Discussion Questions: Chapter Six

Towards a Bully-Free Culture

“Bullying exists when an environment supports it. A culture is a collective agreement about what behaviors are accepted, expected, or considered normal…School, community, and family cultures overlap.” (p. 102)

This chapter helps parents understand how bullying prevention works in schools, where their children spend their days. It identifies how different bullying programs operate within “the three tiers of prevention” and explores anti-bullying policies. Finally, it shows how building a culture of respect is the solution.

“There are three tiers to prevention that, when understood by families and society, can save a lot of  ‘tears’ down the road.” (p. 102) The primary prevention examples given in this book are OBPP, Harlem Children’s Zone’s Baby College, Tribes, Safe & Caring Schools, Squash Circles, Roots of Empathy, Reading Buddies, school clubs and enrichment, and community programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Secondary prevention examples are Bully Guards, Safe School Ambassadors, Trauma-Sensitive Schools, and the tertiary example is Restorative Justice. (See more resources on our School Programs page.)

Q: Do you now understand the difference between the three tiers? Have you seen any of these programs in action? Have you seen others? What about programs like Squash Circles that were made up by teachers? Give examples of the three tiers of prevention in your community or school culture. Perhaps attention to one or more tiers is missing. This identifies where anti-bullying work needs to be done. You can approach school staff using this language and ideas from these programs.

“Dan Olweus…his work has played a key role in the mindshift occurring in many countries—from seeing bullying as a natural part of school life to seeing it as a solvable social issue.” (p. 104)

Q: Have you seen this shift occurring as you have grown up? Where is your school, family, or community in this process? Is bullying still seen as ‘natural?’


“If your school does have an bullying policy, read it and…find out if it is effective.”  “The ideal school is a place where all teachers see all students as ‘my students.'” (p. 114) and “Unbalanced power relationships are the cornerstone of bullying.” (115)

Q: How do teachers interact with students, and with each other, at your school? Do you know who the counselors are in your child’s school? Have you talked to teachers or the principal about your school’s anti-bullying strategies? Is the staff unified on procedures? Do adults use good manners with each other? Are there expectations of respect? Is there a culture of respect?

“Children who learn assertiveness skills in elementary school enter middle school less likely to be bullies, victims, or passive bystanders.” 

Q: What did you think about the misconceptions of respect? Did they surprise/inspire you?

And finally, 

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 5 | Chapter 7 >>


Discussion Questions: Chapter Five

How Parents Can Interrupt and Prevent Bullying

This chapter gets to the nuts and bolts of bullying events, and helps parents help their kids when they are bullying or being bullied.

Bonus: Download & share out “What to Do When…” Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.31.02 AM

“Parents, teachers, and other school professionals sometimes feel annoyed by a child’s complaints about being picked on.” (p. 80) 

Q. In the section, “Interrupting Bullying Behavior and Providing Support” on pages 80-87, what advice surprised you? Which of these suggestions help to create empathy?

“Bystanders make a decision to either actively or passively support the bully. An ‘upstander,’ on the other hand, recognizes that he or she has a choice and decides, ‘I can and will do something to help make things better.'” (p. 87-88)

Q. What can parents do to give their children the strength and courage to be upstanders?

“Positivity is essential to health and happiness….Positive feelings can undo the damage of negativity….Positivity increases optimism and feelings of resourcefulness and resilience, and can counter pain and trauma…” (p. 92)

“The effect of positive emotion is cumulative and durable.” (p. 93)

“Positive emotions appear to ‘undo’ or dismantle the body’s fight-or-flight reaction.” (p. 93)

Q: What are some areas of your life where you can apply the 3:1 ratio and the concept of upward and outward spirals to create strength and resilience? What are some ways you can halt a downward slide, self-generate positive emotion, and un-do negativity in these situations?

“Children with good emotional health and pro-social skills are less likely to be bullied or to attract bullies; they are more likely to have good relationships and use their energies for constructive things such as reaching out to their communities, expressing their creativity and intelligence, and positively influencing the world around them.” (p. 80)

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 12.09.26 PMQ: On pages 95-96, twelve characteristics of mentally healthy people are listed, and on pages 97-100, six building blocks of healthy development are detailed. How are your children doing in each of these areas? Do you recognize any “holes” in yourself?


And if you still have time, ask…

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 4 | Chapter 6 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Four

Understanding Bullying

This chapter discusses what bullying is and what it is not, the difference between the words ‘victim’ and ‘target,’ and the problems and conditions that precipitate bullying and violence.

“Bullying doesn’t always look like bullying.” (p. 54)

Q: Have you seen bullying situations in your life that have been read wrong? Have you known nice-enough kids or adults who have gotten caught up in bullying dynamics?

Most bullies think they are in the right to act as they do. (p. 55)

Q: Considering the bullying continuum, so many incidents of violence have escalated from accidents, misunderstandings or wrong ideas. When have you seen that happen? 

Many adults grew up with myths about behavior that did not help prepare them for today’s bullying realities. (p. 62)

Q: How many of these do you remember from being a child? Do you ever repeat them to your own kids? What are better messages we could give? 

Fair fights, sibling rivalry, and initiation rituals are not always bullying, but they are still conflict. (p. 63-66)

Q: Conflict of every kind can be resolved. How is bullying different? 

Mainstream parenting practices contribute to bullying dynamics: Negativity, permissiveness, and power assertive methods. (p. 76)

Q: Are these habits common in your family or community? If not, what do parents do instead to get desired behavior from their kids? 

This question is always a good one:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 3 | Chapter 5 >>

Sign the Upstander Petition!

izPsfSuLuXXuAaE-800x450-noPadChange of plans…we are putting the online discussion guide on hold until fall. Meanwhile, Oaklanders are still invited to request free books and join us at Oakland Parents Together on Fridays

“Everyone loved your presentation & is excited to dive into your book!” That’s what the host of Kristen’s talk to Rancho Romero Elementary School parents said about her November mini-workshop, The Bullying Antidote: Raising An Upstander, Not A Bystander.  Ask Kristen about bringing this 45-minute presentation & conversation to your school!

Now here’s something fun: sign this petition to add “Upstanders” to the dictionary!