Bullying gets lots of attention but some of the discussion is shrouded in persistent myths - that girls bully more than boys, that online and in-person bullying are entirely distinct, that bullying is a common cause of suicide.
A new book dispels the myths about bullying, defining what bullying is - and isn't. It also offers guidance for when and how schools and parents should intervene.
Emily Bazelon is author of "Sticks and Stones: Defeating The Culture Of Bullying And Rediscovering The Power And Character Of Empathy" (excerpt below). Bazelon is also a senior editor at Slate magazine and a senior research fellow at Yale Law School.
"There are ways in which kids can stand with the victim as opposed to standing up to the bully," Bazelon told Here & Now. "So you can counsel kids to send a sympathetic text message after they see someone who's hurt. In polls of kids who've been bullied when they were asked what their peers did that helped the most those were the kinds of actions they mentioned. These small moments of empathy can actually make a huge difference."
____Book Excerpt: 'Sticks and Stones'
By: Emily Bazelon
These fictional kids—stand-ins for the real children left out of the history books—suffered their cuts, burns, and hurt feelings while the adults stood by. No teacher or parent helped Tom or sympathized with Laura. When Jane’s aunt interceded, it was to lock up her niece for defending herself. Fiction reflected a cold underlying fact of life: bullying was a matter of course. A battery of sayings would arise to dismiss its significance: Boys will be boys. Just walk away. Ignore it. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. This basic stance remained largely unchanged in America for the next hundred years: bullying was an inexorable part of life, a force of nature, and the best thing to do was to shrug it off.And then on April 20, 1999, that bedrock principle of child rear- ing collapsed in this country. That morning, at 11:19, two seniors— Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold—walked into Columbine High School, in a suburb outside Denver, and opened fire on their classmates with semiautomatic weapons. When the forty-nine-minute rampage was over, twelve students and a teacher lay dead, with two dozen more students injured. It was a dreadful awakening, for many of us, to the devastation that disaffected but normal-seeming middle-class teenagers can wreak. In the aftermath, a nation that had treated bullying as a rite of passage suddenly started to rethink its indifference. Harris and Klebold weren’t themselves targets of bullying (or known bullies). But when a subsequent nationwide investigation revealed that most kids who turn into school shooters have previously felt persecuted, bullied, or threatened, the lesson was driven home: to brush off bullying was to court disaster, by ignoring a deadly serious threat.
Excerpted from the book STICKS AND STONES by Emily Bazelon. Copyright © 2013 by Emily Bazelon. Reprinted with permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
- Emily Bazelon, author of "Sticks and Stones: Defeating The Culture Of Bullying And Rediscovering The Power And Character Of Empathy."
This segment aired on March 5, 2013.
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