Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sticks and Stones

Sticks And Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Emily Bazelon

This review is based on an advance copy provided by Goodreads. Tentative on-sale date, according to the cover, is February 19, 2013. This review is also on hte Goodreads website

Emily Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate, an online magazine, wrote in-depth stories about Phoebe Prince, a young woman who killed herself after bullying at her western Massachusetts high school. In Prince’s story, Bazelton found a perennial topic.

She went back to the Prince case through the eyes of one of Prince’s tormentors, Flannery Mullins, revealing Prince was more than a bullied young woman – Prince had psychiatric issues that made coming from Ireland to America more difficult. Add the bullying, and it was a recipe for tragedy. Mullins was criminally charged for her part in Prince’s persecution.

Bazelon adds the stories of two other bullied young people, “Monique” and “Jacob” to the mix. While not suicidal, both were bullied for being different – Monique for wearing her hair in a style that two other girls did not approve of, and Jacob because he is gay and found flamboyant ways to express it.

The stories are heartbreaking. And Bazelon is quick to say that Prince, Monique and Jacob are not alone. Many children are bullied. Some never recover.

Yes, bullying is something that has gone on since there were people. Most get over it and on with their lives. But, a modern invention, the Internet has made bullying almost inescapable, Bazelon says. It is something that does not stop when the bullied child leaves school – the abuse follows him or her into the home via the Internet. There is no escape.

Bazelon offers some solutions – parental involvement in their children’s online activities, and an example of one school group holding a “Delete Day,” where questionable Internet information was erased.

But, Bazelon has no sure-fire cure for the problem. This is a book that anyone who has a young person in their lives should read, if only to get a handle on what that young person, either as one bullied or one doing the bullying is facing.

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