How to Deal with Bullies – Bullying Decoded #Bullying

In 2003, my son Abel was in Grade 1 and we were living in France. The Iraq war had just started, and our 3 kids were the only Americans in their school. Overall this wasn’t a problem, but one day Abel came home from school upset and told us that an Arab boy, a 12 year old in 6th grade, had hit him. “He asked me if I was American and when I said yes, he said he didn’t like Americans and he hit me,” Abel sobbed.

We dealt with it on our own. First we prayed about it as a family. We’d previously lived in an Arab country, and we told Abel to greet the boy in Arabic and explain that all Americans weren’t like the ones shown on Al-Jazeera. It worked. The boy quit bugging Abel and became instead his sort of protector. But that wasn’t the last of it for Abel. Years later, when Abel was in Grade 7, we again dealt with the same issue—Abel getting bullied by bigger kids.

Abel is a really sweet kid, although a bit young for his age, which is unfortunately the type of kid that seems to attract the attention of bullies. This time, his older brother saw what was happening and put an end to it for that day at least. “How long has this been going on?” we asked Abel. “Pretty much all year,” he told us. This time, I went in and talked to the vice-principal, who dealt with things decisively. But the following year, when Abel was in a new school, there were a few incidents again.

What do you do when your kid is bullied in school or online? When is it good to get involved, and how much does the kid need to learn to stand up to situations on his own? These are hard, heart-breaking questions. Or, are you dealing with a bully yourself, maybe someone in your neighbourhood (at bunco night) or at the office? After all, bullying doesn’t just happen in junior high.

Ed Kaspar, author of Bullying Decoded: The Economics of Abuse, takes a humorous but hard-hitting approach to the problem of bullying. His book is unusual in many ways, but it confronts head-on the issue of how to deal with bullies. Decrying political correctness and hand-wringing, he instead counsels victims on how to cope with emotional and physical abuse.

Kaspar points out the difference between whiners and real victims of bullying. He posits questions designed to show you where you fall on the scale of bullying, recognizing that it’s a lot more noticeable when we are receiving rather than giving abuse. (And they’re very funny, unexpected questions). The book is written as if it were a serious treatise, but throughout the book he calls bullies a’holes (I’m quoting him exactly; he doesn’t spell it out) and his examples will make you laugh—except when he explains the reason he wrote the book, a girl in his school who committed suicide. His style is somewhat brusque, but he makes really good points. I’m having Abel read this book; I think this will give him some good tools for any future trouble.

I want to explain that although Bullying Decoded isn’t what I was expecting at all, I enjoyed his refreshing no-nonsense approach, and I think he makes some really good points:

  • explaining what bullying is and its causes
  • pointing out what is bullying and what isn’t
  • giving good tips on how best to deal with bullies.

I recommend this book. I think it’d be helpful for anyone, but I feel its unusual approach would be ideal for teens and tweens who are dealing with this issue—the style might make them giggle a bit, but the message comes through loud and clear.

And so, I’m delighted to tell you that we’re giving away a copy of Bullying Decoded: The Economics of Abuse. Please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter. New to Rafflecopter? Watch this 45-second video on how to enter! We’ll announce the winner on 7/22 in our Around the Blogosphere column. US mailing addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elizabeth has very little sympathy for bullies, although she recognizes that sometimes, what’s needed is a bit of education. Learn more about her and her family at her blog Planet Nomad. If you want to read a post about bullying, click here.


  1. says

    I watch my eldest dd deal with ms bullying then hs very heartbreaking among girls but she just went past it and became stronger. My md was in a group of 5 girls that bullied and were bullied each other they graduated this year and they actually realized they would miss each other and they were actually best toxic friends. (but friends like this don’t last long when you find nicer ones). My yd she is friends with every one and sticks up for the under dogs and speaks up if she has too. I have watched each one and learned myself they have to learn to deal with I just have to help them with their skills. We all need to learn these for every situation. But if the child knows who they are they are fine.

  2. says

    My son was homeschooled until last year, when he started 7th grade in a private school. We have had to deal with some bullying issues/ name calling. My mama bear side reared up wanting to protect him. I just don’t know what to do yet, besides praying with him, for him, and giving him some good verbal responses.

  3. says

    I don’t know what is wrong with kids these days. I feel that the world has gotten itself into a funk and can’t quite shake it. An individual understands that all it takes is one person to say, “Enough is Enough.” Unfortunately, not one person wants to budge. I also feel that children are continuously victimized across the world because their parents need to be educated on tolerance and lift the blinders of ignorance from their eyes. I feel for kids that jst want to have friends and can’t seem to be let alone by the “bully” that haunts them.

  4. Stephanie Hungerford says

    I was bullied in Junior High and it even went as far as to physical violence. My mom and I tried confronting the girl with her parents and the parents told us that they didn’t raise a sissy so if she wants to pick on your child that is fine by us. In this case we got the school involved because they had already seen what can happen if I get cornered in a fight situation. She was suspended because I had bruises. I wasn’t a fighter but when I was attacked multiple times by a girl in my gym class. I finally turned around and fought back she was left with a permanent injury. Since there were multiple teachers who witnessed the build up to the fight and the fight occurred right out side the school office where there was a camera it was proven that I didn’t through the first or second punch. But I did throw the 3rd punch and then ran away. Before my attacker jumped on me. Well she ended up badly injured, and suspended. I was so upset they excused me from school the rest of the day and called my mother. I didn’t get in trouble because a lot of the blame was on the staff that had seen her hit me and push me multiple times and done nothing

  5. Carolyn says

    I remember dealing with bullying as a child and struggle with how to best support my students and children.

  6. June says

    So many stories of being bullied, when my children were younger there was a student at their school that took his own life because he had been picked on so much. This really needs to STOP.

  7. Tia says

    One of my son’s has witnessed someone being observed so we spent a lot of time discussing what he could of done, things he could’ve said, etc.

  8. Jaclyn Reynolds says

    I was bullied and so was my son. We are homeschooling and it’s nice to be bully free. Would love to read this book!

  9. Shannon Baas says

    I did as a kid. What made me mad is the school knew it was happening and didn’t do anything about it.

  10. Nicolle Olores says

    There are so many kinds of kids in the school and mostly they are students that keep on bullying other students. As a Mom we have to be aware of this.

  11. Garrett says

    No child should have to go through this, I’m sure this book helps many to understand that this should not happen.

  12. says

    It’s truely painful to hear the stories around bullying. No one should have to go through this, hopefully us talking about it more it will happen less often. Thanks for offering such a great giveaway, this would definitely help our son. Good luck everyone!

  13. says

    While my kids haven’t really encountered bullying, it is one of my big worries for them. Bullying seems to be getting more prevalent and more serious. I would like to be on the proactive side rather than the reactive when it comes to this issue!

  14. Hannah N says

    I dealt with bullying for my entire childhood… Teasing about my weight led to anorexia… I lost 70+ pound and spent weeks in the hospital… I wish I had handled it better.

  15. Stephanie MacDonald says

    I have dealt with bullies. We went to the school, they didn’t do anything, then the school board, still nothing was done. It just got worse and worse so we went to the police and he was removed from my school.

  16. Angela E. says

    I never had to deal with this happening to me, but I always gave my mind to anyone that bullied someone at school.

  17. laurie brown says

    we have had to deal with it some,she will start HS this year and I am very nervous about that…

  18. Angela Neynaber says

    I never had to deal with extreme bulling. When I was younger we just ignored the mean comments. However, these days kids seem to be more mean and more peristant. I want to make sure that I know all I can to protect my four young children!

  19. wendy wallach says

    my daughter was bullied in school and i wound up pulling her out and enrolling her in a private school instead

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  20. Melissa Shirley says

    Yes, My son is very small for his age of 14 and he is special needs and has a hard time with socialization. He has trouble with kids picking on him. I found out last year that kids were throwing french fries at him at the lunch table and adults that were around in the lunch room did nothing about it. they seem to want to point the finger at my son who has a lack of social skills. Also if he tells on another student they complain that he is a tattle tale. It really ticks me off when i tell him to let an adult know and they do nothing but make him feel like he is doing something wrong.

  21. brenda Elsner says

    I have a boy in high school and one in middle school. My oldest one is called names alot and feels very hurt at times. This book could maybe help us deal with some of the issues he is having.

  22. heather c says

    My child has. I tried bringing it to the administration, but ‘that doesn’t happen here.’ Horrible. It never does.

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