Best Friends, Worst Enemies

School counselors, no matter the age of their students, deal with the social development of, and social difficulties between, children. Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill Grace wrote an illuminating book on this topic entitled Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children (2002).

While the book is directed at parents, school counselors will find much to help them understand the invisible forces that drive children’s groups and ways to resolve the social cruelty that exists at school.

Three chapters in the book that stand out are “In the Jungle: The Power of the Group in Children’s Lives”, “Worst Enemies: Social Cruelty in the Lives of Children” and “What Schools Can Do.”

Thompson and Grace interestingly point out that unlike incest or physical abuse, social abuse happens in the open where everyone can see it.  Suggestions are given toward creating moral schools, instilling ethical standards, and harnessing the power of teachers.


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