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Since I started this website, my awareness of bullying/harassment issues has grown considerably, as has the definition. The word "bully" all by itself has become a buzz word-people are quick to label almost anything bullying. That word, the verb and the noun, is used much too freely, as is the word hate.

Bullying has changed in as many ways as you can count. All of the "isms" -racism, sexism, socioeconomic-ism, age-ism, genderism, etc. are based on a difference of power, those with power over those with less power, without any power, or not even involved in power. This requirement is crucial. Think about our history, think about the newspaper headlines over the last few years. Make a list of groups that have been bullied/harassed starting with labels. Make a list of all groups with bullying power and in creating that list, think about those who grant that power, encourage or support that power, justify that power. The power that goes with elitism. Is anything there a surprise? Humans-not all--seemingly like to degrade those with less.

Another thing to be aware of is Institutional Bullying-when an institution knows the harassment is happening and does nothing to stop it, allowing the harassment to continue seemingly condoned. That institution is libel and must be held responsible. "When Institutions Are Libel for Bullying." The ALAN Review Winter 2014 The Penn State Coach child sex abuse scandal has recently been revived, showing that those in charge knew decades before the abuse came to public view and did nothing. That is a powerful and current example of institutional bullying.

If you think about just the time you have been here on earth, you can probably name several groups that have been bullied/harassed/ discriminated against by those with more power/acceptance/privileges. Make a list, and get your students do make a list and share it.

Sexual harassment, racial harassment, gender harassment, socio-economic harassment, class harassment, ability harassment, physical and mental health harassment, ad nauseam. All such labels are given by those that "have" or "are" over those who do "not have" or "are not." Who gets to define that illusive and un-definable "norm?"

The book Generation Bullied 2.0: Prevention and Intervention Strategies for Our Most Vulnerable Students (edited by sj Miller, Leslie David Burns, Tara Star Johnson) identified the four descriptors that most often make students targets at the secondary level --

  • LGBT or nonconventional gender presentations,
  • Appearance, particularly body discrimination, sometimes called sizism,
  • Disabilities,
  • Ethnicity/diversity

None of these are the individual's choosing.

There are more ways people, from young children to the elderly, become targets and there will be more labels. Teaching respect must start very early and be reinforced 24/7/365 forever.


Latest Finds


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All I Want To Be Is Me Rothblatt, Phyllis, Createspace Independent Pub, 2011. (With beautiful illustrations and in rhythmic patterns that read most like a poem or song, Rothblatt writes from the point of view of several young people who want most to be accepted as they are. This simple book, gentle and accepting, implies the basic thought, “Why can’t I be accepted as me?” Though the characters are school age, All I Want To Be Is Me is accessible for all ages.


book cover How The Moon Regained Her Shape by Ben Hodson, 2006. Moon loves her work as each night she gets to glow. Bullied by the egotistical Sun, Moon fades so much that her friend, a comet, tells her to seek out Round Arms, an earth woman who will help her. As this is an original story, it cannot be categorized as folklore.


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Girl Rising: Changing The World One Girl At A Time by Tanya Lee Stone. Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House, 2017. After seeing the film, Girl Rising, Stone could not stop thinking of the journeys these girls had each taken after being sold into marriage by their families at ages too young, some at five years of age, to be legal. She contacted the film’s producers who were excited to share their research to enable her to create this nonfiction book.

In Nepal at the celebration that ends winter and celebrates the coming of Spring, parents know there will be Kamlari (a practice of bonded labor that has existed quietly for generations) brokers present to buy girls for their masters. The parents have come to believe that because of their extreme poverty this action will at least assure their daughters will be able to have food. One of her sources, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s Global Report Trafficking in Persons, 2014, provided the following statistics from 2011 (p 31):

Victims by gender and age –

  • 49% women, 18% men,
  • 21% girls and 18% boys

  Forms of Exploitation Among Trafficking Victims –

  • Forced Labor – 40%,
  • Sexual Slavery – 53%,
  • Other – 7%.

Stone tells the stories of several of these girls who have managed to escape or been rescued and were then able to attending school. The book is a masterpiece, combining the girls’ stories, incredible photography, and Stone’s sensitive and stirring narrative. It will be an award winner.

book cover The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

HarperCollins, 2016. This is how I kill someone. That is the opening line and the speaker is Alex, female, brilliant, and lonely. Her older sister was murdered, her father does not come home from business trips any more, and her mom lives in an alcoholic haze. The author does not waste any words on the trivial and each page keeps the reader locked in for the next page and the next and the next. To tell you more would be to give away too much. Just get it and read it!


book cover The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williams

FSG/MacMillan, 2014. Told in two voices, both outsiders. David Piper has a great family-a great set of parents and a little sister, Livvy, who idolizes him, but he just cannot tell them the secret he has kept for years, David knows he is a she. Leo Denton lives with his twin sister, a younger sister, and an irresponsible mom who drinks too much and brings home men who do the same. He is new to David's school having transferred from an inner city school where there was some trouble. It is not until Leo punches Harry, the bully, in the nose for harassing David that these two loners become friends.


book cover The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock

Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2016. Set in the 1970s in Alaska and told in the woven voices of Ruth (her father died in a plane crash, her mother gave birth the day to Lily the same day and has not been right since), Dora (she lives with a very abusive father until some kind neighbors rescue here), Alyce (plans to audition for a scholarship to become a dancer but first must spend the summer pulling in the day's catch on her dad's fishing boat), and Hank (the oldest of three brothers who are trying to escape from their drunk mother's abusive boyfriend.


book cover Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

HarperCollins, 2015. Alex names her bike Erwin, rides it to school and hides it in a bush as hers would be the only bike in the lot. Besides being the new kid in this public school, Alex is also trying to deal with her life and her delusions-she is schizophrenic. Alexandra Richmond is one of the gutsiest characters in YA Lit.


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