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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Monday, May 27, 2013

Choosing a Good Day Care Center

School will be out soon for the summer.  For parents who have jobs to go to, despite summer vacation for the kiddies, this can create a problem of making sure the children are safe and properly cared for while Mom and Dad are at work. Putting the children into a day care center for the summer is one option. If you, as working parents, choose that option, there are some tips you should know to help you choose a good day care facility.
There are commercial day care centers and day care services that are provided from homes. Regardless of whether the day care center is a commercial one or a home facility, the quality of the center, the staff, and the services must be carefully inspected and investigated.
Here are some things that parents, when choosing day care for their children, should do:
·     Ask about the child to staff ratio. The fewer children each staff member is responsible for, the safer your child will be. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ratio of one staff person for 3 to 5 small children and one staff member for 7 to 10 older children. Also check to be sure younger and older children are separated.
·     Ask about the facilities policies on discipline, visitation, pick-up and drop-off, and other important issues. Ask if the policies are in writing and, if so, ask for a copy.
·     Ask about the training and experience of the staff. Are all staff members certified in basic first aid? Are all staff members trained in child development? Are all staff members trained in identification of abused children? Are all staff members trained in preventing and treating illness and injury?
·     Ask about the rules regarding frequent hand-washing. This is important in order to reduce the spread of illness among the kids. All staff members must wash their hands each time they diaper a child and before fixing meals or snacks. Staff should monitor that children was their hands after bathroom breaks and before eating food.
·     Inspect for building and playground / play area safety. Are poison control phone numbers and ambulance phone numbers clearly posted? Does the playground have impact-absorbing surfaces, such as wood chips, under the swings and slides? Are young children able to get to high places? Are the children protected from strangers? Are fire drills held at least every month? Are there smoke alarms throughout the building? Does the center use space heaters? If so, are they being used properly? Are safety gates used in areas for small children? Are electric outlets covered? Are sharp corners of furniture covered? Are the toys kept clean? All washable toys should be cleaned daily with a disinfectant cleaner.
·     Better ensure the safety of your children by looking for red flags that would indicate a particular center may have some problems. Here are some red flags: The staff fails to answer your questions and address your concerns. There is no way for parents to be involved in the day care practices. Your child tells you about problems or is not happy with his or her day care experience. Unexplained accidents happen more than once. There is a high rate or frequency of staff turn-over. The center can't offer you a written copy of the day care policies. Other parents tell you about problems or concerns with the day care center.
Picture credit: Afonso Lima

Monday, May 20, 2013

Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch

I am honored to introduce to my readers a guest blogger for today’s post to Child Safety. Jayneen Sanders (aka Jay Dale) is an experienced primary school teacher, editor and publisher. She is also an accomplished children’s book author, writing over 100 titles for Engage Literacy (Capstone Classroom). Jay is a strong advocate for sexual abuse prevention education and is the author of the children’s picture book on this topic: Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept.
I think you will find that her guest blog post below is very informative and offers valuable resources.
Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch
We teach our children water safety and road safety — it is equally important to teach our children ‘body safety’ from a very young age. As both a teacher and a mother, I strongly recommend to all parents that ‘body safety’ become a normal part of your parenting conversation. The sexual abuse of children has no social boundaries, and providing children with body safety skills empowers them with knowledge of what is good and bad touch.
The statistics of 1 in 3 girls and I in 6 boys will be sexually interfered with before their 18th birthday is truly frightening, and as many experts point out, this statistic only reflects reported cases. Also 93% of children will know their perpetrator. The community’s focus has so often been on ‘stranger danger’ — however, the reality is, the perpetrator will be most likely be someone in the child’s immediate family circle and a person they know and trust.
There are a number of fantastic books available to teach children body safety skills. Children are visual learners so story is an excellent medium when broaching this subject with your child. Here are my top ten.
Top Ten Books to Empower Kids About Their Bodies
1          ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ written by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Craig Smith, published by Upload Publishing 2011
2          ‘My Body Belongs to Me’ written by Jill Starishevsky, illustrated by Sara Muller, published by Safety Star 2008
3          ‘Everyone’s Got a Bottom’ written by Tess Rowley, illustrated by Jodi Edwards, published by Family Planning Queensland 2007
4          ‘Matilda Learns a Valuable Lesson’ written by Holly-ann Martin, illustrated by Marilyn Fahie, published by Safe4Kids 2011
5          ‘Jasmine’s Butterflies’ written by Justine O’Malley, illustrated by Carey Lawrence, published by Protective Behaviours WA
6          ‘Amazing You’ written by Dr Gail Saltz, illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath, published by Penguin 2005
7          ‘The Right Touch’ written by Sandy Kleven, illustrated by Jody Bergsma, published by Illumination Arts 1997
8          ‘It’s My Body’ written by Lory Freeman Girard, illustrated by Carol Deach, published by Parenting Press 1982
9          ‘I Said No!’ written by Zack and Kimberly King, illustrated by Sue Rama, published by Boulden Publishing 2008
10        ‘Your Body Belongs to You’ by Cornelia Spelman, illustrated by Teri Weidner, Albert Whitman & Company 1997
To further help parents, here is a summary of the very important body safety skills every parent should teach their child. Please note, these skills can be taught gradually and in daily conversations as your child grows.
Body Safety Skills
1.         As soon as your child begins to talk and is aware of their body parts, begin to name them correctly, e.g. toes, nose, eyes, etc. Children should also know the correct names for their genitals from a young age. Try not to use ‘pet names’. This way, if a child is touched inappropriately, they can clearly state to you or a trusted adult where they have been touched.
2.         Teach your child that their penis, vagina, bottom, breasts and nipples are called their ‘private parts’ and that these are their body parts that go under their swimsuit. Note: a child’s mouth is also known as a ‘private zone’.
3.         Teach your child that no-one has the right to touch or ask to see their private parts (and if someone does, they must tell you or a trusted adult (or older teenager) straight away. Reinforce that they must keep on telling until they are believed. (Statistics tell us that a child will need to tell three people before they are believed.) As your child becomes older (3+) help them to identify five people they could tell. These people are part of their ‘network’.
4.         Teach you child that if some-one (i.e. the perpetrator) asks them to touch their own private parts or shows their private parts to the child that this is wrong also, and that they must tell a trusted adult (or older teenager) straightaway. Reinforce that they must keep on telling until they are believed. 
5.         At the same time as you are discussing in appropriate touch, talk about feelings. Discuss what it feels like to be happy, sad, angry, excited, etc. Encourage your child in daily activities to talk about their feelings, e.g. ‘I felt really sad when … pushed me over.’ This way your child will be more able to verbalise how they are feeling if someone does touch them inappropriately.
6.         Talk with your child about feeling ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’. Discuss times when your child might feel ‘unsafe’, e.g. being pushed down a steep slide; or ‘safe’, e.g. snuggled up on the couch reading a book with you. Children need to understand the different emotions that come with feeling ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’. For example, when feeling ‘safe’, they may feel happy and have a warm feeling inside; when feeling ‘unsafe’ they may feel scared and have a sick feeling in their tummy.
7.         Discuss with your child their ‘early warning signs’ when feeling unsafe, i.e. heart racing, feeling sick in the tummy, sweaty palms, feeling like crying. Let them come up with some ideas of their own. Tell your child that they must tell you if any of their ‘early warning signs’ happen in any situation. Reinforce that you will always believe them and that they can tell you anything.
8.         As your child grows, try as much as possible to discourage the keeping of secrets. (Perpetrators rely heavily on children keeping secrets.) Talk about happy surprises such as not telling Granny about her surprise birthday party and ‘bad’ secrets such as someone touching your private parts. Make sure your child knows that if someone does ask them to keep an inappropriate secret that they must tell you or someone in their network straight away.
9.         Discuss with your child when it is appropriate for someone to touch their private parts, e.g. a doctor if they are sick (but making sure they know you must be in the room). Discuss with your child that if someone does touch their private parts (without you there) they have the right to say: ‘No!’ or ‘Stop!’ and outstretch their arm and hand. Children (from a very young age) need to know their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it in appropriately.
Lastly, sexual abuse prevention education is not only a parent’s responsibly, it is also the community’s responsibility. Ask your child’s kinder or school if they are running such a program. If they are not, ask why not. And PLEASE lobby for it.
Note: The above points are a summary of the body safety skills your child needs to learn. If you wish to learn more, go to such organizations as Just Tell, Childhelp and Stop It Now.
Some general grooming techniques to be wary of
     Be aware of any person who wishes to spend a great deal of time with your child, seeking out their company and offering to take care of them.
     A person who pays special attention to your child, making them feel more special than any other child; providing them with special treats, presents, sweets, etc.
     A person who is always willing to help out and ‘babysit’ when you are extremely busy and pushed for time.
Note: Sexual offenders will always plan who they target, they will work hard at getting both the child and the family’s trust. They will create opportunities to be alone with children or groups of children and may well target vulnerable communities. They frequently change jobs and address to avoid detection. They will often spend a lot of time with children outside of their jobs. Sex offenders may well set up a scenario where a child has a reputation for lying so as to discredit them if they ever should disclose.
Normal sexual behavior
Children have a natural curiosity about their bodies and sex. This is normal. If you see any of the following behavior try not to react in a negative way. Sexual curiosity is how child learn about their gender. Age appropriate sexual behavior is as follows:
           babies, toddler and young children exploring their genitals and enjoying being naked
           question about why they have a penis and girls don’t (vice a versa), ie trying to work out the difference between what it is to be male and what it is to be female
           showing others their genitals
           playing doctors and nurses and/or mommies and daddies, kissing holding hands with children of a similar age
           using slang words or ‘rude’ words they have picked up
           looking at each other’s body parts (particularly children under 7, close in age and who know each other ) in mutual agreement, ie no-one is being forced to show each other’s their body parts
           as they get older, curious about where they came from; may be giggly and embarrassed about body parts discussion
Some general signs that a child (0 to 12 years) may be being sexually abuse
Note: one or more of these indicators does not mean your child is being sexually abused, but if they do show these indicators, then there is good reason to investigate further.
     overly interested in theirs or other’s genitals
     continually wants to touch private parts of other children
     instigating and/or forcing ‘sex play’ with another child (often younger, more than 3 years difference in age)
     sex play not appropriate ie oral genital contact between a 7 year old and a 4 year old
     sex play with another child happening more than once, despite careful monitoring and discussion about inappropriateness
     persistent masturbation that does not cease when told to stop
     sexualized play with dolls or toys
     sexualized play involving forced penetration of objects vaginally or anally
     chronic peeping, exposing and obscenities
     touching or rubbing against the genitals of adults or children they do not know
     persistent use of ‘dirty’ words
     describing sexual acts and sexualized behavior beyond their years
     strong body odor
     sores around the mouth
     bruising or bleeding in the genital area, bruising to breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen or thighs
     withdrawn and anxious behavior
     secretive or say they have a ‘special’ secret that they must not tell
     child or child’s friend telling you about interference directly or indirectly
     going to bed fully clothed
     increase in nightmares and sleep disturbances
     regressive behavior, for example, a return to bed-wetting or soiling
     unexplained accumulation of money and gifts
In older children (adolescents)
     self-destructive behavior such as drug dependency, suicide attempts, self-mutilation
     eating disorders
     adolescent pregnancy
     persistent running away from home
     withdrawn, angry
     pornography interest; verbally sexually aggressive obscenities

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Empowering Children to Avoid Potential Abduction & Escape Captivity

Readers, if you have been following the news reports of the last few weeks, you know that three brave women are finally free in Cleveland, Ohio after being held against their will for an entire decade. The fact that the three captives never gave up and finally managed to escape from their captor, even after the public had considered them probably deceased after so many years, illustrates the importance of perseverance.
In light of this good news, it is important for parents to use this as a teachable moment for children. Below are a few safety tips regarding escaping from an abductor and never giving up from my children’s book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.
·       Teach your children how to avoid being grabbed by a potential abductor in the first place. Teach them to remember the word SKY?  It stands for scream, kick and yell.  Teach them that, if someone tries to grab them, they are to keep screaming, kicking and yelling.  They should never stop fighting to get away.  More detailed strategies for children to employ to fight back if grabbed by a potential abductor are provided in the book. Providing your children with the book and practicing those strategies with your children is one way to empower them to take a pro-active role to stay safe.
·       Teach your children the common predator lures. These lures can include such things as asking for directions, asking for help to find a lost pet, promising the child candy or money to accompany him somewhere, and threatening to harm family members if the child doesn’t comply. Instill in your children that, if they hear any of these lures, it is time to get away quickly. More detailed strategies regarding predator lures are provided in What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.
·       Remind your children that you love them. Reassure them that, if they were ever to be abducted, you would never stop loving them and you would never stop searching for them, no matter what the kidnapper says to the contrary. Teach them, also, that they should never give up trying to escape. There are detailed escape strategies presented in my book.
What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Follett, Baker & Taylor, and Ingrams. Here is a link to places of purchase:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dealing with the Bullying Dilemma through Books


Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students of all ages. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, nearly 30% of American youth are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of a bully, or both. American schools, including principals, teachers, parents and students alike, must recognize bullying for the increasingly serious problem that it is. Children targeted by bullies naturally feel fearful, alone, helpless, and perhaps embarrassed or ashamed, and rightfully so.
Some bullies make a show of false bravado, however. America essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson made a similar point in saying, “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”

Unfortunately, most bullies, because they have some sort of advantage in size, strength or power over their victims, find it easy to inflict verbal, emotional or physical harm on their victims.  Bullying can take the form of direct attacks, such as hitting, taunting, name-calling, malicious sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings, to more subtle attacks, such as spreading rumors or enlisting cohorts to reject and exclude the victim. Both direct attacks and more subtle forms of bullying are an increasingly threatening problem for children and teenagers.

One step toward addressing the bullying problem in our schools is by educating children, parents, and schools about the seriousness of the problem, its causes, and potential solutions. I have prepared a bibliography of good books that will help accomplish that goal. Not included in the bibliography, however, is my new book which will be published at the end of May 2013. It is called The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale. It is not only a fun and imaginative school story about a big bully, the kids he picks on, and a little boy robot who tries to lead the charge to stop the bullying problem in their school, but it is also an informational book. It includes two sections of researched and effective strategies and resources for children, parents, and teachers to help them better deal with today’s ever-increasing bullying problem.
Choosing from the books listed below will help children and adults better understand and cope with bullying. The teaching strategies that follow this bibliography can educate and open discussions about bullying, offering both defensive and pro-active solutions for coping with the problem.

Picture Books:
Amos, Janine. Bully. 2007. 32p. Cherrytree Books. $8.95. (9781842343937)
               K – Gr.3. One of the books from the Good and Bad series, Bully, relates the stories of  Sharon, Li, and Michael as they each experience what it’s like to be a bully. As with all of the books in the series, each story concludes with a summary that emphasizes the main points of good and bad behavior. Gwen Green’s beautiful and realistic illustrations will appeal to young readers.
Barclay, Jane. 2012. 32p. JoJo the Giant. Toronto: Tundra Books. $14.00. (978-0887769764)
               K – Gr.3. This heart-warming story, beautifully illustrated by Esperanca Mila with masterful acrylic illustrations, tells the story of Jo Jo a very small boy who is picked on because he is so small. He tries to eat healthy food everyday in hopes that he will soon grow taller. He musters up the courage to enter a race in which the prize is Rocket Racer shoes. He knows that, in the race, he will be competing against one of his bullies and arch-enemy. This is an excellent book to help children face self-esteem and empowerment issues.
Berenstain, Stan. The Berenstain Bears and the Bully. 1993. 32p. Random House Books for Young Readers. $3.99 (978-0679848059)
Preschool – Gr.3. When Tuffy, the new cub in town, picks on Sister Bear, Brother Bear attempts to set Sister’s bully straight. Tuffy, however, is a girl, and Brother can’t bring himself to fight a girl. This book is illustrated in black and white.
Cook, Julia. Bully B.E.A.N.S. 2009. 32p. National Center for Youth Issues. $9.95. (978-1931636490)
               Preschool – Gr.3. Illustrated colorfully, humorously, and appealingly by Anita DuFalla, this fun story teaches children to take a proactive stance against bullying. Its inspirational story gives hope to children in a fun and creative way.
Hankinson, Susan. Carrot-Walnut Pie. 2008. 28p. Author House. $12.99. (978-1438905594)
               Preschool – Gr.3.  Illustrations beautifully depicting forest animals are used as characters to teach children about fair play. In Jeffrey’s first adventure, he encounters a local bully. Because he is afraid, he strays temporarily from his sense of right and wrong. A little friend helps Jeffrey right his wrong and teach the bully he must earn respect and that pie, as with anything, is better shared with friends.
Harper, Ben. The Ant Bully: Revenge of the Ants. 2006. 24p. Scholastic, Inc. $8.46. (978-0439856799)
               K – Gr.3. Illustrated with bright colorful animation style characters, this story is adapated from the Warner Brothers film, Ant Bully. Lucas, who is picked on by the neighborhood bully, in turn terrorizes an ant colony. The ants use a potion that shrinks Lucas to the size of an ant. They put him on trial and find him guilty of crimes against ants. Lucas is sentenced to living like an ant which teaches him the value of teamwork and friendship.
Leaney, Cindy. Long Walk to School: A Story About Bullying. 2004. 32p. Rourke Publishing. $5.99 (978-1589527454)
               Preschool – Gr. 3. A book in the Hero Club Safety series, this book with appealing color illustrations by Peter Wilks, tells a story about how the Hero kids help a child who is being bullied, as well as the bully himself.
McCain, Becky Ray. Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story About Bullying. 2001. 24p. Albert Whitman and Company. $16.99 (978-0807557112)
               Preschool – Gr. 3. Softly illustrated in subtle hues by Todd Leonardo, this is a story about a young boy who finally gets the courage to tell his teacher that one of his classmates, Ray, was being persistently bullied by the other children. When Ray was absent from school, and our hero learns that the bullies have mean plans in store for Ray when he returns, he informs the teacher of the plot. The children include Ray as a playmate and, together, with the help of the teacher, take a stand against the bullies.
McLelland, Michael. Beating the Bully. 2007. Cedar Fort, Inc. $15.99. (978-1599550060)
               Preschool – Gr.3. This story, beautifully and realistically illustrated by Andrea Cope Kirk, tells of two boys who learn that beating the potential for being bullies themselves is far more important than beating someone else who bullies them. McLelland’s tale artfully focuses on the truth that the line between the persecutor and the persecuted is a very thin line indeed.
Moss, Peggy. Say Something. 2004. 32p. Tilbury  House Publishers. $16.95. (978-0884482611)
               K – Gr. 5. The young girl narrator who witnesses bullying in school, but remains silent about it, learns to empathize with the victims when she gets picked on herself. The story has a natural flow and demonstrates examples of different kinds of bullying. Ultimately, the story clearly and effectively makes the point that being a silent bystander contributes to the bullying problem.  Lea Lyons beautiful watercolor illustrations realistically depict school life with a diverse population.
Richards, Kitty. Back Off, Bully Boys. 2007.  24p. Simon Spotlight Publications; reprint edition.   $21.35. (978-1599613550)
               Preschool – Gr.3. One of the books in the Rugrats series, Back Off, Bully Boys, with the delightful illustrations typical of  Rugrats illustrator, Bob Ostrom, tells a story of victim versus bully. The bully McNulty brothers try to dominate the playground where the Rugrats like to play, but Angelica wins a victory over them.            
Barnhill, Kelly. The mostly true story of Jack. 2012. 319p. New York: Little, Brown Books for Youth. $13.42. (978-0606266949)
               Gr. 6 – 8. This is an intriguing story of Jack who has spent his life thus far trying to stay under the radar of the local bullies in San Francisco. He and his family, however, move to a new town in which he immediately becomes a target of bullies. The author employs the power of friendship to combat good and evil in this suspenseful tale.
Beard, Candy. Please Don’t Cry, Cheyenne: A Story About Bullying and Friendship. 2008. 138p. Create Space. $7.95. (978-1440417931)
               Gr. 4 – 8. Cheyenne, who is poor and plain looking, has no friends and deals with being bullied on a daily basis by a group of rich classmates. Cheyenne desperately wants to be accepted by the group and their leader, Crystal, who seems to have it all. Readers will follow Cheyenne on her dramatic journey toward triumph. The inspirational story will motivate children to befriend those who have been victims of bullies.
Cheng, Andrea. 2012. The Year of the Book. 2012. 160p. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. $5.39. (978-0544022638)
               Gr. 4 – 5. Anna Wang is a fourth grader who feels friendless after her friend Laura spends more time with other friends, especially mean and bossy Allison who picks on and makes fun of Anna for her homemade lunch sack and other aspects of her personality. When Laura makes efforts to renew her friendship with Anna, poor Anna isn't sure whether to trust Laura. Instead, she finds solace, insight into human nature and friendship in the classic children’s books she is reading. Adding to the pleasure of meeting Anna and watching her deal with the bullies who have shut her out, the pen-and-ink illustrations  enable readers to see Anna and her world
Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses. 2004. 96p. Sandpiper. $10.88. (978-0152051709)
               Gr. 4 – 8. A Newbery Honor book, this is a timeless and classic tale of Wanda Pretonski who lives in a shabby area and who, everyday, wears the same faded blue dress. Wanda, motivated by her embarrassment and shame, tells her classmates that she has one hundred silk and velvet dresses at home in all different colors. Wanda’s fib brings derision and laughter from her classmates, so much so that her Polish family moves to the city where she will be with others more like Wanda. Maddie, a girl who had liked Wanda, had been a coward and had not stood up for Wanda during her teasing. Now Maddie feels guilt that she had helped to make someone feel so unhappy that she had to move away. The characters are brought realistically to life with Lois Slobodkin’s color-washed sketches in this tale of humanity, compassion, and taking a stand for what’s right.
Ludwig, Trudy. Just Kidding. 2006. 32p. Tricycle Press. $15.99. (978-1582461632)
               Gr. 1 – 5. Just Kidding, beautifully illustrated by Adam Gustavson in acrylic paintings that realistically capture the story’s action and the emotions of the characters, brings to life the inspirational story of  D.J. who has grown weary of Vince’s mean-spirited bullying. With the help of his father and teacher, D.J. learns strategies that help him deal with Vince’s mean comments. Ludwig’s credible story, a companion piece to My Secret Bully, will help youngsters differentiate between good-natured and destructive teasing. The book will empower children by providing effective strategies for dealing with bullies.
Ludwig, Trudy. My Secret Bully. 2005. 32p. Tricycle Press. $15.95. (978-1582461595)
               Gr. 2 – 5. Monica, who has been friends with Katie since kindergarten, is troubled that Katie has begun to exclude, insult, and embarrass Monica in front of other classmates. Aggression between girls is often overlooked in literature. Ludwig’s book realistically portrays female aggression and highlights the problem. Monica shares her dilemma with her mother who counsels her just enough that Monica is able to solve her problem with Katie. Abigail Marble’s illustrations are lackluster and less than inspiring, but the book is a worthwhile addition to children’s collections because good material on the subject is not plentiful.
Ludwig, Trudy. Trouble Talk. 2008. 32p. Tricycle Press. $15.95. (978-1582462400)
               Gr. 2 – 4. Ludwig’s story, in straightforward text, addresses the prevalent problem of hurtful gossip. Maya Prevost’s refreshing mixed media illustrations bring to life a diverse, multi-cultured group of school children. Bailey is new to Hoover Elementary, and Maya is assigned to be her welcoming buddy. It doesn’t take Maya long to discover Bailey’s mean streak when she witnesses Bailey’s cruelty to another girl and her propensity toward spreading unkind gossip. With the help of the school counselor, Maya learns that such talk is “trouble talk”, and she learns how to choose friends with whom she can feel safe.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. King of the Playground. 1991. 32p. Atheneum. $13.42. (978-0689315589)
               Preschool – Gr.2.  Sammy, who has proclaimed himself  “King of the Playground”, won’t let Kevin play on any of the playground equipment. Kevin’s father, with gentle humor, teaches Kevin that words can be the answer to his bullying dilemma, and suggests ways to best bully, Sammy. The end result is that Sammy and Kevin become friends. Nola Langner Malone’s  appealing character illustrations are lively and colorful, while the imaginary scenes are subdued with more muted colors.
Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. 1987. 144p. Harper Collins. $12.47. (978-0064401845)
               Gr. 4 – 8. In Paterson’s Newbury winning novel, Jess Aarons, who wants to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, becomes best friends with tomboy, Leslie Burke. The fact that they are both teased and bullied by classmates bonds them together even more. The two friends create a secret kingdom in the woods called Terabithia where they escape and reign as king and queen, even over those who bullied them in reality. Jess and Leslie find solace in Terabithia until a tragedy separates them forever. Donna Diamond’s skilled illustrations realistically bring the characters and the fantasy kingdom alive for young readers.
Wesley, Valerie Wilson. Willimena Rules! Rule Book #6: How to Face Up to the Class Bully. 2007. 112p. Hyperion Books. $3.99. (978-0786855254)
               Gr. 4 – 8. One of the Willimena Rules! Series, this is the tale of Willimena who, on her first day of school, is faced with a bully known as Mean Irene. Children will love reading about how Willimena, the African American heroine of the story, puts Mean Irene in her place. Maryn Roos, the illustrator, realistically depicts the characters in bright, colorful appealing illustrations.

Wilson, Robert Evans, Jr. The Annoying Ghost Kid.2011. 102p. Robert Evans, Wilson Jr. $6.99. (978-0615576879)

               Gr. K – 3.  The Annoying Ghost Kid is a funny story about Corky, a ten year old boy, who is tormented by Duke, a younger boy who happens to be a ghost. Duke loves to play practical jokes on Corky. The fun begins when Corky, and his friend Jill, are challenged to find imaginative ways to stop the ghost kid’s tricks.
Informational Titles and Activity Books:
Cooper, Scott. Speak Up And Get Along!: Learn The Mighty Might, Thought Chop, And More Tools To Make Friends, Stop Teasing, And Feel Good About Yourself. 2005. 128p. Free Spirit Publishing. $12.99. (978-1575421827)
               Gr. 4 – 8. Cooper’s book is a collection of 21 strategies, written in a very kid-friendly vernacular, that children can use to avoid fights and stop bullying. The Mighty Might strategy is designed to remove all the fun from teasing. The Thought Chop strategy effectively helps children avoid self-defeating attitudes. These are only two of many very effective strategies for helping children stave off conflict and bullying, and for helping children better express themselves and build better relationships. Joe Fournier realistically illustrates the strategies in a style that is appealing and renders the strategies more easily understandable.
Elliot, Michele. Wise Guides: Bullying.2005. 114p. Hodder & Stoughton. $10.99. (978-0340714836)
               Gr. 4 – 8. Elliot’s book is a practical guide that is helpful, not only to children, but to parents on behalf of their children. The book effectively seeks to address the definition of bullying, solutions for bullying, and it gives kid-friendly advice about making the right kinds of friends and maintaining self esteem.
Finn, Carrie. Kids Talk About Bullying. 2006. 32p. Picture Window Books. $23.93. (978-1404823150)
               Preschool – Gr.3. Sam is a fifth grader who writes an advice column for younger children. On each page is a letter to Sam with a question about bullying. Through Sam, the young readers learn what a bully is and what to do about bullies. Illustrator Amy Bailey Muehlenhardt’s illustrations are cartoonish in style and depict a diverse group of children and adults in various races and genders.
Gourlay, Catherine. Friend or Foe? Plays About Bullying. 2010. 32p. Crabtree Publishing Company. $19.95. (978-0778773634)
               Gr. 4 – 8. Gourlay’s book features two plays for children to perform. One play focuses on the victim and the second on the bully. The readers is effectively presented with both points of view. This source is a great format for role playing in order to help children better understand bullying and what to do about it.
Kahn, Robert. Too Smart for Bullies. 2001. 18p. Future Horizons. $6.95. (978-1885477767
               Preschool – Gr. 8. Deputy Sheriff Robert Kahn’s book presents, in kid-friendly vernacular, tested and proven steps that children can employ to deal with bullying. Not just a tool for children, this book also serves as an effective tool for parents, teachers, and other childcare providers to share safety rules with children.
Karres, Erika V. Shearin. Mean Chicks, Cliques and Dirty Tricks:A Real Girl’s Guide to Getting Through the Day with Smarts and Style. 2004. 160p. Adams Media. $8.95. (978-1580629331)
               Young Adult.  This book includes over 1000 tips from young women bullies. It’s a survival guide for teenage girls, providing them with information about cliques, gossip, bullying and even gangs. The section called First Facts focuses on the attitudes of mean girls. The Cool quotes section provides advice from girls around the world. The Pop quizzes section provides strategies for determining who could be targets of girl bullying. The Power points section provides fun quotes and proverbs from informed and experienced sources to give girls hope. The Rx section focuses on remedies for bad situations.
Powell, Jillian. Talking About Bullying. 1999. 32p. Raintree. $6.79. (978-0817255350)
               Gr.1 – 3.  Powell effectively defines bullying, what it feels like to be bullied and to be a bully.  Offering hope and reassurance to young children, Powell assures children that being a target of a bully is never the victim’s fault. This is one of few non-fiction books on the topic of bullying that addresses this young age group. It would be a good companion piece to picture books on the subject, such as Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s King of the Playground or Stan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears and the Bully.
Pownall-Gray, Dickon. Surviving Bullies Workbook: Skills to Help Protect You from Bullying. 2006. 96p. $14.99. (978-1411676497)
               Gr. 6 – 10. This is an informative, step-by-step guide to help children deal with being the target of bullies. The user-friendly format focuses on strategies for escaping the isolation of being a victim, for rebuilding confidence, for repairing the damaging effects of bullying, and for developing the skills to make new friends. Pownall-Gray’s book would be a practical and useful addition to any home, school or public library.
Sanders, Pete. What Do You Know About Bullying?2004. 32p. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. $9.95. (978-1550413427)
               Gr. 4 – 8.  Sanders explores bullying from both a personal and social perspective. Storylines about children dealing with bullying are appealingly illustrated in strip form. The storylines, presented in kid-friendly vernacular, provide information about how social problems develop, and explain what to do if the reader finds him or herself in similar bullying situations.
Sprague, Susan. Coping with Cliques: A Workbook to Help Girls Deal with Gossip, Put-Downs, Bullying and Other Mean Behavior. 2008. 160p. New Harbinger Publications. $14.95. (978-1572246133)
               Gr. 4 – 8. Sprague’s book serves as an effective guide to help girls deal with cliques, gossip, teasing and bullying. It offers strategies for helping girls stand up for themselves, maintain positive self esteem despite teasing, and helps girls learn how to find the right kinds of friends.  It is a source for providing girls with the confidence they need to face social challenges.

Books for Parents and Teachers:

Alexander, Jenny. When Your Child is Bullied: An Essential Guide for Parents. 2007. 242p. Simon & Schuster UK. $15.95. (978-1416522355)
Adult reference.  Jenny Alexander, one of the UK’s leading experts in the field of childhood problems, such as bullying, has written an empowering book that provides strategies for parents to help their children deal with the problem of bullying. In addition, Alexander’s book provides parents with techniques to help improve their children’s self esteem and better cope with social problems.
Carpenter, Deborah and Ferguson, Christopher. The Everything Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Bullies: From Playground Teasing to CyberBullying, All You Need to Ensure Your Child’s Safety and Happiness. 2009. 304p. Adams Media. $14.95. (978-1605500546)
               Adult reference.  One of the Everything series, this book is a comprehensive guide to help parents ensure that their children are safe from bullying and that the quality of their children’s lives is not threatened. The book helps parents recognize the signs of bullying, where it takes place, and helps them to understand the differences between bullying among girls and boys. In addition, the book effectively addresses teaching social skills and assertiveness techniques and getting support from the school system.
Clarkson, Polly. Beating the Bullies: Twenty Inspiring True-Life Stories of Triumph Over Violence, Intimidation, and Bullying. 2008. 256p. John Blake. $15.95. (978-1844545117
               Adult reference.  Clarkson’s book focuses on inspiring stories of people whose lives were profoundly affected in a negative way by persistent bullying. She relates how each of the twenty people mustered up the courage to fight back and stand up to their bullies. This is an empowering book that celebrates bullying victims, their determination, and their spirit of never giving up.  
Freedman, Judy S. Easing the Teasing: Helping Your Child Cope with Name-Calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying. 2002. 256p. McGraw Hill. $15.95. (978-0071381758)
               Adult reference.  Freedman’s book is an important reference for teachers and parents who want to help children cope with teasing and bullying in their lives. Teachers and parents are provided with strategies to teach their children to discourage teasing. She offers such tactics as positive talk, reframing the teasing,  complimenting or jokingly agreeing with the teaser, ignoring the teaser, using humor to deflect the bullying or teasing, and, most importantly, how to get help from trusted adults.
Haber, Joel and Glatzer, Jenna. Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting, and Bullying for Good. 2007. 304p. Perigee Trade.  $14.95. (978-0399533181)
               Adult reference.  Joel Haber is an expert in the field of bully prevention. He’s worked with children, parents, and school staff to help them learn how to deal with the bullying problem. His book effectively delivers a supportive guide to help parents “bully proof” their children, build up their children’s self esteem and confidence, develop trust and compassion, and thrive in their social networking world. This is a much needed guide to help parents detect signs of bullying and intervene in a timely and lastingly effective manner.
Katch, Jane. They Don’t Like Me: Lessons on Bullying and Teasing from a Preschool Classroom. 2003. 133p. Beacon Press. $14.00. (978-0807023211)
               Adult reference.  Katch’s book offers an insider’s view of her preschool classroom as she tries to help her students understand and cope with teasing and bullying. She tries to make her students understand fair from unfair, and intimidation from being intimidated. She offers a descriptive and frank narrative of her classroom life among the very young and their social problems. This is a must-have book for teachers and parents who want to help children to feel safe and less vulnerable.
Lawson, Sarah. Helping Children Cope with Bullying (Overcoming Common Problems). 1994. 112p. Sheldon Press. $25.00. (978-0859696838)
               Adult reference.  Lawson’s book offers parents the facts and support they need to help their children solve their bullying problems. In addition, it provides parents with the wherewithal to develop their children’s confidence, self esteem, and resilience to avoid becoming victims of bullying in the first place.
Lee, Chris. Preventing Bullying in Schools: A Guide for Teachers and Other Professionals. 2004. 112p. Sage Publications, Ltd. $70.95. (978-0761944713)
               Adult reference.  Lee’s book is written from the whole school perspective, from preschool through university.  It is an essential guide for parents and educators who want to foster a safe learning environment for their children. The book offers effective activities and talking points with the intent of increasing awareness about bullying and affecting anti- bullying school policy.
McGrath, Mary Jo. School Bullying: Tools for Avoiding Harm and Liability. 2006. 248p. Corwin Press. $31.20. (978-1412915724)
               Adult reference.  McGrath’s book offers practical guidance and ethical solutions for dealing with bullying. Her book is an effective legal based approach to preventing or dealing with bullying and avoiding liability in the process.
McMullen, Carol. The Bully Solution: A Parent’s Guide: Effective and Practical Ways to Empower Your Child and Stop Bullying in Its Tracks. 2009. 160p. Scholastic Teaching Resources. $12.99. (978-0439024228)
               Adult reference.  McMullen’s book is filled with many practical and effective resources for demonstrating to parents how they can help their children solve any kind of bullying problem. It provides help to parents in recognizing the signs of bullying, gives them strategies to help their children cope with bullying and maintain self-esteem and confidence, and it addresses the issue of soliciting assistance from teachers and other school personnel to address the bullying problem in their schools. In addition, the book very effectively addresses one of the most recent and increasing bullying problems of cyber-bullying.
Rigby, Ken. Bullying in Schools: And What to Do About It. 1997. 295p. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. $39.95. (978-0864314475)
               Adult Reference.  Rigby’s book offers techniques to identify bullies and victims within the school context.  A positive aspect to the strategies presented in this book is the focus on diffusing potentially problematic situations, dealing with the bully in such a way that is non-punitive, and enhancing the self-esteem and confidence of the victim. In addition, Rigby’s methods tend to make the abuser empathize with the feelings of the victim.
Shariff, Shaheen. Confronting Cyber-Bullying: What Schools Need to Know to Control Misconduct and Avoid Legal Consequences. 2009. 296p. Cambridge University Press. $21.99. (978-0521700795)
               Adult reference.  This book, directed more toward scholars, educators, and public policy makers, presents an interesting overview of cyber-bullying from a legal perspective. Students, teachers, and other school staff are often the targets of an increasing trend of cyber-bullying and anti-authority expressions made via the Internet. Shariff reviews legal frameworks and judicial precedents from constitutional, civil rights, child protection, and tort law perspectives. She focuses attention on a variety of legal approaches that can help schools maintain a healthy and safe balance between freedom of expression, responsible supervision, child safety, and a conducive learning environment.
Shariff, Shaheen. Cyber-Bullying: Issues and Solutions for the School, the Classroom, and the Home. 2008. 310p. Routledge. $37.95. (978-0415424912)
               Adult reference.  This book explains how cyber-bullying differs from traditional bullying and how it is much more difficult to supervise as it frequently occurs outside of the school environment on home computers and cell phones. Shariff’s book is aimed at parents, educators, policy makers, and even the media and technology providers. She addresses strategies that involve education, legislation, and filtering technology. She also debates students’ rights to freedom of expression, but stresses that parents should take responsibility.
Slavens, Elaine. Bullying: Deal with It Before Push Comes to Shove. 2003. 32p. Lorimer. $24.45. (978-1417641888)
               Adult reference.  One of the Deal With It series, Slavens book is a great medium for prompting classroom discussion about bullying and how to deal with it. Brook Kerrigan’s illustrations, combined with Slaven’s basic information, make this a reader-friendly reference book. The text explains the varied forms bullying can take, solutions for dealing with it, and quizzes to test ant-bullying skills. Slavens provides a resource page of helpful organizations and websites as well.
Swearer, Susan M. and Espelage, Dorothy and Napolitano, Scott. Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools. 2009. 170p. The Guilford Press. $27.00. (978-1606230213)
               Adult reference.  One of the Guilford Practical Intervention in Schools series, this is an engaging reference to help teachers understand bullying and strategies for remediating the problem. Simple and easy to follow techniques are presented for developing school and district-wide policies for addressing the bullying problem and for targeting at-risk students with effective and evaluated interventions. Some of the topics address involving teachers and parents in making schools safer, address the root cause of victimization, and address the emerging problem of cyber-bullying. The book also includes reproducible lessons and discussion topics for teachers to use in their classrooms.
Thompson, Michael and Cohen, Laurence. Mom, They’re Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems. 2004. 272p. Ballantine Books. $15.00. (978-0345450111)
               Adult reference.  The authors draw upon their experiences as parents and as child psychologists to explain the dynamics of children’s social interactions. They explain that teachers and parents have differing approaches to conflict which are based on their own biased perspectives, and understandably so. The book is aimed at providing parents the needed perspective. Based on research and case studies, the book address normal social problems, at-risk children, and school and community problems with bullying, and provides reliable solutions.
Train, Alan. The Bullying Problem: How to Deal with Difficult Children. 2009. 208p. Souvenir Press. $15.56. (978-0285638297)
               Adult reference.  Explaining the underlying needs of both the bully and the target of the bully, this guide offers practical solutions to the bullying dilemma. Train’s resource focuses the problem on the child’s family dynamic and discusses the children’s needs. The author reveals the emotional frustrations of bullies and attributes aggressive or violent behavior to being a manifestation of such emotional frustration. The book provides answers to a variety of questions, including why children become bullies, their behavioral motivation, and how they choose their targets.

Teaching Strategies:
·        Ensuring that students have a better understanding of one another can help to prevent teasing and bullying situations. In this teaching strategy, suitable for kindergarten through fifth grade, children will explore their differences and similarities. Explain to the students that they will be playing a version of “Simon Says” in which only some students will respond to each command. Instruct students to pay close attention throughout the game because, at the end, each student must tell one new thing they learned about a classmate. Begin leading the game of “Simon Says” by saying such things as, “Simon says everyone who has blue eyes, jump up and down. Simon says everyone who has a cat for a pet, pat your head. Simon says everyone who likes to play basketball spin around three times. Simon says everyone who is left  handed, raise your left hand.” Choose commands that are tailored toward the similarities and differences of the students.  At the end of the game, direct students to sit in a circle and ask each one to name one way in which he or she and another student are similar. The similarity trait they share must be a similarity they didn't know before playing the game. Students might say, for example, "I didn't know that Bobby was left-handed" or "I didn't know that Maria had a cat."

·        In this teaching lesson plan, applicable to children in kindergarten through fifth grade, children will learn strategies for resolving conflicts. Print and distribute to each student copies of the "Rules for Fighting Fair" poster and "The Dino Pals: Time to Cool Down Poster" from the We Can Work It Out! coloring pages website at Discuss with students the information on the posters and then invite them to color their posters. Display their work when done.

·        Schools could participate in the annual “Mix it Up at Lunch Day”. This strategy is an effective lesson for students of all ages. The event promotes understanding and tolerance by having students eat lunch on that day with students with whom they don’t normally share lunch time. Hang signs in the cafeteria above the lunch tables with quotes from famous people. Appropriate quotes could include such wisdom as Indira Gandhi’s “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” As students file into the cafeteria, hand each one a quote and instruct him or her to sit at the table beneath where the quote is posted. Leave ice-breaking questions at each table that encourage the children to ask appropriate questions of their new lunch mates in order to get to know them better.

·        This teaching strategy is most appropriate for fourth through eighth grades. After reading The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, form 3 different discussion groups and assign each group one of the 3 main characters, Peggy, Maddie, and Wanda. Provide each group with a large sheet of chart paper and instruct each group to write on the chart as many adjectives as they can think of to describe their assigned character. After listing the adjectives, instruct each group to write about the good decisions the character made and the bad decisions made by their assigned character. Instruct each group to write some suggestions as to better choices the character could have made. Finally, have each group share aloud their chart results and discuss each one. This activity helps students learn about making good decisions and about fostering good peer relationships.

·        The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is about a girl who is teased unmercifully at school, so much so her family moves. After reading the book, have students take the online chapter quizzes and activities at the ThinkQuest lesson plan website -

·        Read Paterson’s novel, The Bridge to Terabithia. After reading the book, allow the children to view the Disney film version of the book. The story, which is about boy who is bullied in his school and feels like an outsider both at school and at home, is a very effective springboard for class discussion or debate. Discuss with students who was the victim and who was the bully. Have them share their feelings about it.

·        This teaching strategy can be adapted for use in third grade to middle and high school. Have students anonymously complete a survey about their experiences with bullying, evaluate the results, and discuss solutions to the problems with the students after the surveys are completed. Teachers can find and print the survey for distribution at the Education World lesson plan website -

·        More suitable for sixth through twelfth grade, this teaching strategy helps students learn about school violence by taking an interactive quiz, “School Violence Reality Check Quiz” online at the Education World lesson plan website - Teachers also have the option of printing out worksheets of the quiz, “School Violence Reality Check Quiz Worksheet at the Education World lesson plan website - Answers to the quiz can be found on the lesson plan website -

·        Also suitable for sixth through twelfth grade would be a research project about bullying. Provide students with a definition of bullying. The definition should include something similar to the following: Bullying consists of persistent threats, physical attacks, mean or insulting words, gestures, or social exclusion directed at a student or students by a student or group of students who are older, bigger, or more powerful. Have students brainstorm to make a list of fact-based questions about bullying. The list of questions may include such inquiries as the percentage of students who are bullied, how often are suicides the result of bullying, statistics on the number of bullies who commit violent crimes as adults, statistics on the number of schools that have anti-bully programs, etc. Arrange the students in groups and select some of the most important questions from the brainstorming session. Instruct each group to research print or Internet resources to find the answers to their assigned questions. Combine the questions into a quiz and invite students to take the quiz.

·        Role playing is an effective teaching tool. Using Catherine Gourlay’s book Friend or Foe? Plays About Bullying, which is listed in the bibliography, divide students into two  groups and have each group perform one of the two plays in the book. One play focuses on the bully, and the second play focuses on the victim. After the students perform the plays, have a discussion forum about the roles of both the bully and the victim in each of the plays and brainstorm solutions for the problems presented in each of the plays.

·        Effective teaching strategies can be employed using some of the other books listed in the bibliography.  Initiate some of the activities or talking points provided in Chris Lee’s book, Preventing Bullying in Schools: A Guide for Teachers and Other Professionals. Have students take the quizzes to test for anti-bullying skills in  Elaine Slaven’s book, Bullying: Deal with It Before Push Comes to Shove. Use the reproducible lessons and activities provided in Susan Swearer’s book, Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools. Using Erika Karres’ book, Mean Chicks, Cliques and Dirty Tricks:A Real Girl’s Guide to Getting Through the Day with Smarts and Style, administer the quizzes in the Pop Quizzes section which offers strategies for determining who is likely to be a target of girl bullying.

Picture credit: Ned Horton