Using a book to prevent bullying

Bullying thrives in darkness. Because this is true, the simple power of shedding light can be transforming.

Raising awareness, building empathy, engaging students in positive action: these are goals that schools have set, and achieved, in using The Revealers as a springboard toward bullying prevention and long-term culture change. In his talks at schools, student leadership conferences, and other settings, author Doug Wilhelm has taken to calling these initiatives "Positive Power."

"You're supposed to find your power," he often tells middle schoolers. "Your power is what you're good at, what you want to do and how you can succeed in the world. If you're good at sports, at computers, at writing, at making friends and leading people, then that's part of your power right now. But you're responsible for how you use your power — and the choices you make about that will be with you for the rest of your life."

To build working with a book like this into a comprehensive bullying-prevention initiative, consider building on the remarkable power of storytelling (see bullying stories). When students are inspired and empowered by the discussion of a realistic novel to share their own stories, the impacts can make everyone involved in the project newly aware of what bullying is and how it can feel.

One key is to make this sharing safe for kids, who will wisely be wary of creating more danger for themselves. Consider asking students to fictionalize their experiences (see "A creative springboard to students' own productions"), and/or creating an online forum to make storytelling safer ("Using the story to help kids learn the power of online courage — and cruelty").

Here are briefings on many successful bullying prevention initiatives: