Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found this book very balanced and informative. The author chose 3 very good examples of bullying to study in depth. The children's stories were compelling and Brazlon did not follow the general practice of demonizing the bullies and sanctifying the bullied. She also did not fall into the trap of making the schools the culprit either. In some cases, the school was insensitive, but in general, they were doing the best they could to tackle the problem.
This is a very complex problem and there are not any easy answers. Brazelon did address one part of the problem that I have never seen in print. There is a left over problem from the fuzzy-headed thinking of the past 30 years which sanctifies children..."Let the children teach us." "Listen to the wisdom of the children." "My children are my heroes." Children are essentially selfish when they come into the world and they have to be taught how to care about others. Scores of instructions from my childhood come back to me: "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" "What if everyone did that?" "Just because so and so does that, do you have to?" "Either the girl is your friend and you are loyal to her, or you have to stop hanging out with her until someone better comes around." All those examples are what our parents and teachers tried to teach us, knowing that it does not come naturally to put others needs before our own. Children need to be taught to be empathetic and altruistic. They don't always come by it naturally. It is the job of the parents, but if they don't do it then the schools have to step in. It makes me cringe to add another burden to the schools, but it has to be done.
In the final chapters, Bazelon gives information on several programs which have worked and pages of resources. The book is an excellent resource for anyone who has to deal with children as well as anyone who just wants to understand the problem and be a part of the solution.
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