You see, while bullying is an epidemic that is increasingly seen on the news and on social media, it also hits home for me. You see, my teen son was horribly bullied, if not terrorized, from Kindergarten until our recent move to Ohio. (Our move literally saved him. I truly believe this.)
Kyle is a great kid...Talented, artistic, intelligent, and very compassionate. He is a pretty good looking kid, too. So why was he bullied? Because he didn't play sports or gravitate towards all of the "normal" things most boys tend to like. He was called gay, a faggot, and much, much worse. He was even physically assaulted quite a few times, and the schools did very little to address the problem. Kyle became depressed and didn't even want to leave the house. As a mom, I felt helpless.
Fast forward to today...Kyle is no longer bullied. We left Virginia, partially to give him a new start, and he has tons of friends and even goes outside to hang out with the neighborhood kids. He is a brand new kid!
It even looks at cyber-bullying which is a growing problem nowadays with kids using social media to communicate. (Yes, I JUST allowed Kyle to get a Facebook and his own e-mail address, and I monitor these like a hawk.) Other issues discussed are myths about bullying, the correlation between bullying and suicide, and how to teach kids empathy rather than apathy.
The key to stopping the hate is to understand it...Parents need to be proactive and lead their kids by example. Rather than criticize others, let's help build them up. I will be honest, it really bothers me when I see adults putting others down. It happens all the time, and kids see and hear this, so they mimic the behavior and assume it's acceptable. Maybe someone was wearing an outfit that was odd...Maybe someone is overweight...Or gay...Or another race or religion. These are not reasons to hurt someone, whether it be physically or emotionally. We're all different, and these things that make us unique should be celebrated. I refuse to surround myself with people who subscribe to this brand of negativity, and definitely try and keep my kids from witnessing it, too.
The harsh reality is that words DO hurt. And their effects can actually last for years. Let's teach our children that kindness towards others, even those who are different, is a better way to live. Kudos to Ms. Bazelon for tackling such a difficult subject with grace and understanding. I would definitely recommend Sticks and Stones to teens and parents alike. If we change the way we view bullying, we can give our children a much better future.
How to Connect :
Sticks And Stones: Defeating The Culture Of Bullying And Rediscovering The Power Of Character And Empathy is a hardcover book published by Random House. It is 400 pages long. The suggested cover price is $27.00, but Amazon has it on sale right now for a bit less.
It will also be available on audio CD, as well as on e-book for the Kindle and other e-readers.
I received an advance readers' copy of this book in order to read it and share my thoughts on it. All opinions are my own, and not that of the author(s) or publisher.