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Preventing Bullying and School Violence

Stuart W. Twemlow, M.D., and Frank C. Sacco, Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-384-6
  • Item #62384

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Results from numerous surveys indicate that many students do not feel safe in school. This condition exacts an academic as well as a psychological toll because, as the authors remind us, children must feel safe in order to learn. The authors of Preventing Bullying and School Violence contend that inadequate attention has been given to the role of mental health professionals in preventing bullying and school violence. They propose a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, one that draws upon the skills of the educational, health care, and mental health communities in identifying risk, choosing appropriate interventions, and implementing targeted wellness programs. The authors see bullying as a process, not a problem originating with a single troubled person. Accordingly, they believe that bullying behaviors can be effectively addressed only by targeting the broader social context—the coercive power and group dynamics that breed and maintain bullying and violent behavior in the school setting.

The book is designed to help clinicians, school counselors, and administrators create a safe climate for their students and to respond thoughtfully, but swiftly, when threats arise. The authors offer many practical guidelines for achieving these goals, addressing

  • The critical importance of establishing a strong connection between the family, the school, and the community in creating a healthy academic environment
  • Strategies for working effectively with the complex social bureaucracies that often characterize the entities (such as school boards and governmental agencies) that intervene in cases involving violent children, with an emphasis on developing skills in managing both small and large groups
  • Ways to define and recognize at-risk children who require special attention as a result of having mental illness and/or learning disability
  • Innovative community interventions, such as therapeutic mentoring and home-based therapy, in addition to information on local, state, and federal programs designed to support antiviolence programs in the schools
  • Techniques for promoting wellness among the student population—not just physical wellness, but also the positive attitudes and coping skills that are the hallmarks of mental health.

Preventing Bullying and School Violence aims to empower mental health professionals to work confidently and effectively in educational settings to reduce the distress, enhance the psychological well-being, and secure the safety of all schoolchildren.


  • About the Authors
  • Foreword
  • Preface and Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Source Credits
  • Chapter 1. School Violence: Range and Complexity of the Problem
  • Chapter 2. The Family–School–Community Connection
  • Chapter 3. Providing Mental Health Consultation to Agencies Intervening With Violent Children
  • Chapter 4. Case Studies in School Violence: A Staging Paradigm
  • Chapter 5. Bullying Is a Process, Not a Person: Inviting the Community Into the School
  • Chapter 6. Children Need to Feel Safe to Learn
  • Chapter 7. Assessment of At-Risk Children
  • Chapter 8. Activating Community Resources Through Therapeutic Mentoring
  • Chapter 9. Role of Medical Leadership in Unlocking Resources to Address School Violence
  • Chapter 10. Risk and Threat Assessment of Violent Children
  • Chapter 11. Effortless Wellness and Other Afterthoughts
  • Index

About the Authors

Stuart W. Twemlow, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, and Senior Psychiatrist, The Menninger Clinic, Houston, Texas; Faculty Member, Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute, Houston, Texas; and Honorary Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Frank C. Sacco, Ph.D., is President of Community Services Institute in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts; and Adjunct Professor at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Twemlow and Sacco's important book takes a major step toward clarifying our understanding of the school violence that plagues our society and what can be done to reduce the harm. This work offers a readable, well crafted examination of the range and complexity of the problem, the interconnections among family-school-community, role of mental health and medical professionals. They also offer a number of critical elements to the solution, including: an understanding of the bullying process, role of the community, identifying at-risk children, therapeutic mentoring, the concept of wellness, and other pragmatic intervention strategies. The tone is authoritative and practical, but always with a nuanced understanding of this complex phenomenon. School administrators, teachers, mental health professionals, and all those interested in improving the safety of our schools and communities for children should read this book—and take it's lessons to heart.—B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D., Professor Psychology & Chair Division Social Sciences, Univ of Hawaii; Director Clinical Research, The Menninger Clinic; Adj Professor Psychiatry Baylor College of Med

Bully-victim behavior is a public health crisis. Twemlow and Sacco have long been two of the nation's leading bully prevention researchers and practitioners. This book is a must read for mental health professionals who are invested in being helpful and essential change agents in making our schools safer, more supportive and engaging and helpfully challenging: the foundation for school and life success. This is a wise and practically helpful guide!—Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., President, Natl School Climate Center: Educating Minds & Hearts Because the Three Rs are Not Enough; Adjunct Prof in Psychology & Education, Teachers College, Columbia Univ

Drs. Twemlow and Sacco have made an outstanding contribution to our appreciation of the phenomena of bullying and approaches to intervention. Their conceptualizations and practical applications for action will go a long way to improving the health and well-being of all children.—Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D., Harris Professor Child Psychiatry & Psychiatry, Director, National Center for Children Exposed Violence/Childhood Violent Trauma Center, Yale University School of Med

Twemlow and Sacco clearly and brilliantly address the crucial educational and social problems in schools today. Their truly interdisciplinary theoretical amalgam of psychiatric, psychological, sociological and philosophical data comes with practical case examples. This invaluable book shows how mental health professionals and schools can collaborate so as to systematically take the school climate beyond the illusory perpetrator-victim divide through understanding the crucial role of bystanders in what is in reality a triangular system. It further proposes the cultivation of mental attitudes and qualities that include mentalization and altruism, which will help promote a safe and secure school environment without bullying.—Douglas Kirsner, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalytic Studies, Deakin University, Melbourne

Twemlow and Sacco's engaging and easy to read book deals with the alarming problem of violence in our schools. Casting their net wide, the authors discuss not only school bullying but the role of compliciy bystanders and the potential amelioration of the attendant crises via a system based approach. Deftly blending psychoanalytivc insights on mentalization and altruism with informed social activism, Twemlow and Sacco offer us a treatise of solid theoretical foundations , great practical value, and deeply felt humanitarian values!—Salman Akhtar, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

This brilliant, socially responsible book is a prescription for saving our youth—and their families. Twemlow and Sacco, dedicated pioneers in experience-based applications of a sound psychodynamic understanding of the triadic social scourge: bully victim passive bystander(s), address communal constructive strategies for rational, readily applicable solutions to prevent the misery it creates. This book is a must for all of us, all those responsible for the family, the school, the neighborhood—a must for government, for society. One of the most important books for today!—Henri Parens, M.D., Professor Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson Univ; Training & Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Ctr Philadelphia; Former Director Early Child Develop Program, EPPI/MCP

This is truly an impressive book with a pragmatic focus that aims to provide the reader with a conceptual framework to address the daunting problems of school violence and bullying. It offers an in-depth perspective on the topic, which will be of value to all mental health clinicians involved in school consultations. Each chapter is replete with complex case examples that ring true as actual cases with which those of us involved in this field often struggle. Preventing Bullying and School Violence is an important book on a compelling topic. The authors provide a masterful approach and set the standard for thoughtful psychiatric consultation on the pervasive problem of violence in our schools.—Deborah M. Weisbrot, M.D., The American Journal of Psychiatry, 6/1/2012

Preventing Bullying and School Violence delivers concise, well-organized, and hands-on guidance for professional dealing with school violence and bullying.—Robert Horst, MD, University of California School of Medicine, Sacramento

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