Posts Tagged ‘dear bully’

Bullying

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Brace yourselves…my blog post today is about neither books nor travel.  It’s about bullying.  Far too many really good kids I know are getting beaten down and bullied and the schools are not getting a handle on it.  Zero tolerance policy is a fallacy.  But I don’t blame the schools entirely.  Mostly, I blame the parents.  I don’t generally like to play the blame game, and feel free to shout me down, but whatever else you do, let’s discuss.

When I was a kid, we tended to think of bullies as kids who were bullied themselves and passed it along to others.  What I actually see behind most of the bullies are parents who make excuses for their kids, don’t rein them in or even pay much attention to what they’re doing, don’t draw boundaries or create consequences. From here I see two divergent things: those parents who immediately deal with their kids when they realize what’s going on, in which case the behavior is often nipped in the bud, and those who don’t, in which case it isn’t.  Many of the former and even some the latter are good people, some so nice you hate to bring things up and hurt feelings; you wonder how their kids’ behavior ever became an issue.  But silence doesn’t solve the problem.

The kids who are an ongoing threat are often those whose parents when confronted with their child’s behavior tell the person talking that they must be mistaken.  In some cases, they go a step farther.  Since their child would never do such a thing; yours must be a liar…or an instigator.  Yes, let’s blame the victims.  If by some miracle, they’re convinced there’s some fault, their reaction is not determination to get to the root of things or teach tolerance and empathy or offer up concrete consequences, but to give the kid a slap on the wrist and maybe take away video games for a night.  Really?  Children are getting emotionally scarred, some to the point where they’d rather not face another day, and you’re taking away video games?  I’m not saying one serious punishment will change the behavior.  Not at all.  But awareness, interaction, teaching tolerance and conversing with your kids might make a difference.  I’m talking about not spouting vitriol that the kids might adopt or creating an environment in which anything goes.  About not being blind to your child’s faults or creating such a buffer to protect them from the consequences of their actions that they never feel there are any.

Last week I heard that there were kids up at our lodge throwing stones, damaging cars and a five year old girl.  I wish I could say this surprised me.  A few weeks before Christmas (or maybe a bit more), two boys in our neighborhood were out shooting bb guns…at my son.  When a mother came to collect them and Ty told her what had happened, she said she’d deal with it.  However, based on the fact that her boys are constant problems in the neighborhood, I don’t have any faith in the response.  Ty likes to handle things on his own.  If he’d called me when it happened, I’d have called the police.  I told the kids exactly that the next time I saw them, but I doubt it will stop them from attacking the next kid.  In fact, I don’t think they’re going to stop or their mother will have her blinders knocked askew until the police actually come knocking at her door.  Even then….

I found out about No Name-Calling Week when Rob Neufeld did a piece on it and the DEAR BULLY anthology to which I contributed in this weekend’s Asheville Citizen-Times.  The No Name-Calling Week website has planning kits and some great resources for parents, teachers and students.  I encourage people to check it out.

I do wish, though, that we had all the answers.  I wish we could reach the parents who really need to be reached and that we could truly stop bullying before it happens and not just deal with the aftermath.  Please, please, if anyone has further ideas, resources, links, I’d love to hear them and to help spread the word.

DEAR BULLY: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

HarperTeen

Trade Paperback

September 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0062060983

I can barely even talk about this wonderful anthology and the terrible events that sparked it without a tear in my eyes.  I’m touched and amazed by the generosity of the contributors, who were willing to open their hearts and bare their past pain to give kids inspiration, hope and the understanding that it gets better.  I’m inspired by the anthologists, Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones, who put this all together and started the Dear Bully website and Facebook pages to continue the community and information tapped into with the collection.  But enough of my words, let me let them tell you about it in theirs….

WHY THEY DID IT
Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when they both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. Megan reached out to Carrie expressing her frustration with this case and the fact that bullying that seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, Megan was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing her books, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, she had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as she possibly could. When she heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, she felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of her book and into real life. She was also disheartened by the numerous times she’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, they felt that they owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying — to make it “uncool.” Megan Kelley Hall started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire “movement” to end bullying.  This was the day that Megan, Carrie and other authors decided to use their platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board of this cause — wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group jumped from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and Megan were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.

The stories in DEAR BULLY come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional.  All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it’s not a rite of passage. It doesn’t make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of. Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure–at least, not by themselves.

Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past.

Don’t forget to join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dearbully, visit the website at www.dearbully.com, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dearbully.

IN THE NEWS:

“FIGHT BACK WITH WORDS. Better Homes & Gardens recommends DEAR BULLY: Remind youngsters heading back to school that getting picked on is tough—but that words can also heal as much as they can hurt, as one anthology proves.”  – Better Homes & Gardens

“This anthology of personal essays provides empathetic and heartfelt stories from each corner of the schoolyard: the bullied, the bystander and the bully himself are all represented. Their words will be a welcome palliative or a wise pre-emptive defense against the trials of adolescent social dynamics.”           –New York Times

“Two of them, both authors of novels for young adults (Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones), have drawn on the power of the written word to focus attention on the problem and offer solace to the bullied.” – —The Boston Globe

“You’ll love it if… You know someone (or are someone) who’s ever been involved in any type of bullying incident. There’s something in it for everyone, on all sides of the spectrum. You’ll love it even more if you can find a story that inspires you to help someone else.” – Seventeen.com

“With authority often turning a blind eye and cyber-bullying rampant, this timely collection is an excellent resource, especially for group discussion, and the appended, annotated list of websites and further reading extends its usefulness.” – Booklist

“Powerful…All of these stories feel authentic and honest, and readers will find a story or a person to identify with, to look to for comfort or guidance.” School Library Journal

“Bottom line is this anthology is a terrific tool for the counselor who can customize the entries to the needs of the victimized student.”  — Harriet Klausner

Over Labor Day weekend, I attended my first-ever Dragon*Con, and I just have to say…WOW.  Huge, amazing, such a sense of community.  Loved it.  Yes, there will be pics at the end of this post.  Before I get to that, a few things:

More than Publicity debuted the music video for my Vamped series at Dragon*Con.  You can view it here.  It’s not quite final yet.  As soon as it is, I’ll be blasting it out there, posing on my website…you name it.  I think the song is addictive, which I can say because while I had input, all the credit goes to the amazing artist, Catriona, and to Shannon Aviles at MTP.

I was up yesterday on Mike Kabongo’s Agent Incite blog with “The Real: Lucienne Diver.”  Hope my answers do justice to the spirit of fun inherent in the questions themselves.

Also yesterday, the amazing DEAR BULLY anthology released from HarperTeen.  This is a collection of essays and other non-fiction formats written by 70 young adult authors about bullying, complete with an index of resources for those who need to know how to reach out.  A portion of the proceeds to to the Stomp Out Bullying campaign.  Yes, I’m a contributor to the anthology.  Yes, this is a subject matter very near and dear to my heart.

Charles de Lint gave Steven Harper’s WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL a nice write-up in his September/October “Books to Look For” feature in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

And now, some pics from Dragon*Con! (1-Magical Words gathering; 2-Rachel Caine and I as we begin booth set-up; 3-Jessi Vail, Kaylan Doyle, me, Samantha Sommersby, Melisa Todd and Sarah Weiss post booth set-up; 4-Part of The Knight Agency dinner (Marley Gibson, Deidre Knight, Tyler, Jennifer St. Giles, Jade Lee and Patrick Burns); 5- Another part of The Knight Agency dinner (Peter Wheeler, Kalayna Price, David B. Coe, Riley, Jud Knight and Faith Hunter); 6- Pete and I done up as Perseus and Andromeda for the masked ball; 7- The sith and I; 8- The Wizard of Oz (the first thing I saw upon entering my hotel!); 9- Zombie Cows; 10- Puppet Pal Snape & friend)