Hey YA Authors, Publishers & Bloggers! Let’s Do Something To Stamp Out Bullying!!

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I’ve blogged about bullying before. I’m going to do it again. I’ll continue to blog about bullying because tragedies like this continue to happen.

It  infuriates me that it takes yet another kid ending his/her life to get politicians talking. To get all of us talking. Here in Canada, our federal government is talking about it. Unfortunately, we didn’t talk loud enough in the past to stop the people who bullied Amanda Todd and we didn’t do enough for Amanda to know that she’s not alone. That people out there give a shit about kids like her.

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I don’t have any answers to this other than to say that we can and must do more to let bullied kids know that help is out there and that we care about them, we worry about them, we want the bullying to stop.

As an author of both adult and young adult novels, I’ve been scratching my head over the past few days since I first learned about Amanda Todd’s suicide. I wonder if there’s something that YA publishers can to to help … like, maybe a list of links (in our books? blogs?) to websites and resources that can help kids who are bullied. (Feel free to shoot this down if you think it’s a lame idea.)

Or maybe just a small symbol of solidarity. Something that kids could easily recognize as being a sign that they’re not alone and that people truly do care about them.

Above  are some jpeg’s that I made this past weekend. I’m posting them on my blog for other YA authors and publishers and bloggers who love YA to maybe post on their blogs and websites and Facebook pages. Maybe if a symbol like this could make its way onto the spine of a YA novel – of every YA novel (yeah, I’m ambitious but it’s an idea, right?) then we’re all speaking with one voice. We’re all saying that bullying is socially unacceptable and young people like Amanda Todd should know that hundreds, thousands, millions of us give a shit about them and we’re putting our stamp on it.

For me, I’m beginning to post links on a new page with resources and support services for kids who are victims of bullying. I’m going to use my little stamp I created as the icon and I’d encourage others who support this idea to do the same.

Imagine if all us who write, publish and are fans of YA fiction got together to stamp out bullying. Imagine if a small symbol like the one I’ve created started popping up everywhere. Imagine if bullied kids saw that symbol and knew what it meant?

Bullying needs to stop … now. I hope YA authors, publishers, bloggers and fans start talking about it. Maybe together we can do something. Maybe together we can let bullied kids know that people give a damn about them and they are never alone.

UPDATE: I’ve started a Facebook Page for this as well.

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It’s out there … it’s always been out there.

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I dislike the term “bullying”, but I can’t really think of a better word to describe it. Maybe “slamming” or “harassment”. Actually, scratch that. Bullying ain’t harassment – it’s something more insidious and dark because while young people (and in many cases, adults) experience bullying at least once in their lives there’s a social aspect to the whole thing that takes an occurrence in the hallways of schools all over the world and makes it that much worse. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure who is worse: the bully himself/herself, or the silent knowing mass of people who see it every day and do nothing to stop it. This of course begs the question: can bullying be stopped?

I suppose it depends on whether or not you believe in the power of shame: not for the victim of bullying because he/she is in their own private hell and shame is a big part of that, but rather, shaming the perpetrator. Let’s just say that we have to somehow turn bullying into socially unacceptable behavior because while we may not be able to stop the bullies in their tracks, it might be possible to create a climate in the schoolyards and locker rooms that says bullying won’t be tolerated. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.

You see, it’s in the news lately – or rather, the tragic consequences of bullying. It’s a damned shame that it takes the suicide of a kid to bring public attention to something that every single one of us knows exists because it existed when we were kids. I’m forty-four, I got bullied. My mother is seventy-eight, it happened in her day too. It’ll still be happening a hundred years from now, but what makes bullying for today’s generation of kids so fucking insidious (yeah, I swear when I get pissed off) is that it has gone viral. It’s no longer limited to the physical space of a schoolyard or locker room. It’s on Facebook and YouTube now. It’s out there because our technology allows it to be put out there for all to see. Today’s bullying represents a perfect storm for the perpetrator too, I think, because there are special needs kids in classrooms, unheard of in my day, you simply didn’t see a kid in a wheelchair in the 1970’s at school. It just didn’t happen. Moreover, there weren’t openly gay kids in school when I was young. There were no GLBT alliances or clubs at school. Gay rights was just a faint blip on the public consciousness radar.

Yes, it is a perfect storm and I think that adults don’t get it because the kind of bullying we might have experienced doesn’t even come close to what is happening now. It shouldn’t take a gay kid’s suicide or the suicide of a kid with muscular dystrophy to raise awareness of an issue we’ve always known was there. And I hate the term “raising awareness” – we shouldn’t have to raise awareness of an issue we’re all aware of. We just need to make it stop. If it can be stopped. Can it be stopped?

I don’t have the answers, but I think we have to do with bullying what we’ve done with cigarette smoking, you know? Make it socially unacceptable. This is going to take time and it isn’t going to have immediate effect. But it’s a start.  You know, as a writer, this is a subject I’ve long wanted to tackle. It’s going to feature prominently in my follow-up to POLTERGEEKS. I’m not going to try to make a statement about bullying in the book, I’m not qualified to do that, frankly. I just want to put it out there … for discussion. And maybe that’s where we all need to start… we, meaning the adults of the world. To start talking about it. It’s the deep, dark secret that just so happens to be the worst kept secret in the world because we’ve all seen it in our own lives. We all know how bloody awkward, embarrassing, clunky and at times, impossible it is to be a teenager because we once were teenagers. We need to talk to our kids about it. We need to talk to our schools about it. We need to do a lot of things about it and the question now comes to mind: what are we as adults and parents going to do about it?

It’s hard to be different. Every kid feels different. I have a motto, though – different is better. Right now anything is better than what’s happening in our schools and another kid’s suicide because of bullying will mean that we as adults blew it.

So let’s not fucking blow it.

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