Child & Adolescent Development: Overview

Review of "Your Child, Bully or Victim?"

By Peter Sheras
Fireside, 2002
Review by Barry McNamara, Ph.D. on Oct 9th 2003
Your Child, Bully or Victim?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the professional and the lay literature regarding bullying.  In this book, Your Child: Bully or Victim?  Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyrany, Sheras and Tippins provide a thorough analysis of the problem and specific interventions.  They employ excellent vignettes to illustrate their point and support their advice with research.  It provides much more than most books on bullying and victimization.  And that is the problem.  The title is somewhat misleading because it goes beyond the school.  Bullying and victimization is accurately portrayed as more than "boys being boys".  The authors cite Laurence Owens, widely regarded as the leading authority on bully prevention, in this regard, but provide limited information on what parents can do to get school involved or what schools can do.

There is an overemphasis on understanding why children are bullies and victim and little to provide a plan for parents and schools to develop collaboratively.  I am not sure parents or school personnel will be able to end school yard tyranny upon completion of the book.   

This is not to suggest the book is not a worthwhile addition to the literature on bullying. Quite the contrary.  It will be very useful for parents of victims (most parents of bullies don't recognize that their child is a bully) who want to provide their children with strategies for dealing with the problems and are considering professional help. However, even when the advice is useful it falls short on resources for parents and children. There are literally hundreds of books available, yet only six are listed for parents and six for children.

This book attempts to cover a lot of ground. It goes well beyond most books on bullying. It discusses causation as well as interactions and aggression and violence much more than other books that cover this topic.  Perhaps that is why you may need to reread and review chapters to obtain specific information.  The information given is accurate, used and supported by most practitioners, but it is not always apparent at first reading. (Part of this is the format and layout, which is usually an editorial decision.) Also, school personnel will need to seek out additional information if they want to reduce bullying in their schools. There are a number of excellent books that do this and the author cites two of them (Bullying Prevention Handbook: A Guide for Principals, Teachers, and Counselors by John Hoover and Ronald Oliver, and Bullying at School:What We Know and What We Can Do, by Daniel Olweus.)

In summary, the title is too narrow and the information provided with too broad. However, the selective reader will find useful advice, wonderful examples and supporting evidence to help them deal with bullying at home.  They will need to consult additional resources if they want to end it at school.

 

Dr. Barry McNamara is an Professor of Special Education at Dowling College, NY, and is author of several books, including Keys to Parenting a Child With Attention Deficit Disorders and Keys to Dealing With Bullies, both coauthored with Francine McNamara, and Learning Disabilities: Appropriate Practice for a Diverse Population.

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