CiviliNation is a non-profit charity organization that focuses on stemming adult cyberbullying and online hostility. As such, we focus our attention on the 18+ age population. However, we realize that in the real world, there are overlaps between bullying of minors and bullying of adults, and certainly adults concerned about reputational attacks and adult bullying and cyberbullying wish to protect their children from similarly harmful situations.
It’s with that in mind that we read Preventing Bullying and School Violence by Stuart W. Twemlow, M.D., and Frank C. Sacco, Ph.D. (note : CiviliNation received a complementary copy).
What differentiates this book from some others in the field is the authors’ position that inadequate attention has been given to the role of mental health professionals in preventing bullying and school violence. Their solution is to create a collaborative environment comprised of leaders and experts in the educational, health care, and mental health communities to help identify the risk factors for bullying in their schools, and, based on appropriate interventions, implement strategically-targeted wellness programs.
The authors also spend considerable time making the case that bullying is a systematic process and not, as usually believed, a problem originating with a single person. They therefore suggest a comprehensive approach that halts the coercive power and group dynamics that both breed and allow bullying and violent behavior in schools to continue.
Although individual psychopathology, genetic endowment, and stage of development impact how children interact with others, the expression of violence and difficult-to-handle behavior in schools is always heavily influenced by the social context. With rare exceptions, these individual factors can be modified if the child is attending a school that can manage social aggression.
Their recommendations for the creation of a strategic plan of action include (1) Step One, understanding the role of individuals within the social systems of home, school and community, (2) Step Two, defining the problem by assessing why violence erupted at a school and examining such things as the role of shame that serves to ignite and fuel the violence, (3) Step Three, synchronizing community agencies involved in managing school violence, (4) Step Four, coordinating and managing community resources, and (5) Step Five, creating a goal-focused action plan. The action plan involves aggression containment, focus redirection, pressure reduction, shame prevention and valuing nonviolence.
The book is comprised of ten chapters:
- Chapter 1. School Violence: Range and Complexity of the Problem
- Chapter 2. The Family-School-Community Connection
- Chapter 3. Providing Mental Health Consultation to Agencies Intervening with Violent Children
- Chapter 4. Case Studies in School Violence: A Staging Paradigm
- Chapter 5. Bullying is a Process, Not a Person: Inviting the Community Into the School
- Chapter 6: Children Need to Feel Safe to Learn
- Chapter 7: Assessment of At-Risk Children
- Chapter 8: Activating Community Resources Through Therapeutic Mentoring
- Chapter 9: Role of Medical Leadership in Unlocking Resources to Address School Violence
- Chapter 10. Risk and Threat Assessment of Violent Children
- Chapter 11. Effortless Wellness and Other Afterthoughts
Preventing Bullying and School Violence is an excellent, research-based book that provides a proven model of success in halting the insidiousness of bullying among our children.