Many, if not most, children are often either the target of bullying or are bystanders of this behavior. According to the U.S Department of Education and Justice, 37% of middle school students report being victims of bullying (Studer & Mynatt, 2015). While studies have shown that bullying can start as early as preschool age (Oppliger & Davis, 2015), the majority of bullying occurs in middle school through high school. Many instances of bullying are not reported, however, as students either are reluctant to confide in an adult or feel their experiences will not be taken seriously by teachers or other adults. Children are bullied for many reasons–being different, tall, short, new in school, considered a geek or nerd, or because of a physical disability. There are various types of bullying: verbal, physical, and through texting or the internet, called “cyber-bullying.” This last type is especially harmful because once on the internet, the experience can be relived, whereas traditional bullying occurs in real time (Studer & Mynatt, 2015, p. 27).
While there are many reasons for this aggressive behavior (attention-seeking behavior, perhaps the bully is being treated this way at home, etc.), victims often do not know how to effectively cope with this. Bullying behavior results in low self-esteem, low grades, and an overall feeling of dread in attending school or participating in activities for those who are bullied. This behavior affects everyone: whether you are a bully, a victim, or bystander, all are impacted (Studer & Mynatt, 2015, p. 26). Schools and libraries are taking steps to prevent these incidents, but they cannot realistically stop every one. Children, young adults, and caregivers need to quip themselves with the information to have honest conversations about this issue. The list that follows can be used as a starting point for middle school children and their parents to gather the information and tools to cope with and/or prevent this type of behavior.
Bullying: What are the many ways kids bully, and how can you respond?
Bullying can be physical, emotional, or both, and can make you feel sad or bad. It can take the form of rumors, laughter, teasing, and inappropriate written messages (both on paper and on the internet/online). Many children are bullied, which can affect self-esteem, confidence, and grades.
Do you know someone who is being picked on often at school by a person or group of people? Sometimes it is difficult to stop a bully, even though we know it’s wrong. What can you do to stop this behavior and help someone cope?
[Image courtesy of Google]
Listed below are some books, websites, podcasts, and DVD’s for children in Grades 4-8 that will help children and their caregivers learn more about this topic here at the Fort Washington Library (NYPL) and online.
Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig. Illustrated by Beth Adams, 2010. Dragonfly Books. 48p.
After getting sent to the Principal’s office again after being mean to her classmate, ten-year-old Katie decides to stop being a bully. She does this by writing a journal, and is helped by her school counselor. Together they identify bullying in all its forms, and teach the tools to empower kids to stand up for themselves (such as walking away, turn an insult into a compliment, or changing the subject). Topics such as cyberbullying are talked about, and what to do if you are a bystander. Included is a cool ‘friendship chart,’ to help kids how to be better friends. As Katie says, she can’t change what she did in the past, but she can change what she does from now on.
The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen by Aija Mayrock, 2015. Scholastic Press. 160p.
When Aija Mayrock was a teenager she decided to write a book, what she terms a “powerful survival guide” for kids going through similar situations with bullies. She understands that sometimes it is difficult to talk to an adult or teacher about what is happening, although she recommends doing just that. Mayrock’s empowering “roems” (rap poems) are written on notebook style paper that explain the types of bullying, why kids bully, and how to survive. One way is to have a creative outlet, such as writing, music, art, or sports. She offers excellent tips on finding help and encouraging positive thinking in an authentic voice.
Bullies are a Pain in the Brain written and illustrated by Trevor Romain, 1997. Free Spirit Publishing. 104p.
If you are looking for a relatively quick read and funny book about why bullies act the way they do, or figuring out if you are a bully, then this is the book for you. This charming book uses cartoon to define what bullies are and offers practical solutions for those being bullied such as staying calm, walking away with confidence, finding your strengths, learning self-defense, and simply making friends and appearing positive and friendly. Includes message to parents and teachers, as well as resources for students.
Cyberbullying by Lucia Raatma, 2013. Scholastic/Children’s Press. 48p.
Has anyone ever sent a mean text message to you? Have you been embarrassed by someone over the internet, such as on a social media site? This book will address why this happens, why it is very serious, and how to handle it. Recommended for 6th grade and up.
The Loser List by H.N.Kowitt, 2011. Scholastic (Available in print and E-Book)
In this first book of the series about Danny Shine, seventh grader Danny finds out that he and his best friend Jasper have been put on the “loser list” in the girls bathroom. By trying to remove their names, Danny is sent to detention where he meets the Skulls (school bad guys) and impresses them with his art skills. Hanging out with the bad kids changes Danny and affects his friendship with Jasper and the local comic bookstore owner. This fun story is told with humorous line drawings that will appeal to comic book fans to show readers what can happen when you try to fit in with the wrong crowd.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, 1944. Harcourt. 81 p.
This Newbery Honor book remains a beloved classic about Wanda Petronski, the new girl in school from a different country, with an unusual last name, trying to find her place in school. Wanda wears the same dress to school every day, but claims she has a hundred dressed at home hanging in her closet. Wanda’s classmates don’t believe her, especially Peggy and Maddie, and their laughter and taunting result in Wanda leaving school. The story is told from Maddie’s point of view, and Maddie doesn’t feel good about laughing at Wanda and not defending her. After discovering what Wanda has created for them, despite their being mean, do the girls realize that their behavior was wrong.
Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, 2016. Scholastic Press. 216p.
It’s the first week of school at Albert Einstein Elementary School in Hamilton, NJ. Ravi has just moved from India and wants to fit in, especially with the popular boy, Dillon, who is an ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi). Ravi’s last name, unusual manner of dressing, and food choices make him stand out. Joe is a quiet boy who struggles with an auditory disorder, making it hard for him to concentrate sometimes around loud noises. While each boy winds up being picked on by Dillon (the class bully), they soon realize that they are meant to be friends. This book tackles issues of culture, fitting in, and friendship in a humorous way and is told from both Ravi and Joe’s point of view. Includes glossaries for Hindi and American terms.
Wonder by R.J.Palacio, 2012. Alfred A. Knopf. 315p.
An inspiring and funny book about a boy named August (Auggie) Pullman. Auggie has been home schooled his whole life due to having many surgeries because of a facial deformity, and he is finally entering fifth grade at a school near home. Auggie knows he looks different and is used to being treated differently, but he feels like any other kid. In school Auggie has to deal with bullying but he stays strong and true to himself. The story’s message is powerful: kids should stand up for themselves and face their fears. Recommended for fifth grade and up.
NPR: Teen Creates App So Bullied Kids Never Have to Eat Alone called Sit with Us.
Interview Available at http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/09/15/494074992/teen-creates-app-so-bullied-kids-never-have-to-eat-alone
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton is an 11th-grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit with Us. It is a free lunch planning app so kids can host kids who don’t have a table to go to. Natalie wanted to help others who may be the same situation she was in. Running time: 3:14.
Kind Campaign available at https://www.kindcampaign.com
Created by two women who were affected by female bullying in their youth, their mission is to bring awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl bullying with an outlet for girls to express themselves with activities on the site. Girls are encouraged to create “kind clubs” at their schools (run by an adult mentor) to promote safe spaces to create strong friendships.
PBS Kids: It’s My Life available at http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/friends/bullies/
This is a great site for kids about various topics (Friends, Family, School, Body, Emotions, and Money) led by experts in their fields that includes information on bullying. Offers blogs, games, videos, and other fun ways to deal with the every-day issues tweens and teens face.
DIGITAL RESOURCES FOR PARENTS & CAREGIVERS
NPR: Stories about Bullying [http://www.npr.org/tags/135628597/bullying]
Provides several stories and audio interviews on issues related to bullying including children with autism being targeted by bullies and the repercussions that bullying has on its victims later in life.
The Ophelia Project available at http://www.opheliaproject.org/links.html
An organization dedicated to raising awareness of the social issues children face today through speaking engagements, conferences, and advocacy. This site includes excellent links to an anti-bullying YouTube videos, and information on issues such as cyberbullying, school safety, and youth empowerment.
Cyberbullying: What is it and what can you do? Available at https://www.phoenix-society.org/resources/entry/cyber-bullying
The Phoenix Society is an organization dedicated to burn survivors. They include a page about what cobbling is and the various ways it can occur, and strategies to protect oneself. Included are resources to help children and young adults stay safe in the digital age.
ALSC Blog available at http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2012/01/words-can-hurt-books-can-help/
ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) has a great blog that provides timely information on bullying for adults and introduces adults to the No Name-Calling Week with events organized across the country during the week of January 16- 20th.
Stop Picking on Me! Produced by Mazzarella Media. Distributed by Wonderscape Entertainment (2014). Running time: 13 minutes
This fairly short program teaches children using cartoons and real-life scenarios how to tell someone to stop picking on them. Children learn the various methods of responding such as ignoring the bully or walking away, using words to stand up for oneself, showing confidence, working together with fellow classmates/friends to stand up to the bully, and asking for help from a trustworthy adult. Questions posed to viewers are interspersed following each scenario for further reflection and discussion.
Here is a sampling of Stop Picking on Me! From You Tube:
Don’t Call Me Names! Produced by Mazzarella Media. Distributed by Wonderscape Entertainment (2015). Running time: approx.13 minutes
Using cartoons and real-life scenarios as the example above, this program is great for parents to have a dialogue with children around the subject of hurtful name-calling, ways to stop the name-calling, and what to do if the person does not stop. It also explains the steps to take if a friend calls you by a nickname you do not like.
Here is a sampling of Don’t Call Me Names! From You Tube:
Estes, E. (1944). The hundred dresses. New York, NY: Harcourt. Horn Book Review by Roger Sutton retrieved from EBSCO database: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=13&sid=250fa7b5-d2b2-4bb1-9fd5-33c2619051a8%40sessionmgr4010&hid=4114
Kowitt, H.N. (2011). The loser list. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. Booklist Review retrieved from https://www.booklistonline.com/The-Loser-List-H-N-Kowitt/pid=4491816
Ludwig, T. (2010). Confessions of a former bully. New York, NY: Dragonfly Books. Booklist review by Carolyn Phelan retrieved from EBSCO database: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=12&sid=144f5d3a-edcb-427f-858d-dab42604a18f%40sessionmgr4006&hid=4212
Mayrock, A. (2015). The survival guide to bullying: Written by a teen. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. Review retrieved from Booklist: https://www.booklistonline.com/The-Survival-Guide-to-Bullying-Aija-Mayrock/pid=7604668
Maughan, S. (2012). Bullying Resources: A Selected Listing. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/54460-bullying-resources-a-selected-listing.html
NPR Staff. (2016, September 15). The salt: What’s on your plate. National Public Radio. Podcast retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/09/15/494074992/teen-creates-app-so-bullied-kids-never-have-to-eat-alone
Oppliger, P.A. & Davis, A. (2015). Portrayals of bullying: A content analysis of picture books for preschoolers. Journal of Early Childhood Education 44, 515-526.
Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder. Review retrieved from blog by Elizabeth Bird: http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2012/02/21/review-of-the-day-wonder-by-r-j-palacio/#_
Raatma, L. (2012). Cyberbullying. New York, NY: Scholastic/Children’s Press.
Romain, T. (1997). Bullies are a pain in the brain. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. School Library Journal review retrieved from EBSCO database: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=5&sid=9c31ce50-10c4-46df-80ba-55683e2b4890%40sessionmgr104
Studer, J.R. & Mynatt, B.S. (2015). Bullying prevention in middle schools: A collaborative approach. Middle School Journal 46 (3), 25-32.
Weeks, S. & Varadarajan, G. (2016). Save me a seat. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. Review retrieved from Kirkus: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sarah-weeks/save-me-a-seat/ and interview with authors retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2016/05/interviews/staying-in-touch-with-their-inner-tween-sarah-weeks-and-gita-varadarajan-on-save-me-a-seat/