, a sense of belonging, and commitment to the community, you get kids who are more invested in the community and more likely to help other people. So overall, violence prevention is promoted in these communities.

— Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul

During Dr. Sukhawathanakul's time as a student, she was mentored by CFYS' founding Director and continuing Research Fellow, Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater. Dr. Leadbeater was one of the original creators of the WITS Programs, which aim to bring together schools, families, and community members to help elementary school children learn effective strategies on how to deal with bullying and peer victimization. Over time, Dr. Sukhawathanakul has taken over work on various extensions of the WITS Programs. The intervention has been implemented in school districts within BC, as well as adapted into both French and Portuguese for implementation in Quebec and Brazil. Schools in Canada and Brazil that are successful in using the programs to social responsibility and prosocial norms have been shown to also reduce instances of bullying.

Recent publications

da Cunha, J. M., Thomas, K. J., Sukhawathanakul, P., Santo, J. B., & Leadbeater, B. (2021). Socially responsible children: A link between school climate and aggression and victimization. International Journal of Behavioral Developmenthttps://doi.org/10.1177/01650254211020133.

Sukhawathanakul, P., Ames, M. E., & Leadbeater, B. J. (2020). The Influence of Emotional Support from Parents, Peers, and Romantic Partners on Changes in Purpose in Life and Mastery in Young Adulthood. Canadian Journal of Family and Youth/Le Journal Canadien de Famille et de la Jeunesse, 12(3), 1-22. https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/cjfy/index.php/cjfy/article/view/29546 

Sukhawathanakul, P., & Leadbeater, B. (2020). Trajectories of peer victimization in elementary school children: Associations with changes in internalizing, externalizing, social competence, and school climate. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(6), 1751-1769.

More publications