by Denise Gary
Photographs by Robert Gary and Bruce Matsunaga

Kids Need to Read hosted a very well-attended anti-bullying presentation at Phoenix Comicon as part of our Kids-N-Peace program. The panel, From Bullying to Harmony: Understanding and Dealing with Bullying, was initiated and supported by Phoenix Comicon’s Youth Programming Department, and featured author Tom Leveen (Party, Zero, manicpixiedreamgirl), author Susan Stoltz (Sharkey series) and her dog Sharkey, Sgt. Darren Burch of Silent Witness, as well as myself representing Kids Need to Read. The goal of the presentation was to help families learn to deal with the pervasive menace of bullying. A free copy of the book, Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies, was provided to each family in attendance, courtesy of Kids Need to Read.

Panelists Tom Leveen, Denise Gary, Susan Stoltz, and Sgt. Darren Burch

Among the children Kids Need to Read serves, a shocking number cite bullying as a key factor when considering dropping out of school completely. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day in the United States because of bullying, and one out of ten students ultimately drop out due to repeated bullying. If the goal of our education system is to keep kids in school and focused on their studies, the issue of rampant bullying must be addressed in all schools at all age levels. It was for this reason Kids Need to Read and the other panel guests joined together to present From Bullying to Harmony at the convention.


Tom photo bombed while waiting for the panel to begin.

Sharkey posed like a star!

After introductions, Susan Stoltz discussed changing bullying behavior in elementary school-aged children before it becomes a lifestyle issue.

Tom pointed out that we all have the capacity to be bullies; that even if a person does not think of themselves as one, someone else might.

Sgt. Darren Burch concentrated on how important it is for our children to have the confidence of confidentiality when telling teachers and parents about a bully scenario.

Sgt. Burch played a Phoenix Comicon special edition Silent Witness video at my request. It always makes me laugh—Sgt. Burch is a star!

I stepped down to the floor to share my bullying tale of “Stinkpot” with the kids.

I also shared how books can be used to help students cope with bullying, learn peaceful conflict resolution techniques, and develop effective leadership skills.

The talks were followed by a Question and Answer session.

Attendees received a list of the Kids Need to Read “Peace Packs” book collection. Access to this list is provided at the bottom of the KNTR Kids-N-Peace web page.

KNTR volunteer Michael Emerson handed out copies of Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies at the end of the presentation.

Thanks so much to panelists Tom Leveen, Susan Stoltz & Sharkey, Sgt. Darren Burch, as well as Phoenix Comicon’s Youth Programming Department, especially Mac MacKellar, Jill Oliver, Lydia Cota, and Taylor Ulery. Kids and parents were greatly invested in the program, which made us realize we should repeat this panel next year. Be sure to watch for From Bullying to Harmony at Phoenix Comicon 2014.

More Photos: From Bullying to Harmony: Understanding and Dealing with Bullying Photo Gallery

Related Blog: The Joy of Phoenix Comicon 2013!
Related Blog: Fourth Annual KNTR Geek Prom was Fab!
Related Blog: So Much Fun! (Don’t Tell the Kids They Were Learning!) KNTR Build-a-Book Program with Steven Riley


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