How should parents react when they
learn that their child is a victim or perpetrator of bullying? In
their new book "Your Child: Bully or Victim?" authors Peter Sheras
and Sherill Tippins help parents learn how to understand and end
In the opening chapter, "The Roots of
Aggression," they write that bullying "is not a question of ‘bad
kids verses good kids,’ but a situation in which both children need
help in learning how to channel their emotions and successfully
interact with others." They also discount the belief that children,
when left to themselves, act in aggressive and bullying ways.
In "‘Kids Will Be Kids’ and Other Myths
about Bullying," Sheras and Tippins test your bully IQ and set the
record straight on some popular misconceptions about bullies (it is
untrue that some people are born bullies and nothing can be done
about it). They also refute several myths about how bullying works
(such as, it’s just a phase; they’ll grow out of it) and who becomes
a bully (boys and girls can become bullies).
"Bullying: Who, What, Where, When"
describes the different forms of abuse bullying can take (physical,
verbal, social and sexual) and differentiates between who can become
a bully or a victim.
In the chapters "Is My Child a Victim?"
and "Is My Child a Bully?" parents are alerted to the warning signs
that something is wrong when their child becomes a target or
aggressor. One way to recognize that a child is becoming a bully is
to identify the characteristics that bullies exhibit. Unfortunately
there are other factors that can drive a child towards bullying;
these factors have less to do with the child and more with parental
influence. These influences include a lack of involvement by the
caregiver, permissive attitudes toward abusive behavior, excessive
punishment or outbursts when disciplining children, and using a
parenting style incompatible with the child’s natural temperament.
"When Your Child is a Bystander"
counsels parents on talking with children about bullying, why it’s
important to act when being bullied, and how to stop bullying at
school, in the neighborhood or in the child’s world.
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"Empowering Your Child" gives parents
the tools necessary to work with their child to help them determine
whether they have been a victim of bullying. The parent should
ascertain exactly what happened, how the child can handle the
situation, the child’s response, determine if the response worked
and decide when the parent should intercede in the matter.
If you believe your child may be the
aggressor, you should help the child explore their feelings,
discover what makes them angry, learn how their behavior affects
other children and decide what to do when they get angry.
In "Teamwork: Talking with Bullies and
Their Parents" the authors help parents identify the problem within
a child bully, how to talk to the bully, solving the problem
together as a family and what to do when talking doesn’t work.
The book’s final chapters discuss how
schools can intervene and help parents solve a bullying or victim
problem, when it’s time to seek help from the community (such as the
police) or a professional (therapy, counseling, etc.), and how
parents can address the problem themselves (through self awareness,
empathy, communication and flexibility).
"Your Child: Bully Or Victim" is an
essential source of information for every parent. The book has a
wealth of resource materials and contains a suggested reading list
for parents and children, several websites devoted to bullying
issues, and support organizations and hotlines.
Adele Faber, co-author of the book "How
To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk," writes that
Sheras and Tippins’ book is "A rich resource for parents and
educators determined to end bullying behavior … Filled with fresh
insights and practical suggestions for civilizing the bully and
empowering the victim."
This book is
recommended for all parents, especially those who are concerned
about their child becoming a bully or a victim of bullying.
[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln
Public Library District]