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Review of "Bullying and Teasing"

By Gayle L. Macklem
Plenum US, 2003
Review by Barry McNamara, Ph.D. on Jun 6th 2005
Bullying and Teasing

Bullying and Teasing: Social Power in Children's Groups, published by Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers (NY) in 2003 is yet another book that addresses the problem of bullying in schools.  The author, Gayle L. Macklem, covers the typical range of topics covered in most books on bullying, with a stated emphasis on social groups.  However, it is that aspect of the book that is most lacking.  The book is divided into 16 chapters.  The first three chapters deal with definitions, familial and school factors.  Chapters four through eight present information on bullying victims and bystanders.  Chapter nine addresses child centered correlates of bullying, and ten examines friendships and social groups.  The remaining six chapters provide interventions.  Judging from the title and the preface the reader expects a thorough analysis of bullying within the context of social groups--an analysis that would provide some insight into this insidious problem.  That is not provided.  Only one chapter is presented and does not add to the body of evidence on the topic.  This is not to suggest that the book is not useful.  It simply does not deliver on what appeared to be a fresh approach to understanding the nature of bullying.  A more thorough analysis of the research on aggression would have been beneficial.

The author does provide an appreciation of the serous nature of bullying and cites all the appropriate references on the topic, a stated goal to enable school psychologists and other mental health professionals to carry out programs in schools.  In order to do so, readers would need to consult the references provided by the author. They would not be able to do that based solely on the information provide in the book.  Moreover, it ignores the critical role of collaboration with the entire school staff.  The research is clear on this point: in order for bully proof programs to succeed, ALL school personnel need to be committed and involved, not just ancillary staff. The text does not address this fact.

There has been increased awareness and interest in bullying in schools.  And yet, schools are sorely lacking in their ability and/or willingness to develop and implement school-wide bully proof programs.  Bullying and Teasing addresses this gap by providing a well-written text outlining the major issues.  What was disappointing for this reviewer was the anticipation of a deeper, more insightful analysis that was never presented.  The title and preface promised more than was delivered.  And yet, we are not at the point where a basic book on bullying, which may be read by school personnel, should be dismissed.  It provides much of what is currently available, but not carried out in schools.  Hopefully, it will inspire the target population of readers to try some of the interventions in a collaborative manner.


© 2005 Barry McNamara


Dr. Barry McNamara is a 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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