Book Review: 15 Ways to Zap a Bully

My son has had problems with bullies for more than a year. I'd hoped this book would give us some coping techniques and keep the dialogue about his experiences open between us.
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It feels like bullies are every where in the media these days, but there's a reason for that:

  • Close to half of all children are bullied at some point in primary or secondary school
  • At least 10 percent of children are regularly bullied
  • About 20 percent of teens had been made fun of by a bully, 18 percent of teens had rumors or gossip spread about them, 5 percent were excluded from activities they wanted to participate in, 4 percent were coerced into something they did not want to do, and 4 percent had their personal belongings destroyed by bullies
  • Only about a third of bully victims report bullying

Source: Bullying Statistics

15Ways

I was excited to receive a review copy of 15 Ways to Zap a Bully recently. My seven-year-old son has had problems with bullies in the neighborhood and at school for more than a year. I'd hoped this book would give us some coping techniques and keep the dialogue about his experiences open between us.

Author Dr. Jackie Humans was inspired to write the book after her daughter became the target of bullies. 15 Ways is illustrated in almost a comic book-style with panels, thought bubbles, and multiple perspectives. It turns out that the illustrator is Dr. Humans’ daughter! I love that it's a family affair.

The techniques themselves are clear and helpful for an older child. I would say the book helps kids who are above the fourth grade, and would be even better for kids in their middle school or high school years. For example, #13, "Trap The Bully With Words" suggests turning the bully’s words around on themselves using retaliatory questions. While this is absolutely a great suggestion, I think it’s easier for an older child or teenager to execute the turnabout. Practicing with a parent would strengthen the kid’s ability to make a comeback.

15 Ways has a disclaimer in the front that the book is not meant to deal with physical bullying. I was hoping for some more guidance in this area since my son experiences mostly physical bullies. We read it together to see if any of the techniques would work for him. He laughed at some of the suggestions, like #7 “Calling the Bully the Wrong Name.” I think it was helpful for him to see that other kids experience the same worries and fears about bullies, and that it’s not about him, personally.

Would I recommend the book? Yes. I think it’s a good start to help a child see that they are not alone and that other kids struggle with the same problems. Among the 15 Ways are some great suggestions that kids could use to empower themselves in hard situations. Some of the techniques are sophisticated, so they wouldn’t necessarily work for younger children (under age 8.) 15 Ways is a tool that parents can use to help identify and practice defense strategies with their children.

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