Bullying in schools is a widespread problem. It has now reached the attention of policy makers, and none too soon. Bullying can take many forms. Whether it be verbal or physical harassment, or exclusion from certain activities, continuous bullying on children can cause long term damage. Children may find it difficult to form normal intimate relationships. They may become mistrustful of others.
Their self-confidence may be at risk.
However, even though this type of abuse will affect 20 per cent of our schoolchildren, Professor Rigby believes that we have grounds for optimism. His important and passionate book shows that there are ways to tackle the problem. It offers strategies to identify both bullies and victims. It presents ways to diffuse potentially troublesome situations. It shows that there are methods of dealing with bullies that are not punitive and damaging but can help make the abuser more aware of how the victim feels. It offers ways to enhance the self-esteem of the victims.
The key to reducing bullying lies in schools embracing an ethos in which it is impossible for this sort of abuse to flourish. Using recent Australia and overseas studies Professor Rigby demonstrates that positive steps can be taken and the incidence of this form of harassment can be reduced significantly.
This is a passionate and motivating book that policy makers, school administrators, teachers, doctors and parents will find invaluable. Both empowering and positive, it is a book that offers hope to all our children.
Ken Rigby is Adjunct Professor of Social Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, University of South Australia.