Jennifer Hancock’s book “The Bully Vaccine” is available for FREE on Kindle today and tomorrow. Jen wrote a happiness guide for teens and young adults called “The Humanist Approach to Happiness“, which offers advice from a secular humanist’s perspective.
The Bully Vaccine gives recommendations for kids on how to prevent bullying through behavioral changes. I briefly interviewed Jen about her book and her approach to bullying…
What made you decide to write about the subject of bullying?
I wrote the book because I know I had good advice to give to young kids just starting to get bullied. My mom had taught me how to deal with it successfully as a kid so I was never really bullied as a result – give that I had a deformed jaw as a child, that’s a huge deal. The problem was, I wasn’t sure I had anything to offer kids coping with chronic bullying. And then I realized, I was a victim of a stalking and that’s actually really similar to what happens to kids who are being chronically bullied. So, I realized that I did in fact have something substantial to offer them and I realized, I really needed to write the book so that these kids who are suffering can get real help.
Do you think parents should intervene when their child is bullied?
Yes, parents should get involved when their child is bullied. What exactly they should do depends on what is happening. At the very least, they need to proactively teach their child the skills they need to cope with bullies. We don’t expect our kids to learn how to swim without instruction anymore. Same thing with bullies, they need to be explicitly taught how to cope. If your child is being assaulted or battered as a result of a bullying, you need to speak up on their behalf and keep speaking up. Kids learn more from your example then they do your words. They need to see you reporting what’s happening. This will help give them the courage they need to report what’s happening and to keep reporting it.
Some people say that the best way to defend against bullies is to be aggressive, others say to use reason or humor. Do your suggestions fall within that spectrum or are they more outside of the box?
As any good scientifically minded parent would – I teach operant conditioning techniques to deal with bullying. And don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. But basically, what I teach is how to train your bully not to bully you. It’s proactive, compassionate, geeky and empowering all at the same time and yes, it really does work. Humans are WAY easier to train than cats.
Bullying has changed in the era of facebook and twitter. Does your book’s recommendations cover cyber-bullying?
I do touch on cyber bullying, but not as something separate. I just give advice on how to use the operant conditioning techniques in the cyber environment.
Does “The Bully Vaccine” use humanist principles and ideas, or does this book not really focus on your secular views?
The book is implicitly Humanist – because that’s how I approach everything. And certainly my encouragement to find compassion for bullies is extremely Humanistic. But it is not explicitly about Humanism. It falls more into the category of Humanistic Parenting if anything. But the book was made to be accessible to anyone except extremely religious parents who won’t like what I have to say about religious or sexual bullying. Everyone else though, will get a lot out of it.
Thanks to Jen Hancock for the answers!