How to identify and terminate aggressive mistreatment of and by children.
Bullying has been around for decades, but with the advent of the Internet, cellphones and other electronic devices, children are being subjected to this form of intimidation far beyond the reaches of the playground. A social worker and educator specializing in youth issues, Whitson (Friendship and Other Weapons, 2011, etc.) outlines an eight-step practical approach to prevention for parents, community leaders and teachers. The first key is to distinguish between a harmless prank and actual bullying; the author explains how to identify aggressive behavior, why students engage in these acts and which kids are likely to be victims. By establishing a connection or bond with a child, adults will have a better chance of discovering acts of bullying and stopping them. Whitson includes actual scenarios with possible responses, so adults are not at a loss for words when confronting a bully. (Brief messages are best, she notes.) Teaching children how to be safe online is another important idea in this age of cyberbullying, which can affect even the youngest of children. The author emphasizes the need to teach netiquette and to know a child's passwords; she also covers safety strategies children can learn to protect themselves when online without adult supervision. Through communication with would-be bullies and their potential victims, much of this maltreatment can be avoided. "Maintaining an open dialogue about bullying and making sure that we continue to shine a bright light on this once-shadowed topic,” writes the author, “is the only way that we will be able to hold adults and kids accountable for bringing an end to this long-standing problem."
The conversation is far from over, but Whitson blasts a hole in the darkness, providing useful information on how this form of persecution can be halted.