Every book has it’s purpose. Whether it’s to entertain, distract, teach, or serve as drink coaster. Sometimes it’s not until you’re halfway through a book that you realize what purpose the book you’re holding will serve. It was in the “Foreward” section of the Bullying Under Attack, contributed by John Halligan, that I realized the true purpose of this non-fiction book.
First, let me share with you a little about this book. I requested this book on NetGalley because bullying is a subject that I have always and will always be on the lookout for. Being the mother of a high-functioning autistic child, I know he’s got a tough road ahead of him. I’ve worked in an elementary school lunchroom and I work often in the children’s room at our library. I’ve seen how cruel young children can be without even knowing they are doing it. My son is no exception and I hope to educate him to treat everyone how he himself would want to be treated. I just imagine what life for my son will be like when he gets older.
And that brings me to why this book is so unique. It contains stories not just from the side of the person being bullied. It also contains stories and perspectives told by those watching on the sidelines and from the bullies themselves.
In the Introduction of the book, the editor(s) explains how this book came to be. In brief, there was a contest held by Nicholas Kristof, a columnist at the New York Times. He had written an article about bullying and then ran a national contest, looking for submissions from teens about their experiences with bullying. Together with Teen Ink (a magazine and website completely devoted to teen writing, art, and forums) they compiled the best works to put into a book.
This anthology is organized brilliantly. There are eight chapters, each dealing with one aspect of bullying, whether it’s surviving bullying, cyber bullying, or diversity. It’s all organized well. Within those chapters, there are multiple works ranging from essays, poems, and even works of art and photography (truly amazing!). Each of these individual works could be written from the point of view of the victim, the bystander, or the bully themself. Some are written in the moment. Some are looking back in time.
I was just blown away by the voices I read in these pieces. Both heart breaking and inspirational.
Not to leave it just at that, this anthology ends with a great summary written by Dr. Ramani Durvasula. In it, she summarizes the state of bullying today and ways (or clues) that parents/families/teachers can seek to identify early problems in a child’s life.
There’s also a fabulous section with tons of links for online resources for help with bullying.
Not to be too obvious but to bring it all back around to the purpose of this book… it’s certainly not to be the drink coaster under a can of soda.
I truly believe this book should be available in every library, whether it’s a school library or public library. To have a book like this that a teen can go to, open up, and read stories written by fellow teens, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, I believe is a huge comfort to those kids wondering what to do when they are dealing with a bully in their life. They could show the book to their parents. They could use the online resources in the back. As the bystander, they could just hand it to a victim. The uses are endless.
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