Concerned About Bullying? I’ve Got a Book for You.

Bullying is one of my biggest worries where my kids are concerned.  It’s always been a problem but lately it seems almost epidemic, with dire–sometimes fatal–consequences. I find myself constantly on the lookout for signs that my school-age daughter is being bullied, or engaging in bullying behavior. I know what I’d do if I found out the latter: the hammer of negative consequences would come down on her with a wrath that could only be described as Biblical. As Tina Fey would say, “I will not have that sh&t. I will not have it.”

But what if she’s a victim of bullying? I’ve already witnessed my share of playground politicking, and it makes me feel, frankly, powerless. I’ve read lots of articles with tips about what to do–how to approach school officials, how to build up my daughter’s self-esteem. If and when I encounter blatant bullying, I will not hesitate to step in and protect my child. But as anybody who’s been bullied knows (and a lot of us have been bullied, right?), there’s a dimension to the experience that just defies any attempts at Making It Better.

I’m starting to think that one of the most important things we can do for young people is simply to let them know they’re not alone. That’s why I’m so excited to have a short story in a new anthology dedicated to this topic. DEAR BULLY: 70 AUTHORS TELL THEIR STORIES (HarperCollins) includes pieces by victims, by former bullies and by those who stood by and let bullying happen. It’s a powerful book, told from a variety of perspectives, and I hope it will be a resource both for kids and for those who work with and love them.

My piece, titled “Can We Make This Letter Disappear?” is a letter to my high school self, offering perspective and advice I wish I’d had at age 16. More than anything I wanted to communicate that bullying takes many forms. I wasn’t bullied in the classic sense – beyond some grade school boys who chased me home a couple of times, and the senior who told me on the first day of my freshman year that she was going to “kick my ass.” (My mom was a “will not have that sh&t” kind of mom, too – she had that girl in the principal’s office the next day, and the threats ended there.) I did, however, experience and participate in a good deal of “girl drama.” You know, gossip, rivalry, bitchiness–the kind of stuff that quietly chips away at a person. To this day I still feel the scars in the way I view friendships with other women. Girl drama is a form of bullying, too, and if my daughter ever experiences it — who am I kidding? WHEN my daughter experiences it — I want her to know she’s not the only one. That it does get better.

If you know a kid who is struggling with bullying, or if you work with kids, I hope you’ll check out DEAR BULLY. A portion of proceeds go to Stomp Out Bullying. And because I believe so much in this project, I’m going to give away one of my personal copies in a random drawing. Just leave a comment below – I’ll take entries until 10 p.m. EST Sept. 28. Please help spread the word! This is such an important topic and no child should have to face bullying alone.

8 thoughts on “Concerned About Bullying? I’ve Got a Book for You.

  1. Congrats on the short story! Great article. It is such a troubling issue facing girls today. My daughter has had to face quite a bit very early on (4th grade), but it has improved since then. But as you mention, the girl drama can chip away over time, is more subtle, and has lasting effects.

  2. Great Blog Article! I am very excited about getting this book for me and my daughter! My daughter is in 4th grade and has been diagnosed with ADHD (who’s kids haven’t been diagnosed with it these days, right?!). My daughter has impulse control issues and some social challenges that cause her to be the subject of some significant bullying. It started in first grade! She goes to a small school, which makes matters worse. She draws pictures of her and “a friend she hopes she has one day”. We do visit a child specialist to help my daughter work on her social skills (does not understand the concept of personal space, talks too loud, interrupts, are some of her small challenges) and she is improving! I just hope we can keep her self esteem capable of overcoming this time in her life until she can grow into herself. It is hard enough to find ways of helping her, but the senseless girl-taunting is just fuel to the fire! Thanks for supporting this cause!!!

  3. Sharon Druker says:

    Thank you for sharing this book – as a parent of 2 elementary school children (1 boy, 1 girl) I certainly am aware of and concerned about this issue. Too often we think of bullying only as physical, whereas the emotional bullying and general meanness can chip away at our children’s self esteem and be even more painful. “Stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” has never convinced any one, especially not the victims of bullying. It will be very helpful for children to see that “this to shall pass” and that others have survived bullying and thrived.

  4. I’m really glad you and the book address not just kids who are bullied, but kids who do the bullying. It seems like all of the information I’ve seen so far just addresses how to help children deal with being bullied, and is unwilling to admit bullies can be the children of concerned, responsible parents as well. Insight from the authors who bullied on why they did it, and how they feel about it later in life, may make the difference for a kid who does not understand why he gives in to his need to feel superior to others. I look forward to reading this book with my child, who has no doubt been both bullied and bullying.

  5. As a mom of 5 and a 7th grade teacher , I am excited to be able to share
    This book with not only my own kids, but also my students!
    When you are bullied, it’s so important to know that you are
    Not alone.

    My eldest headed off to middle school this September, and my biggest fear is not that he will fail a class, or that he won’t make the hockey team, but that he will be the victim of bullying. I’m left wondering, as they get older, foes parenting ever get easier?!

    1. Sara Bennett Wealer (@sbennettwealer) says:

      Hey there! Posting last must be good luck – I pulled your name out of my trusty random drawing popcorn bowl! If you will email your snail mail address to me (sara at sarabennettwealer dot com), then I will send you a copy of the book!

      Thank you to everybody who commented. I hope you’ll buy DEAR BULLY – like I said, a portion of proceeds go to a great cause!

  6. The mean-spirited emotional bullying started when my daughter was in 3rd grade. The constant snipe remarks about her clothes, hair, height (she is short), lunch, school work, etc….was so hard on her. Yes, the names hurt, sometimes more than the sticks and stones. She tried everything the teachers and counselors told her to do, but it never worked. WHY? Because no one in that school ever did anything about the bully. She was a pretty girl with a great smile who could manipulate her way out of anything. Finally, in April of the school year, the issue got resolved. The bully had a bad home life and the admins made up 100 excuses for her. I am sorry her home life isn’t perfect, but that is never an excuse to treat others poorly. Yes, our kids have to have a strong sense of self, but I think their friends and classmates need to step up as well and stop the bullying when they see it. I will definitely look for this book. Yes, bulllying gets better, but it still takes place, even at the office. HIgh school never really ends.

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