Book Reviews Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies by Jay Mcgraw

Jay McGraw, son of acclaimed T.V. personality Phil McGraw, speaks authoritatively to middle and high school students in his book Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies. McGraw’s book is a 2008 Alladin publication which includes illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator Steve Bjrkman. The ISBN number is 978-1-4169-7473-4; the book sells for $17.99 in the United States and $19.99 in Canada.

I used Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies as a read aloud for my late elementary school students in our school library. I started it toward the end of one school year, and we didn’t get to finish it. I wondered how important the subject matter was to the students, so I took a vote on whether to finish the book in the next school year. The students voted “yes” to finish the book.

McGraw begins by identifying bully behavior and he encourages students to examine their own behavior for traits of bullying. He talks about posturing yourself to stand up against a bully and emphasizes that the bully is one with the problem.

McGraw confronts the issue of “bullying” with boldness and a very serious tone that is assertive.  The book equips students with specific strategies for dealing with bullies they encounter.

McGraw emphasizes that there are “no innocent bystanders” when it comes to bullying. He challenges students to take action when they see someone being bullied. He emphasizes that if they do not help a victim, that they are facilitating the bully to continue his abuse. He cites examples of how students have stood up to bullies and made a difference.

The book includes journaling exercises and anti-bullying pledges for students, parents and school administration. It challenges everyone to get involved and effect change.

The book is very up to date and deals with modern bullying tactics such as texting and internet bullying. He brings to light the damage that can be done through slander, verbal abuse, or sharing hurtful information in chat rooms or on social websites.

McGraw gives student readers insights into how to broach the issue of bullying in conversations with their parents or how to get school personnel to assist them in bridging the gap between themselves and their parents in discussing issues related to bullying.

McGraw’s book could be used very effectively as an “all school read” for faculty and students in middle and high school. The book would equip everyone in the school with a tool to combat bullying and make their school a safer environment for everyone.

The last chapter of the book is entitled, “Forgiving a Bully”. After concluding the chapter, one of my students said, “That was the best chapter of all”. I highly recommend that you read this very important book!