After finishing the manuscript of No Place for Bullying, all I could think was “Where was this book when I needed it?"
The time when I needed this book most was from 2009-2011, when I served as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for Safe and Drug-Free Schools and led the Obama Administration’s anti-bullying initiative. Numerous high-profile “bullycides” (suicides apparently linked to bullying) had created a fever pitch around the issue of bullying. Nearly-panicked school officials often turned to us at the Education Department and implored us to give them a simple program they could use to make sure their schools were safe places. The pressure was on. Kids lives were at stake and people wanted answers.
by Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for Safe and Drug-Free Schools
"Effective bullying prevention is not just instituting a program in a school. It will require educators to significantly change the culture of most schools."
Sadly, I knew I could not give them what they wanted. The pressure to, as James Dillon puts it, “jump to solutions” when it comes to bullying is immense: everyone in the field of education cares deeply about the well-being of young people and wants to do their utmost to protect them. But I knew from experience that there was no “easy fix” to the problem of bullying, that instead bullying prevention had to be part of a larger effort to examine and reform school cultures so that treating others with respect became a norm. As one of my graduate school mentors, the brilliant Linda Darling-Hammond, puts it, “Change is a process, not an event.” There was no easy guide to help educators understand how to undertake such a process of change, however, so I felt at a loss as to what to tell these well-intentioned folks.
Well, now there is. And you’re holding it in your hands.
No Place for Bullying is the most sensible guide I have yet read as to how to “bully proof” your school. While useful for any reader, I believe it will be most helpful for administrators who are seeking to drive a process of change in their building or district on the subject of bullying. James Dillon walks school leaders through the process of leading change, using his own experience as principal himself as a guide, and offers easy-to-use tools such as training exercises to help school leaders develop their own change initiatives. Grounded in the real world of schools, No Place for Bullying offers the best guide I’ve yet found on how to actually change your school culture and make respect the “fourth R” taught in your school – and one just as fundamental as reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.
That this book offers practical, useful advice did not come as a surprise to me. In my second month in the Obama Administration, the horrific beating of a student on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois captured the media’s attention and put pressure on us at the Education Department for specific programs that addressed bullying on school buses. In my search for such programs I came upon Mr. Dillon’s earlier book, The Peaceful School Bus, which offered practical advice for school leaders on how to make sure their buses were safe places. We brought the Peaceful School Bus program to the attention of educators across the nation and innumerable ones adopted it, testifying to its usefulness and practicality. I knew I’d found in James Dillon someone who – unlike so many education “experts,” who have never actually worked in a school – knew how schools really worked and had the practical wisdom needed to devise programs that would actually create meaningful change.
With No Place for Bullying, James Dillon continues his track record of offering schools his unique brand of practical wisdom. He also challenges us with the statement that “When it comes to bullying prevention, no one is to blame and everyone is responsible.” In the past, even well-meaning school officials could rightfully say there was no guidebook as to how to create a school where bullying was minimized. With the publication of No Place for Bullying, that guide now exists. I urge you to read No Place for Bullying closely: each page offers advice that you can put to work when you come back to school tomorrow morning. And remember -- it’s your responsibility to do so. Kids lives depend on it.
-Author James Dillon
No Place for Bullying