Books against bullying
Podcast #47 — Aired November 13, 2014

How do you talk to your kids about bullies and friendship issues? This week on BetterWorldians Radio we’re discussing the how to teach our children about dealing with bullies and how be a good friend. Our guest is children’s book author Trudy Ludwig. Trudy will discuss her wonderful books, including The Invisible Boy and My Secret Bully, and how parents can help their kids navigate the sometimes confusing world of children’s social interactions.

 

 

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Trudy Ludwig
Children's book author, My Secret Bully

Trudy Ludwig is an award-winning author who specializes in writing children's books that explore the colorful and sometimes confusing world of children's social interactions. She has received rave reviews nationwide from educators, experts, organizations, and parents for her passion and compassion in addressing relational aggression – the use of relationships to manipulate and hurt others. Trudy wrote her first book, My Secret Bully, after her own daughter was bullied by some friends. Since then, she has become a sought-after speaker, presenting at schools and conferences around the country and educating students, parents, and teachers on the topic. Trudy is a member of the International Bullying Prevention Association.

 

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
On this weeks episode of BetterWorldians Radio we are talking with childrens book author Trudy Ludwig. Trudy is an award winning author whose specializes in writing childrens books that explore the colorful and sometimes confusing world of childrens social interactions. She has received rave reviews nationwide from educators, experts, organizations and parents for her passion and compassion in addressing relational aggression. The use of relationships to manipulate and hurt others. Trudy wrote her first book My Secret Bully after her own daughter was bullied by some friends. Since then she has become a sought after speaker, presenting in schools and conferences around the country and educating students, parents, and teachers on this very subject. Trudy is a member of the International Bullying Prevention Association. Trudy, its really a pleasure to have you join us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Welcome aboard.

Trudy Ludwig
Thank you so much, it is a pleasure to be here.

Raymond Hansell
You know we all read your book, so youll hear from each of us in the next segments coming up about each of these books that you have done. Id like to start with your first book which is called My Secret Bully. How did you feel when your daughter first told you that she was being bullied at school? Can you tell us about that?

Trudy Ludwig
Yes I sure can. We parents are momma bears and papa bears with our kids. They are our little cubs. Our claws tend to come out. So, honestly my first inclination was that I wanted to ring those girls sweet little necks. But I realized that was not the rational, mature thing to do. What ran through my head at the time was the question that kept going through my head, was what do you do when the kids who are bullying your kids are their so called friends and you are friends with the kids parents? That made me stop in my tracks and really think about what I needed to do. I really wanted to give my daughter some tools or skills to help her deal with this because the reality is, we are not going to get rid of all the hurt in the world but I wanted to raise an emotionally resilient child and help her respond without being hurtful back to other people intentionally. That started my journey when she was being bullied to look for resources.

Raymond Hansell
In looking at these resources, what did you come up with? What kinds of books and/or resources did you actually find on the subject?

Trudy Ludwig
Well the interesting thing is, at the time it happened, this is about, oh my gosh, it is probably about 12 years ago when this happened. When my daughter was with friends that shes known since kindergarten. They were having issues that were going on but it imploded during the first week of second grade when she was seven years old. At that time, Rachel Simmons came out with the New York Times best-seller Odd Girl Out. That was when Oprah Winfrey still had the Oprah show and she was on the show doing the media circuit across the country. A friend of mine who knew that my daughter was a target of this form of aggression called relational aggression. That means using relationships to manipulate and hurt others. She informed me that there was a book written by Rachel Simmons about this very issue, and I read the book and had that aha moment and understood now, okay this is emotional bullying hidden within friendships. I had the fortune of hearing Rachel Simmons talk. She came here to Portland, Oregon and spoke to an audience of about 400 people. Adults, caring professionals, administrators, counseling practitioners, and parents who were trying to get a grasp on this type of aggression. I actually heard her speak about this and what I found out when we were listening to her is that this form of aggression is evident as early as preschool and it appears to peak in middle school. I remember one dad in the audience, a father of a seven year old, asking Rachel Simmons, Can you give us a blueprint, something to help us help our kids? Literally you could hear crickets going on in the audience. The dead silence. Thats when I realized, you know what, there is no resource at a younger age and I felt very strongly that there were resources. Perhaps it wouldnt be as prevalent by middle school if we address this at a younger age. That led me in the journey, with Rachel Simmons book. Then the organization that sponsored her to come to Portland, Oregon at the time, I contacted the founder of the organization to find out if they had any resources at a younger age and she said no. I just started to write. I wanted to write a story and the characters started talking to me.

Raymond Hansell
So you were compelled from that position. It is not there and you felt compelled to put it out there in the form of this book called My Secret Bully. For our listeners, it is an amazingly beautiful book. Its very well done in every aspect, especially what you wrote in the book. The storyline and the beautiful illustrations as well.

Trudy Ludwig
Thank you.

Raymond Hansell
You are very welcome. How do you define bullying?

Trudy Ludwig
That is a good question. This is a really important word to understand, because bullying has become such a hot buzz word in our culture and in our media lately that I find it tends to be overused and misused. Researchers and lawyers, they define bullying as having three key elements. An intent to harm, a power and balance, and also repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior. But when youre talking to kids about power and balance, what does that mean to them? It's a very lofty concept for them to understand. So, what I am trying to do when I travel around schools across the country, is to find out whats working in schools and whats not when they are addressing bullying in the schools. Because, frankly, there are a lot of bullying prevention programs that dont work. They are not working because they are not addressing bullying in a consistent manner from classroom to classroom and the hallways and buses and cafeteria and on the playground in particular, especially with the elementary schools. So, I actually really love the definitions that were provided by this school that I visited in Racine, Wisconsin. How they define bullying is by explaining to kids what bullying is and what it isnt, which is a really important thing, because as I tell kids and adults, not all hurtful behavior is bullying. This one school, how they define it, they talked about different tiers of hurtful behavior. So, they talk about, is it rude, is it mean, is it bullying? They define rude as when someone says something or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once. That is rude. It is one of those oops, did I just say that out loud? kind of moments. You know where we dont think before we speak that kids do and unfortunately adults do as well. That is being rude, that is not bullying. When someones mean, that is when they are saying something or doing something intentionally hurtful and just doing it once. That is mean. But when its bullying, that is when someone says something or does something intentionally hurtful. You show youre mad, sad, or scared. You tell that person to stop and they keep on doing it, thats when you know that hurtful behavior has crossed the line into bullying. Thats the power and balance. I also like Barbara Coloroso has a wonderful book. Shes a therapist and does a lot of work in bullying and bullying prevention. In her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, she defines bullying as a lack of arrogance or contempt. It is basically, you know your feelings are not worth my consideration. I do believe that the whole bullying business can be broken down into terms of empathy and a lack of it. Which leads me to have to tell you about empathy, because I hear often when I hear the definition of empathy I hear, its what it feels like to be in someone elses shoes. With relational aggression, using relationships to manipulate and hurt others, it actually -- there are kids who are very popular that have high levels of empathy when you take it to that definition, knowing what it feels like to be in someone elses shoes so they know how to hurt people because they know how to go after their social jugular. What I want to do is extend the definition of empathy. It is what it feels like to be in someone elses shoes AND feeling compassion for anothers pain and suffering. I think thats a very important piece of empathy.

Raymond Hansell
Now, you chose to write these books and tell these stories. What role do you feel that these books and stories are having in helping children develop social skills and the empathy they need to deal with this subject?

Trudy Ludwig
That is a big question with a long answer. I will try to be as brief as possible. I think books provide a safe social setting for kids to explore other characters thoughts and feelings. When I talk to adults and I give presentations, I explain that authors are not just writers, were bridge builders. We build bridges to connect readers to our characters, to the characters thoughts, feelings, and actions, to the story itself and also to connect with other readers. Its a lot easier dealing with tough social issues in a story, because its not focusing on the child and their issues, it is focusing on a character. It is a safe way to deal with a complex problem and try on the way those characters responded to that situation, whether its good or bad. How it plays out in a safe way. I actually do biblio-therapy sessions with teachers in schools. Where I show how books can be used to foster empathy in perspective. Because empathy can be taught and books are really wonderful supplemental tools to help foster empathy in perspective in kids.

Raymond Hansell
For our listeners, what are some of the other topics that you deal with in your stories besides bullying?

Trudy Ludwig
Well, I deal with friendship issues that are not necessarily issues, but friendships. What makes a friend a good friend? A give and take, and working things out. I also want kids to understand. I think when they are very young, they think in polarities. They think you are either my friend or my enemy. I want kids to understand that there are different levels of friendship and while we may not agree and we may not be bosom buddies, we still have some commonality and we can be civil to each other. I also address perfectionism. That is dealing with kids who feel that the only way they can get our parents approval and love is through performance. Which is, I am hearing in schools, has become quite a big problem of the kids. They are feeling very stressed and anxious because they feel like they have to constantly do better. There is all this pressure on achievement test scores for teachers to teach the kids and the kids feel the stress. I also deal with one of my pet peeves, actually, when I write my stories. I will tell you two reasons why I write my stories. One, I used to share my office with my two kids and my husband. One day my daughter had a friend visiting and they were in my office and her friend was looking at the books that I wrote. I heard her friend say, wow your mom writes all these books, how cool!. I heard my daughter grumble to her friend saying, Yeah well you dont want to piss off my mom because shes going to write a book about it. so when I get angry about an issue I channel my anger in a creative way. That is how I choose to do it, to address those issues. So when I go into schools and see this type of behavior it makes me angry and I want to figure out how I can help kids deal with this. One of my pet peeves and one of the mistakes I often made as a parent, because its also why I write my books so that I can learn from my mistakes, is an insincere apology. That is another issue I deal with, because I feel that we adults are teaching our kids to lie when we force them to say sorry when they dont mean it. I researched those issues and learn that actually an insincere apology is worse than no apology at all. I wanted to deal with insincere apologies and how its more important to get kids to show theyre sorry rather than just to say they're sorry. My other books deal with social exclusion; intentional and unintentional. That is with The Invisible Boy. Bragging, a sense of better than you attitude. Those are some of the other issues.

Raymond Hansell
Well be getting more into The Invisible Boy, which I also loved very much as well. I thought it was very clever and well done in taking it a different position on the different issues. Well have more on that in our upcoming episode. But right now were going to take a break and when we come back Trudy Ludwig and my cohost MarySue will talk about some more of these other amazing books that Trudys already written and some of the stories that have come out of those books that in her engagements and speaking with students at schools and other parents as well. In the meantime I would like to offer this challenge to our listeners. If you know someone whose acts, no matter how small, are making a difference in the lives of other people, wed love to hear about them. Send us an e-mail at radio@betterworldians.com. Well be right back.

Gregory Hansell
Youre listening to BetterWorldians Radio. Were speaking with childrens book author Trudy Ludwig. Now, lets welcome back Trudy and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi Trudy!

Trudy Ludwig
Hi there how are you?

MarySue Hansell
Great. Great to speak with you today. I love those books. You know I notice that your book Confessions of a Former Bully picks up where the first book, My Secret Bully left off. Why did you choose to write a sequel from the perspective of a bullying child?

Trudy Ludwig
Well, it was really interesting. I had kids and actually their parents say to me, after I read this story and I presented the story in schools, I had them come up to me after the assemblies and say to me, whatever happened, did they become friends again? because kids want to know that they worked things out right? But life isnt always that tidy. I thought, I think I need to follow up so that kids can see what happens. The other thing I wanted to do is help schools that cant have me come to their school for whatever reason. It is hard for me to reach those schools. I wanted to take the crux of my presentations that I do when I present at schools in a book to give the kids tools because I role-play in my assemblies. I role-play these power tools to help give kids some resiliency skills and techniques; life-skills. To respond when somebodys being hurtful and they dont have to be hurtful back and helping them to understand the difference between tattling and reporting and other issues as well. So, I decided that the child that was bullying Monica, the protagonist in the story, really needed to have her voice. I also found that when I would research about children in books dealing with bullying, there were very few. I only found one or two books out of all the books that are dealing with bullying and there are plenty of them out there. Really, none of them, most of them did not deal with bullying from the kid whos doing the bullying perspective. I really wanted to give that person a voice and I didnt want to demonize the kid, because what Ive learned in my research and collaborating with experts, is that no child is born mean. They learn it. They can learn it at home or at school or in their neighborhood. So what would be that best interest to get that child to change, to un-learn those antisocial behaviors? So thats when I started letting the character, Katy, who was the child that was bullying and hurting intentionally Monica and other kids. Giving her a voice and putting her on a journey to learn what makes a friend a good friend.

MarySue Hansell
I really enjoyed that and loved those awesome empowerment tools. Would you share a few of them for our listeners?

Trudy Ludwig
Oh sure. What I do, its really fun actually, because those are the tools I use when I role-play with kids. I actually ask the teachers to pick kids to come up front in assembly to insult me. I have been insulted by some of the best over the years, let me tell you. The good thing is, is what I am trying to do is I show -- I explain to them I want you to say something hurtful to me. You can make fun of my face, my wrinkles, my hair, my clothes. No bad words, no swear words, no making fun of my skin color or race. Allow me to respond and see if you can still say something hurtful to me after I say or do something. I let them know I promise it wont be hurtful back. So we go through that role. So what I do is I start with the younger kids. I give them a starter set of tools. It is usually six tools. Then I add more tools. I explain to the kids, these tools wont stop all hurtful behaviors, especially bullying, and they wont stop kids from hurting other kids but they will help you to try and get away quickly and safely with your dignity intact, and if the kid continues to be hurtful, thats when you know its bullying and you need to get adults to support you and help you, and to also help the kid thats bullying. Ill just give one example if somebody insulted me and said that Im fat. Ill use that same excuse. Youre fat. The first life skill tool we want every child to have when theyre young is to have boundaries, right? So you tell them, stop its not okay. With each tool I do a physical movement, because it helps the kids to remember. We repeat and chant the tools as we learn more tools. Thats a stop. Thats not okay. What kids are telling us in these surveys across the United States is as kids get older, that stop tool is less effective. Direct confrontation may not help and can make it worse. But it is important for kids to know to have boundaries because if someones being rude and you tell them to stop, theyll not only stop, but usually will also apologize because their intent wasnt to be hurtful. If they are mean, theyll stop. But if someone is bullying and you tell them to stop and they dont, thats how you tell its bullying and you need help because its a power and balance. The next tool, youre fat. Why do you think Im fat? Because you eat too much. Why do you think I eat too much? Because youre a pig? And the kid just says oh forget it, they get so distracted. That took is the why, why, why tool. Just keep asking why calmly. The next tool. For younger kids, get away if you can. I have seen more kids when somebody says something hurtful on the playground, especially young kids, they stand there as if their feet are glued to the ground. I tell them you do not have to stand there and take it. If you can, get away. Its not the same thing as ignore. I dont recommend the ignore tool. Especially when its bullying, because what usually happens is the kid will be even crueler to try to get a reaction from you. So, when you try to get away you are trying to physically remove yourself from that hurtful situation. Another tool would be, youre fat. So. Well you really are. Well, whatever. Youre really a pig. Who cares? Its a so, whatever, who cares. I explain to the kids, when someones being hurtful to you, they are actually trying to push your buttons. They want to make you mad or sad or scared. Dont let them see your buttons are being hurt. Say something neutral. They can come up with another neutral word. Youre fat. That is a really cool shirt youre wearing, where did you get it? Distract the kid, change the subject. Youre fat. Oh, Im going to do a fat dance and just act silly and goofy. That, the kids love. Young kids really love that. I explain to them, its humor in a harmless way. If you have to put someone down to build yourself up, you cross the line into bullying. So thats a really fun tool for the kids. For the older kids, I offer two more tools. It depends on the situation. These two tools I dont show the younger kids, because they are sophisticated. If someone says youre fat, you can say, oh big is beautiful, thanks for the compliment. Turn something negative into something positive. Turn an insult into a compliment. The other one is, youre fat. Yeah, I know youre right, I am fat and agree. What I tell those kids is, if somebody says something hurtful about my family, my race, my religion, or a part of my body I am sensitive about, I will not agree and I will not turn it into a compliment. I will use another tool. If the tool doesnt work, dont keep using it, use a combination of tools. Again, these are starter tools. What I advise adults, parents, and teachers to do is role-play with those kids that are sensitive, because youve got very sensitive kids, especially boys. Thats how they connect with each other. They do these affectionate insults and when they find a boy in particular that is sensitive to the teasing; they are like mosquitoes going into the kill. They see him jump and they want to see how high he can jump. It is really important to role-play with those kids that are sensitive; to desensitize them enough to think on their feet with these types of tools. I also explain, do not put kids in the position of wearing the bully hat. It should be the adults asking the kids what are some of the hurtful things kids tell you and lets role-play what you can say without putting a bully hat on yourself.

MarySue Hansell
You can see thats just wonderful advice. I know a lot of parents are probably very interested. I am sure theyll want to run out and get your book. You also received a lot of national recognition for this other story that you wrote called The Invisible Boy. What inspired you to write that and what was that about?

Trudy Ludwig
This is an interesting thing. I think -- we human beings are very social by nature, right? We want to connect with people. Social exclusion is something that weve all experienced at some point in our lives, whether were children or as adults. Who hasnt ever felt invisible at school or in the workplace or at some social gathering or sports activity? In particular, I find that quiet, introverted children are particularly vulnerable to this feeling. We all have this basic need to feel connected with others and have a sense of belonging. So I wanted to write the book theme is of a boy to help young readers know that it doesnt take super human efforts to reach out to others to make them feel visible, acknowledged and accepted. I really wanted to show, you dont have to be a super hero to do acts of kindness. It can just be the power of one person to reach out in a kind way to make a positive difference in someone elses life.

MarySue Hansell
You know, what do you think was such a big hit? Why do you think it hit such a universal chord? I know for myself, Ive felt very sorry for that boy and I thought, there must have been a time in my childhood that that happened to me. Do you think thats what it was?

Trudy Ludwig
Yeah. I think it really hits a universal chord. I think thats why my books resonate with the readers. The interesting thing is Ive actually had a lot of responses, not just from the kids but adults. Theyve been telling me that they tear up when they read this story. They use the word; its visceral. It hits them in a visceral way, because at one point or another we all have that experience where we just feel like nobody is really listening to us or seeing us. We have those days where we just want to have somebody acknowledge our presence. I think thats why it really surprised me to the extent of the response. I am very grateful because I think its creating a dialogue with kids and adults of paying attention to people around you that may not be there.

MarySue Hansell
How can adults help children navigate bullying? These situations that happen at school or were actually right outside their houses?

Trudy Ludwig
This is a really big question. I think that I can answer in very general terms. What I find is that adults are really good at giving advice, but what were not good at is checking in with kids to find out if our advice is actually working. Which is a really important thing, especially when youre dealing with bullying. I dont know if youve read information or seen the documentary Bully, but that movie disturbed me on such a high level because that documentary showed adults who really did want to help kids that were suffering from bullying and these were administrators, school administrators and teachers and parents. They actually, in their efforts to help, made the problem so much worse. It was painful. I was literally curled up in the seat, moaning in the movie theater when I watched this. I could never watch that movie again, because it is just so painful.

MarySue Hansell
What did they do that made it worse?

Trudy Ludwig
They would put the kid who was being bullied in the office with the administrator. This was a vice principal meeting with the kid who was tormenting them, and telling the kid who was tormenting, say youre sorry. Now I want you both to shake hands.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Trudy Ludwig
So what that administrator did was victimize that target of bullying even further. That administrator left that child no choice but to say, its okay and I accept your apology. It is not normal conflict. You dont treat bullying like normal conflict. You need to protect the kid who is being bullied and respect their needs and wishes. Restorative justice is a really effective part of dealing and addressing with bullying and it has to be done in a very effective way and part of that procedure is learning whether that child who is being bullied feels safe in the same room with their tormentor. And making sure they feel comfortable with what is going on in that discussion. I think its really important. Its not about just punishing kids who are doing the bullying, because youre just going to get kids angrier, right? Its about natural, immediate consequences that adults need to give to children; natural, immediate consequences that escalate to take the fun out of bullying. And, the second part of this whole process of dealing with bullying is the restorative justice part, because kids who bully, remember, its that lack of empathy. So how can we teach empathy and foster it? How can that child make up for the hurt that he or she has caused another? Thats an important piece.

MarySue Hansell
You know what I wanted to ask you, what can the adults look for to see the warning signs that one of their children may be being bullied?

Trudy Ludwig
Okay. Well there are numerous signs that they could look for. When were dealing with traditional, person to person type bullying, I would look for if its physical -- any outward appearances that are disturbing, such as bruises and cuts; torn clothes; dirty clothes; hunger. If the child seems really abnormally hungry coming home, maybe their lunch is being stolen.

Emotional Bullying
Look for changes, erratic changes in their mood swings. Kids that are normally very social and outgoing all of a sudden are quieter. Kids that normally get a lot of calls at home all of a sudden the phone doesnt ring for them or they have no desire to get together with their friends; trouble sleeping. Either they are sleeping too much or sleeping too little. Kids that are, as they get older, they may be cutting themselves. That could be symptomatic of bullying. Its not always the case when somebody is doing self-cutting but that could be symptomatic. When youre dealing with cyber-bullying its usually in technology to be relationally aggressive. Your child that is normally on the computer is all of a sudden off the computer, or she is off the computer. If youre passing by and the child all of a sudden turns off their monitor or switches from where they are quickly, it could be a sign that they may be a target of cyber-bullying or they are the aggressor. Physical symptoms, headaches and stomach aches. The other thing to look for is eating problems; eating issues with the girls. What theyre finding in research is girls that are more highly relationally aggressive tend to have a higher incidence of anorexia nervosa, bulimia and purging. Also, girls that are targets of relational aggression can also have symptoms of eating disorders.

MarySue Hansell
Thank you very much.

Gregory Hansell
We are going to need to take another break. When we come back well talk more with childrens book author Trudy Ludwig and about her latest book, Gifts from the Enemy. Well be right back.

Gregory Hansell
Were back now with childrens book author, Trudy Ludwig. Hi Trudy this is Greg.

Trudy Ludwig
Hi Greg, how are you?

Gregory Hansell
Oh great, thanks. Are you enjoying the show so far?

Trudy Ludwig
I am, thank you again. Im really enjoying sharing information with your audience.

Gregory Hansell
Well its our pleasure. I want to ask you, I think, a really important question. How pervasive is bullying in the US, and is it a growing problem?

Trudy Ludwig
Okay. So, depending on who you ask and what the research findings are, I tend to follow the researchers who are actively involved in the International Bullying Prevention Association. When I read their research, it depends on how they do their surveys and studies. What Ive found from the researchers I highly respect there, who are very evidence based, they report that actually bullying is not a growing epidemic in the United States. Bullying has actually decreased in the past 10 years. Thats not to say that bullying is not a significant problem. It is a significant problem. It has very devastating effects, but its really important to understand that its not an epidemic. The problem that we have is that when you hear about bullying and the devastating effects on TV or you read it in the newspapers or hear it on the radio, is that when you hear how horrible it is, that some kids are committing suicide, it makes it sound like its an epidemic, so we really need to be thoughtful about the extent of it. I will give you some stats that I have found from some researchers. Theres a wonderful study or national survey called the Youth Voice Project. It was conducted by Stan Davis who is the founding member of the International Bullying Prevention Association and Dr. Charisse Nixon and what they found in their survey of over 14,000 kids across the United States, mostly middle schools and high schools and some upper elementary schools; boys and girls in private and public schools. They found out that one out of four kids had reported being intentionally, emotionally hurt on a regular basis. One out of ten kids reported being intentionally physically hurt on a regular basis. The majority of kids are being decent. The problem is its the minority that is wreaking havoc with the targets of bullying and the majority of bystanders who watch it happen.

Gregory Hansell
Well let me follow that up with cyber-bullying. Ive got a three-and-a-half year old daughter and one thing I talk about with other parents of kids her age is just, wow, it just seems so much scarier now what kids might have to go through just given the prevalence of social media and what not. Is that now more common than regular bullying and what do you have to say about cyber-bullying?

Trudy Ludwig
Interestingly enough, traditional school yard bullying, person to person bullying, is far more common than cyber-bullying. Dr. Justin Patchin and Dr. Sameer Hinduja are two criminology law professors that are co-directors of the US cyber-bullying research center. Theyve conducted studies and one of their studies of, I think it was about 4,000 kids ages 10-18, they asked them have they ever done cyber-bullying in their lifetime. They reported that 20 percent in that survey have done cyber-bullying in their lifetime, which means that 80 percent of kids are being decent. The problem with the internet is that its rapid. With the click of a button or in an instant post, that hurtful comment or posting is sent to many people. It stays on the internet. Thats what I try to explain to kids is whatever you post, text, or e-mail is public and permanent. Its never really gone. I think its really important for parents not to look at the technology as evil. Its a tool. Heres the thing thats really important. Kids, what the researchers show, kids who tend to be hurtful online are also the kids who tend to be hurtful offline. The kids who tend to be bullied offline are also the kids who tend to be bullied online if theres a crossover. So, we parents really need, just like we teach some table manners and to say please and thank you, we really need to teach them internet etiquette. Dont ever post, text, or e-mail anything you wouldnt want your own parent or favorite teacher to read or see.

Gregory Hansell
Thats great. Well listen I actually really want to get to Gifts from the Enemy but let me just ask you briefly to respond to a question that I think you brought up a minute ago. Its so important. What can bystanders do to help peers who are getting hurt?

Trudy Ludwig
I am so glad you brought that up. This is really fascinating. What theyre finding, and this is being dealt with internationally, is really kids have a lot of power and often times more power than the grown-ups at the school. They actually have the power, what the researchers are showing, when kids are bystanders they have the power to end hurtful behaviors in less than 10 seconds in over half the cases they see. Five, being up-standers or I call them super hero bystanders, but up-standers. So Dr. Deborah Craig and Wendy Pepler are two Canadian researchers that actually had hidden video cameras on elementary school playgrounds. They taped kids that play. What they found in their tapings is that over 80 percent of bullying on the playground in elementary schools has an audience; the bystander. But only 11 percent of the time do they intervene, but if they do, they have the power to end bullying in less than 10 seconds in over half the cases. So what we want to do is how do we empower them without risking their safety or risking their counter aggression. In that wonderful survey I cited earlier, the Youth Voice Project, they were asking kids, when you are picked on, what are some of the helpful things that can happen and one of the top answers of kids were comfort me. Listen to me. Take my problem seriously. Let me know that I dont deserve it. You may not help me solve the problem or solve the problem right away, but you could help me get through the hurt. The next one was include me. Include me in a group game or activity. Theres safety in numbers. Remember, social exclusion and intentional social exclusion is a form of relational aggression. Kids will put up with abusive friends for fear of being alone. So we want to know that kids are connecting with healthier friends. The other one is helping kids to understand to go talk to an adult or another peer, find an ally; someone that they can talk to. You may not have a connection with an adult who is competent enough to help you get through the problem, but maybe the bystander knows an adult who is competent. Thats the thing, is connect with allies, kids, or adults.

Gregory Hansell
Well thats an amazing list that Im sure parents and teachers at home will really appreciate. I want to make sure we have time to talk about Gifts from the Enemy, which is your newest release and your first non-fiction childrens book. This is based on a teen Holocaust survivor of five Nazi prison camps. Can you tell us a bit about that book and the man who inspired it?

Trudy Ludwig
Yes. This is really interesting. Back in 2011, when my son was in middle school, he went to a K-8 school where in sixth grade he transferred to the middle school portion of that school. When he was there, a parent had come up to me. She was very very upset. My son also shared this with me that there were some kids in middle school that actually said that the Holocaust was a lie and were calling other kids dirty Jews. I live in a very liberal city, Portland, Oregon and I was shocked. I went with that parent and said we need to meet with the principal because this is totally unacceptable. You know, when I get mad I want to write a book. So, with this one I met with the principal and I explained what had happened and I said, I have learned that in Oregon there is an Oregon Holocaust research center and they have some Holocaust survivors living in Portland area or nearby and they will send a speaker, a survivor, and you cant tell me that the school doesnt have money for it because its free. He found the speaker, the speaker happened to be Alter Wiener. The principal asked me and the parent, when we originally met with them, could you please be his driver, chaperone, because he doesnt drive, hes in his 80s and he lived about a half hour away. So, we picked him up and took him to the school for him to talk. I heard him talk and I was really babbling. I was crying hearing this man. He was a very magnetic speaker. He has spoken to many people. He cant travel beyond an hour or two because of his health. I was smitten by him and the message he had to say. When he was sharing one portion of the story, the story was unfolding in my head. I didnt let him know what I did first as an author. But I asked if we could meet again to have tea with some other women and then eventually I approached him by e-mail and explained what I do for a living and asked if I could have his legal and personal blessing to write a childrens version, because I really wanted to take his story, which he self-published for high school students and also for adults. I wanted to get his important message of social justice and kindness in a way that wouldnt traumatize kids; to help them to understand that they have the power to change a persons life in such a big way.

Gregory Hansell
Thats an amazing story and I think one thing that really blew my mind was that this actual project was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Trudy Ludwig
Yes. So I really wanted to have control over this book quite a bit. Typically when youre a picture book author, the publisher has the say in the illustrator. I knew I was dealing with a sensitive issue and I really wanted to pick the illustrator and I really wanted to have control over this because it was such an important book, and I had to be true to him, to Alter. He didnt want anything fictionalized with his story. I also was in a time constraint because this gentleman, right now he is 88, he just turned 88 this October and he was 85 at the time and I was worried. I wanted to make sure I could get this book out before he passes, because I want him to see that I am going to try to have his talk with on, so his voice can be recorded. Especially with most of the Holocaust survivors passing away right now, we have very few that are left. I found this small press that originally published my first book My Secret Bully before my contract was sold to other press and I was good friends with the publisher who, Steve Scholl, and I approached him on the story, he fell in love with it and he told me you know we are actually trying to do a movement. Human kind movement to promote kindness with our books and we want your book to be the first one, but we needed to run a Kickstarter campaign because its very expensive to produce picture books with illustrations. Also, Steve knows me well enough that he really gave me a lot of creative control and voice in the books to make sure that the illustrations wouldnt traumatize children. That was my big thing. I wanted to create a story that was haunting but not traumatizing. I went on Kickstarter to raise money for it. People knew my books and work. Because often times the bigger presses also dont get that this isnt just another book about the Holocaust. I wanted to take it on a whole higher level. In fact I dont even use the word Holocaust in the story itself if you notice. I really wanted it to explain that kids can understand that this person may be different from you, live from a different country, have a different accent, but he had and his family had really wonderful family values and kind values, to help them to understand how words and how hatred starts. I wanted to get that message out. So Kickstarter was a great venue for us to promote the book. I got great support through social networking which is wonderful. Thats the power of the internet, is it also has the power to do great work; not just evil or hurtful things but they also can promote wonderful campaigns of kindness. So I was very fortunate that I had some well-known people that are in the area of promoting bullying prevention and saw what I was doing and they spread the word and posted on blogs and one thing led to another and I was able to raise the funds to help us pull this off.

Gregory Hansell
That is incredible. I hate to interrupt you but we only have one minute left and so I have to give you 45 seconds to answer a really large question. I ask this every week to everyone and I always do this. I only give a few seconds. It is, how do you hope, in your case your books, are helping to make the world a better place for children to young people. 45 seconds.

Trudy Ludwig
I hope that my books help empower kids. That they have the power to, they can choose to be cruel or they can choose to be kind. Its far better to be kind than it is to be right.

Gregory Hansell
Well thank you so much Trudy. You know, bullying is such an important issue today. It still hasnt gotten I think the proper attention and the proper effort. Bullying hurts everyone involved, bullies and the targets and can injure them for the rest of their lives. So I think its so essential that people take bullying seriously and take steps to address it as early as possible and constantly throughout their education. So I wanted to thank you from all of us here at BetterWorldians Radio for all youre doing to raise awareness. Thank you so much.

Trudy Ludwig
Thank you.

Gregory Hansell
You can find out more about Trudy Ludwig and her wonderful books by going to trudyludwig.com. Join us next week on BetterWorldians Radio. As we end our show wed like to share our Better Worldians mission. We strive to make the world a better place by encouraging the best in everyone. We focus on positive thinking, positive values, and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the Better Worldian in everybody so that we can all make it a better world. So until next time, please be a Better Worldian.