Review: “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander”, by Barbara Coloroso

By Gina Badalaty

What can you say about a book whose opening is a poignant poem written by a 13 year old boy as a suicide note?  This had me in tears, and took me back to uncomfortable memories of high school, a time I don’t want to remember.  If bullying like that can happen to my kids, my response is, “How can we prevent this?”

“The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” by Barbara Coloroso answers that question.  It is a comprehensive guide to stopping the plight of bullying written for parents.  It’s an easy read, in terms of clarity and understanding, but a difficult book to digest in a short period of time because of the seriousness of the subject matter. Too often, bullying is seen as a rite of passage of childhood or as “just teasing”.  Coloroso quickly dispels those myths, filling the beginning with stories of bullying descending into violence, murder, and suicide at the hands of children.  With that groundwork laid, she takes a no-nonsense approach to the topic, soundly critiquing a global culture that encourages violence, superiority, and aggression and that turns our kids into bullies, bully victims, and/or bystanders that do not help.

After this vivid opening, Coloroso describes these three major players. She gives valuable insight into how a child can become a bully, a bully’s victim, or a non-responsive bystander, and what warning signs to look for.  She spells out how the child’s psyche develops and is damaged, then delves into family dynamics and how they contribute to – or prevent– a child taking on one of those roles.  I was surprised to see elements of our own home in the Jellyfish family, and  eagerly read on to learn what steps parents can take if they believe their child is a bully, or being bullied, and on how to turn a bystander child into a witness.  She is very clear on what current practices typically will not work and why – such as anger management classes for bullies, which do not get to the root of the issue.  She also includes a chapter on how schools and communities can become caring and involved to help prevent the cycle of bullying, and wraps up the latest edition of this book with a new chapter on cyberbullying.

“The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” should be required reading for parents and teachers.  Ms. Coloroso is not afraid to call the blame on the multiple parties involved, but she also provides a detailed roadmap for those who are ready to admit their part in this struggle and have the courage and strength to create bully-free societies.  In a post-Columbine world, the old standards of “just get over it” or “take a different route home” no longer apply, especially with the advance of cyberbullying.  The damaged relationships of the bully, the pain of being bullied, and the guilt of the bystander don’t go away when they get home or even when they grow up.  We need a plan for engaged families and communities to stop this problem before it gets any worse.  “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” is exactly that kind of help.

 

Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty is happily married, lives north of Philly and is mom to two special needs girls. She works from home as a web designer, mommy blogger, blogging trainer, and aspiring novelist. Since surviving a stroke at age 33, she counts every day as a blessing and an adventure. She is passionate about finding and telling compelling stories that touch the spirits of women everywhere. You can visit her at www.mom-blog.com.

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