Stop the Bully by Karen Tyrell
Digital Future Press, 2014
Author-teacher Karen Tyrrell is back with another excellent mental health book for children, which makes author-school counsellor Ali Stegert (me!) very happy. Bibliotherapy is a powerful addition to the toolbox of counsellors, social workers, foster carers and teachers. Stop the Bully is all about empowering kids with assertive anti-bullying strategies.
Stop the Bully is Karen’s second mental health book for kids. She writes from her personal experience with the trauma of bullying, a story which she details in her first book for grown-ups, Me & Her: A memoir of madness. She was bullied at work by parents of a student, and the resulting stress made her unwell. She was eventually diagnosed with and treated for Bipolar Disorder. With wonderful support and lots of determination, she made an inspiring recovery. Fortunately for us, she shares her stories.
Stop the Bully is a wonderful book for 8-12 year olds. Kids Helpline has endorsed it, and it is aligned with Kids Matter and the Australian curriculum. Check out Karen’s free children’s activities and teacher notes. You can win a copy by leaving a comment here or at any other blog tour stops (see below). The more comments you leave, the better your chances to win a book!Book
Today, I’m talking with Karen about her newest hit, Stop the Bully.
Q 1 – I’m always interested in discovering the genesis of a story. To do this, I conduct what I call “Story Genealogy,” where I trace the story back to its roots in the author’s mind. What was the catalyst or seed idea for Stop the Bully?
(Karen) To be honest, author friend and mentor, Anita Bell urged me to write a “bully book” with positive messages and strategies for kids, parents and teachers. She knew about my personal history as a bullied teacher and my passion about bully prevention. The idea of the story ending came first for me. With an unexpected twist. Then I wrote the story “backwards.” I’ve written many stories the same way.
(Alison) How interesting! One of my favourite authors, John Irving, author of Life According to Garpand A Prayer for Owen Meany, takes the same start-at-the-end approach. You’re in excellent literary company!
Q 2 – Do you feel bullying is misunderstood or does the public have a good grip on the dynamics of bullying?
(Karen) Bullying is a whole community problem with a whole community solution. One child’s attack should be dealt with a team approach: students, teachers, families and community.
Society often condemns the bullies without ever trying to understand them. The bully needs as much support and counsel as the victim. I have much empathy for the bullies.
(Alison) That is exactly why I value your book so much. The old saying is true: “Hurting people hurt others.”
Q 3 – The thing I love about your book is that it doesn’t pander to simplistic stereotypes. Real life bullies usually aren’t the sadistic baddies portrayed in Saturday morning cartoons. What are some of the common themes you encountered as a teacher that fed bullying behaviours?
(Karen) Children who bully often were victims of bullying or abuse themselves. Their aggression screams out an underlying problem. So many bullies suffer from psychological issues, low self-esteem and self-worth.
Q 4 – What is your top tip for…
a) Kids who are being bullied?
(Karen) They must report their bully attacks to the teacher, their parents and the community so a support team can rally around the victim, offering empowerment and solutions.
(Alison) Silence backs up the bully, I always say. Talking about it begins to break down the bully’s power.
b) Parents of kids who are being bullied?
(Karen) Parents must open up the discussion about bullying and strategies with their child.
Parents can encourage their child to read STOP the Bully, a few chapters per night, spring-boarding discussion to work out an empowering action plan to build confidence.
(Alison) It helps when parents model good communication and conflict management. These are things that are taught and “caught.”
Best Wishes to Karen and Stop the Bully!
Thanks so much Karen for her insightful answers and for writing such useful children’s books. I know I’ll be using Stop the Bully in my school counselling practice.
Wait! There’s More! The Blog Tour Schedule and PRIZES!
Comment to Win! Here or any of the stops above.
2 June STOP the Bully Release Party & REVIEWS