Confessions of a former bully

Review by Elise McGregor, Carmel College

Trudy Ludwig (2012), Random House, US

Bullying. To hurt or frighten someone, using power as an advantage. Bullying is a very common issue all over the world. Confessions of a Former Bully highlights that 160,000 kids miss school every day because of bullying. Many helpful books have emerged full of ideas and advice on how to cope with bullying, but Confessions of a Former Bully is unique because it tells the story of someone who has bullied other people and what they have learnt.

The first thing this book talks about is what bullying actually is. Children (and adults) reading the book immediately see what bullying looks like, which is really powerful because it helps the reader identify the issue and relate it to the rest of the book.

One thing I especially like is Mrs Petowoski’s ‘think about it’ and ‘quick fact’ cards. The ‘think about it’ cards have quotes like “Be the change you want to see in the world” and “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I think these are very empowering quotes about the importance of being an active upstander and I think it was very clever of the author to include these in the book. The quick fact cards are also very effective as they show facts and statistics about bullying.

Another meaningful part of the book is the ‘empower tools’. This section offers practical ideas for dealing with bullying, such as walking away, saying stop and changing the subject. Adding to this is the way that the author makes sure to look at bullying from different perspectives. This helps readers understand how bullying behaviour affects not only those who are on the receiving end, but also the person doing the bullying and those who see it happening. The dynamics and writing techniques are compelling for all types of readers.

Confessions of a Former Bully is an empowering and motivational book which spreads the message of bullying prevention to all types of people. I would highly recommend it, especially for people aged 6-10 years, but I think teens and young adults would benefit from reading it as well. Finally, I would like to thank the author for helping to spread the message of bullying prevention.

The world will be destroyed not by those who do evil,
but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Albert Einstein

The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service brings you reviews this Pink Shirt Day on books with bullying prevention themes.

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“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”