Dennis the Menace Stands Up Against Bullying


Dennis the Menace may be known as a troublemaker, but he has never crossed the line into bullying.  In October, school administrators and teachers at Miller Elementary School in Canton, Michigan invited David Crumm, editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine, to brainstorm ideas for engaging young students to recognize and stand up against bullying.

Mr. Crumm shared a copy of the book, Bullying Is No Laughing Matter, with school officials who especially liked the “Fence of Friends” activity guide based on a “Dennis the Menace” strip.


Cartoonist Ron Ferdinand drew the “Dennis the Menace” comic which states, “The best defense against bullying is a Fence of Friends.” This thought inspired the faculty at Miller Elementary School to demonstrate how the “Fence of Friends” concept works. Students at an assembly were given an 8×11 sheet of paper with an outline of a fence on it. Over the next few weeks, they will be asked to draw their own Fence of Friends on that sheet of paper.

Teachers understand that some students will immediately fill their fences with sketches of friends, while other children will sit quietly with a near empty fence. That’s when teachers will encourage students to look at the drawings that will be posted around the classroom in the coming weeks. Then, students will be invited to “draw themselves in” to those fences that are near empty. By doing so, children will thereby make the commitment to be good friends to others throughout the school year.

It’s truly an honor that Dennis is included in a book as important as Bullying Is No Laughing Matter, one that is positively impacting children in one school to stand together by building their own “fence of friends.”

In addition to Bullying Is No Laughing Matter (for adults to use with kids), ReadTheSpirit publishes Michigan State University’s The New Bullying (for parents and teachers).

BullyingBookClick here for more information on how Miller Elementary School builds a ‘Fence of Friends.’


4 thoughts on “Dennis the Menace Stands Up Against Bullying

  1. When I was a few years older than the character, (Dennis is an eternal five years old) I loved reading Dennis the Menace cartoons, and had a number of the collected paperback collections. (Dept. of Redundancy Department) Dennis was a basically good-hearted kid whose precociousness was always getting him into some sort of mishap or chaos. The charm was that nobody (except Mister Wilson, of course) could really stay mad at the guy, because it was all just the exuberance of being alive and five years old and discovering things about the way the world works.
    Hank Ketchum, the creator of Dennis the Menace, retired some years ago, handing off the drawing and writing duties to other artists to carry on with the strip. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, Dennis changed. I won’t even talk about the lazy artwork designed to be somehow reminiscent of Ketchum’s original style. I’m talking about the nature of Dennis himself. He went from being a loveable troublemaker to a snarky, snotty, downright mean little brat. He lords it over his pal Joey, caustically insults Margaret, and is always looking for ways to be deliberately sneaky and sly. He’s a bully and a creep. He’s gone from being Dennis the Menace to Dennis the Mean-ass.

  2. The Denis the Menace comic published in the RIchmond Times-Dispatch this past week, in which he told the little girl that she looked more like a cow than a cowgirl, is certainly bullying. I am also going to write RTD and ask that an apology be given.

    Nancy Carnan

  3. Dennis, as the title of the comic suggests, is basically a menace and a nuisance to everyone he encounters. Dennis IS the bully in this scenario, so I think he’s the one who ought to be sent away from the group in shame.

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