Hot Buttons: Bullying Addition, by Nicole O’Dell
[This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]
To be honest, this book was not an easy one to read. It was, in fact, deeply painful for me to examine the early start of bullying from peers in my life (which started at the age of five) as well as the long lasting nature of bullying for me (it is something that I continue to have to deal with). My bullying experiences have been varied, embarrassing, have caused a great deal of distress, and have caused great harm. Likewise, I am not the ideal reader for this book, which is targeted at teens and parents of children and teens. Nevertheless, since the dynamics of bullying are fairly consistent across age groups, this is not necessarily a huge failing, and those who are a part of the targeted audience of this book should appreciate the well-organized and thoughtful and Christian approach taken by the author.
There are some features of this book that are shared to the series of Hot Button books in general, and will be noted here as this is the first book of the series that I have read. The first section deals with the questions of why, when, and how the hot button issue exists. The second section deals with identifying the elements of the problem. The third section deals with protection, the armor of God, and scenarios. The fourth section looks at a parent-teen study guide designed to help both parents and teens wrestle with the issue discussed in the book. After this come some recommended resources for people dealing with the problem, along with notes and some words about the author. Those who are familiar with the structure of the Hot Buttons book will probably appreciate the structure of this book and others in the series.
Concerning the contents of this book, the approach taken to this book is pretty blunt and hard-hitting, pointing out that bullying is an issue for a variety of reasons, that it should be dealt with proactively rather than reactively, that it can have serious repercussions, leading to self-harm or even suicide. The book is short but direct, and also very focused on providing practical steps on what to do if one’s child is bullied or the bully. In its detail, its seriousness, and its evenhandedness, this book manages to present a great deal of insight into why bullying happens, who is most likely to do it (either “cool kids” or “dark loners”) and what kind of kids are most likely to be bullied: those who are nonviolent, respectful of others, intelligent, often verbal, with a strong sense of fairness. Does that sound like anyone you know? Of course, people who are quirky and different are often made fun of mercilessly as well. This does not stop when one is an adult, unfortunately, either.
Also of great interest to readers is the way in which this book details the importance of listening, of patience, of honest and open communication, and of genuine friendship as opposed to the desire to form or be a part of cliques. It is important to understand the pressures that all of us feel to be loved, to be respected, and to be accepted, and also to note the higher concern should be working on being kind to all we come across, and dealing with the difficulties of our life that we face (including bullying) in as honorable and as decent a matter as possible, neither lashing out at others nor taking our anger entirely into ourselves. This is a book that ought to be read and pondered on by Christians looking for a guide on dealing with bullying, either for themselves or their children, and a book that is valid for more than its target audience of teens and their parents.