Bullying is an ever-present issue in our schools, and even in our workplaces. And our news feeds contain far too many stories of the terrible, and sometimes fatal, results that can come from bullying. I don’t know if it actually occurs more these days than it did when I was a kid, but I do know that smartphones, Facebook, SnapChat, and other means of digital communications have made the spread of hateful messages easier and faster, providing greater opportunities for bullies to do their nasty work. Our kids can’t escape their bullies just by coming home at the end of the school day.
Jodee Blanco is a writer and speaker who has spent the last twelve years touring schools throughout the US to spread her anti-bullying message and offer support to affected students. A survivor of bullying herself, Jodee draws on her own experiences to illustrate in her talks how bullying affects the victim, and how everyone can better work together to bring an end to the torment.
Her latest book, Bullied Kids Speak Out, brings together the stories of seventeen kids she’s worked with over the years. This volume allows them to tell their stories in their own voices, directed specifically at other kids struggling with bullying. As she says, sometimes it takes a kid, and not an adult, no matter how well-intentioned, to reach another kid in pain and get them to do something about it. Each story is followed with comments from Jodee, drawing out key points of what went wrong and what went right, ending with words of encouragement and suggestions for action for any young person in a similar position.
This is a powerful book including stories from bullies as well as the bullied. One of the stories is even about a bullying teacher. Since the stories are in the kids’ own words, they can be a little odd to read as an adult. Slang and texting short forms are commonly used, and the stories are not polished in any literary sense. But they are real and authentic. This book is geared to tweens and teens and would certainly feel familiar and appeal to them.
The young people represented in this book have bravely come forward to share their experiences and are to be commended. I particularly like the broad variety of situations depicted and how this shows the variety of ways in which bullying can manifest. This would be an important book to have in school libraries and a good read for any tween or teen, but particularly for anyone who finds himself or herself the victim of bullies. These stories not only provide confirmation that you are not alone, but, importantly, provide ideas and examples of how to make things better.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.