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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bullying Under Attack - Stephanie Meyer, John Meyer, Emily Sperber, Heather Alexander, et al.

Release Date - September 2013

Teen Ink

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Bullying Under Attack is a collection of poems and essays written by teens who are bullied, are bullies, or witness bullying and don't take action. It's a powerful collection. One that starts with a foreward by John Halligan. I live just two towns over from Essex Junction, so I remember the news stories about Mr. Halligan's son. It lead to huge changes on some school's responses towards bullying. I'd love to say every school improved, but that's not the case.

There are stories that really tugged at my heart. To the girl who said she can't wait until she's out of high school because bullying doesn't happen in the real world. I feel for her because she's soon going to learn a big lesson. Bullying may ease once you're out of school, but it never goes away. One of my darkest days came when my boss at a travel agent told me not to mess up a sale and to do whatever the client asked. I did and he immediately came to the office screaming, spit flying with his rage, and called me a "stupid blonde" repeatedly, all because the client told me he'd promised them something that he apparently hadn't, but he'd said to do whatever it took to get the sale, so I did and was apparently wrong. For weeks, any interactions with him involved him calling me "stupid" or "dumb" blonde. In the end, the pay wasn't worth his verbal abuse, so I quit.

To the boys and girls who suffer because of their sexual preference. Just remember that for every jerk, there is someone who doesn't care. My own teen daughter has defended so many gays at her school that she's been picked on for her actions. She doesn't care, and if you were in her school and she saw it, she'd be first in line to jump to your defense.

I've seen bullying from many sides. I've been the teen being tormented. I've been the bystander. Sadly, I've even been the bully, egged on by peers that I desperately wanted as friends. All of these lessons were handed down to my kids, who have also been bullied. I was the helpless parent watching my daughter and over a dozen other kids get suspended in the new zero-tolerance world, only to have the accuser months later admit he lied to get attention. Those kids who dealt with suspensions received failing grades for all three days, were not allowed to make classwork back up even after the kid admitted he'd made it up, and were ridiculed by peers as being bullies for months until the kid fessed up.

There is no perfect solution, and it's something I truly wish would change. Reading a variety of teen experiences in Bullying Under Attack is proof that times are changing, but there's still a long way to go.

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