In November 2010, I wrote a post called “Anti Bullying Starts in the First Grade” for my blog, Portrait of an Adoption. I was concerned because my daughter, Katie, was upset about being teased for carrying a Star Wars water bottle. Apparently, Star Wars was only “for boys.”
It was the post that launched a thousand Geeks. Comments poured in so fast that they crashed the entire Chicago Now server. Katie’s story appeared on international and national news shows. Radio talk shows had a field day with the story, and hundreds of bloggers wrote posts about the Star Wars teasing. A Facebook event was created in support of Geek Pride and Katie, and over thirty five thousand people participated. Feminists, Star Wars fans, adoptees, adoptive parents, former victims of teasing and bullying—all jumped to a young fan girl’s defense.
Why did the article strike such a responsive chord? Because in a time of heartbreaking headlines about cyberbullying, my child experienced a refreshing new phenomenon—a term I am calling “cybersupporting.” People were hungry for a bullying case that offered hope of a happy ending, and Katie’s situation became a Cinderella story. It was then that I embarked on a journey to research bullying in our culture.
Bullying has emerged as one of the biggest problems facing our nation’s schools to date, but this is largely due to increased awareness and sensitivity about the consequences of being victimized. The media has created a sense of urgency around bullying, and parents are desperate to protect their children. We are closely tracking bullying and taking steps to reduce aggressive acts. We are counting the victims. A 2010 study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 32 percent of students between the ages of twelve and eighteen reported being bullied within the six months prior to being surveyed. Of the students surveyed, 62 percent reported having been bullied once or twice a year, 21 percent once or twice a month, 10 percent once or twice a week, and 7 percent reported being bullied every day. The 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that about one in five teens had been bullied at school in the last year, with nearly half of middle school students being bullied.
Although far too many kids are victimized, the hopeful news for parents and educators is that some measures of bullying have actually dropped since 1999. Ron Astor, coauthor of the critically acclaimed book School Violence in Context: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender, told me, “Starting in 1994, many school violence measures began to drop and have continued to drop. But just because our research shows things have gotten better doesn’t mean it’s not still a very serious problem. And the subjective category of bullying has gone up.” It is hard to believe bullying is down in any form when we read heartbreaking reports of youths taking their own lives in response to peer victimization, a form of suicide known as bullycide. But, as Astor points out, schools are hard at work implementing social and emotional learning programs, and this work is paying off, which we must recognize so that parents and educators do not get discouraged and feel helpless to make a difference with bullying.
From the book BULLIED: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear by Carrie Goldman. Copyright C 2012 by Carrie Goldman. Reprinted by permission of HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
The card security code is an added safeguard for your credit/debit card purchases. Depending on the type of card you use, it is either a three- or four-digit number printed on the back or front of your credit/debit card, separate from your credit/debit card number. To make shopping at Children's Book-of-the-Month Club® even more secure, we require that you enter this number each time you make a credit/debit card purchase. Please note that your security code will not be stored with us even if you have saved your credit/debit card information.