An eleven-year-old boy was referred to me for assessment. His teacher suspected intellectual impairment, since he was two years behind in his school work.
I confirmed the deficit, but when I gave him an IQ test, he proved to be in the 'superior' range.
I have a way with kids. Soon he confided in me. For the past two years, he had been mercilessly bullied by a couple of bigger, stronger boys. They told him they'd 'murder him' if he told anyone. He had not told his parents. He had not told his teacher, or his elder sister. He had no friends at school, because the bullies threatened anyone who gave him friendly attention. For two years, he had been sentenced to daily terror, isolation and loneliness, and suffered in secret. Is it any wonder that he stopped learning?
Many people dismiss bullying as just 'high spirits', 'toughening up', 'part of life'. It isn't. It is a junior version of criminal activity, and it causes immense harm. What's more, it causes as much harm to the bully as to the victim. Many habitual residents of jails cut their teeth in the school ground, and if they'd been stopped then, they might have grown into law-abiding members of society. So, we all suffer from bullying.
This wonderful little book by Rita Toews addresses the problem in a way that will appeal to senior elementary school students. It offers advice I know to be valid and effective. It gives detailed, specific steps to take, reinforced by drawings that will raise a smile, and a quiz for both kids and their parents.
The format is intriguing: it is a book on the screen of your computer. Click an arrow, and the page turns. The program for producing a book like this is 'Desktop Author', supplied by http://www.ebook-publishing-tools.com/.
It is clear, easy to use and easy to view. Kids will love it. I only have one problem. In this day of viruses, people are justly scared of opening email attachments. And every time I double click on the book, my firewall program gets very upset and gives me dire warnings.
Rita has made an alternative version available, a '.dnl file', which apparently doesn't have this shortcoming. I haven't tested it out, because I knew the book was not a virus and blythely ignored the warnings.
There is one more remarkable thing about 'Bullying'. It is available free at http://www.domokos.com/freeebooks.html.
Oh, what happened with my little boy? With his permission, I told his parents, and marched into the School Principal's office. He sorted the bullies out. I then taught my young friend how to become the kind of person bullies will not target, and he went to a high school where nobody knew him so he could have a fresh start.
Rita Toews is a versatile Canadian writer. She writes with expatriate Hungarian Alex Domokos as well as by herself. Two of her books have received the LiFE Award: Literature For Environment. Rita is a strong environmentalist and campaigner for human dignity. Like me, she is an e-book enthusiast, mainly for environmental reasons.
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