Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater

Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology, having recently retired from teaching. She holds degrees in Nursing and Educational Psychology from the University of Ottawa and in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, New York. As the Centre for Youth & Society's founding Director, Dr. Leadbeater's career at the University of Victoria is heavily intertwined with the Centre's legacy. She continues to engage with CFYS as a Research Fellow to this day. 

Over the course of her career, Dr. Leadbeater has made internationally recognized contributions to research on adolescent parenting, emerging adulthood, adolescent depression, resilience in high-risk youth, and the prevention of peer victimization in elementary school children. She is highly committed to efforts to translate theory and research into training, policy, and programs – all actions that can improve the lives of children, youth, and their families.

Dr. Leadbeater is the director of the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey research, a 10-year longitudinal study assessing health during transitions to young adulthood. The Victoria Healthy Youth Survey offers a glimpse into the transition into young adulthood. Beginning in 2003, Dr. Leadbeater’s research team conducted interviews with a group of over 600 18-year-old youth living in Greater Victoria every two years. The interviews concluded in 2013, at which point the youth were nearing their 30th birthday. The survey aims to give a comprehensive picture of youth mental health, physical health, relationship quality, substance use, general well-being, and purpose in life, as well as the diversity of experience and opportunity afforded to youth. There are currently over 30 articles that use this data, as well as an official report on cannabis use. The team, now led by CFYS Research Fellow Dr. Megan Ames, hopes to follow up with the youth now as they reach middle adulthood.

There are more than 30 published articles on different aspects of the transitions into young adulthood including mental health, physical health, substance use, relationship qualities, wellbeing, and the purpose of life. We were really trying to give some sense of the profile of people's lives during that transition. 

— Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater

Dr. Leadbeater is also an author and evaluator of the WITS and WITS LEADerS elementary school programs for the prevention of peer victimization (https://witsprograms.com/). The WITS Primary Program has been implemented in elementary schools on Vancouver Island for over two decades, stemming from the work of the Rock Solid Foundation and University of Victoria, and continues to be used to this day. The WITS LEADS Program was created as a companion to WITS for children in Grades 4-6. Since then, the programs have been translated into French (DIRE and MENTOR, which are analogous to WITS and WITS LEADS) and into Portuguese (DIGA, which aligns with WITS). Dr. Leadbeater is currently collaborating with her former graduate student and current CFYS Research Fellow Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul in the development and evaluation of SPEAK UP, a new WITS program promoting social responsibility in elementary and middle schools.

We extensively evaluated the old program and disseminated it quite widely. We are now at the stage of modernizing [the WITS Programs] and creating new relationships for the dissemination. We are working really hard, and we will continue to apply for grants to support the program and further evaluation of our ongoing efforts. 

— Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater

Recent publications

Grant, S., Wendt, K.E., Leadbeater, B.J., Supplee, L.H., Mayo-Wilson, E., Gardner, F., & Bradshaw, C.P. (2022). Transparent, Open, and Reproducible Prevention Science. Prevention Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-022-01336-w 

Merrin, G.J., Leadbeater, B.J., Sturgess, C.M.B., Ames, M.E., & Thompson, K. (2021). Predictors of Early-Onset Cannabis Use in Adolescence and Risks for Substance Use Disorder Symptoms in Young Adulthood. Journal of Drug Issues. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00220426211049356 

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, 12(3), 1-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.29173/cjfy29546 

Merrin, G.J., Ames, M.E., Sturgess, C.M.B., & Leadbeater, B.J. (2020). Disruption of Transitions in High-Risk Substance Use from Adolescence to Young Adulthood: School, Employment, and Romantic Relationship Factors. Substance Use & Misuse, 55(7), 1129-1137. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2020.1729200 

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