Welcome back, readers!
As we start the month of October, we are proud to offer reading recommendations for a very important month:
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
Bullying does not discriminate and it knows no boundaries. Anyone can be affected by bullying — men and women; adults, teens and children; people of different races, nationalities, and preferences. You may be bullied or you may one day discover that you are the bully. No one is completely safe from bullying.
When I was in middle school, I became a victim of cyber-bullying. (Of course, no one had coined that phrase back then.) I found myself being harassed by a classmate online. I was too meek and shy to say anything, though I was wise enough to save the conversations. Thankfully, my mother found them. She wasn’t mad at me for not telling her — she was concerned. We talked about bullying and how to be assertive. She contacted my school and they took measures to ensure I was safe.
Since bullying affects people of all ages, we are presenting several books this month in hope that they will inspire you to stand up for yourself, speak out for others, and believe that you are special just the way you are.
I am a firm believer that every person is wonderful, exactly the way they are. We shouldn’t spend time trying to conform to meet other’s approval. As long as we are happy with who we are, we can be happy. I am recommending this book for elementary students in hopes that they will learn at an early age to be proud of who they are.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, written by Maria Dismondy, tells the story of a one-of-a-kind girl named Lucy. With the help of her grandfather, Lucy is learning to embrace herself for the unique individual that she is. When she becomes the victim of unnecessary teasing and bullying, she remembers her grandfather’s words: “Remember, when you treat others with love and kindness, you are doing the right thing.”
If we can be proud of who we are, we can learn to turn the other cheek when we are teased. But there comes a point when we need to learn to be assertive — not only for ourselves, but others. Many students fall victim to passive bullying where they become a direct witness to bullying and choose to remain silent. Staying silent does not help anyone. Silence enables the bullying to continue. But if we can learn to be brave, we can muster the courage to stand up and say no — even for those who can’t do it for themselves.
Stargirl, written by Jerry Spinelli, is an award-winning book that has been inspiring audiences for years. When the homeschooled Stargirl arrives at a public school for the first time, she is unlike anything her classmates have ever seen. Her unconventional approach to life captures the attention of the school, particularly a boy named Leo. But soon, Stargirl is shunned for the very things that once made her popular. Leo cannot stand the torment and begs Stargirl to conform so the senseless bullying can come to an end. Someone has to stand up for Stargirl, but who?
No matter how old we get, bullying is still around us. We commonly hear from families that their students are dealing with high levels of anxiety due to bullying and peer pressure. With the added stress of cyberbulling, it can be easy to believe that the world is against you. Many people get angry or physical. But the real strength in these situations is believing in yourself and knowing the right ways to react. (It’s important to know the difference between being assertive — standing up for yourself — and aggressive — physically angry.) Eventually, we will know enough so that we can teach others.
The Bullying Workbook for Teens, written by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann and Julia V.Taylor, is part of a self-help series for teens. (Other topics include self-esteem, body image, depression, and self injury.) This workbook presents over 40 interactive exercises for teens to help them overcome and deal with bullying. Scenarios and follow up questions address identifying bullying, how to respond to it, and dealing with low self-esteem. The book asks teens to identify their individual responses to bullying — when they will respond or ignore it and how they will react when the situation becomes unsafe. An entire section of the book is dedicated to cyberbullying, which is becoming an increasing concern. This book is recommended for teens, parents, counselors, and more. If you find that your teen struggles doing this alone, find a mentor who can help. It’s worth the time.
Tip: If your child cannot read the words in the book, try alternating paragraphs, pages, or chapters. Help your child break down and pronounce words. Or, read the book aloud to your child. Remember, as you read aloud, your child learns fluency, rate, and inflection. It’s a great learning opportunity!
Bullying is a crisis. What starts as supposedly harmless taunting and teasing can have detrimental consequences on an unprepared person. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our friends to understand what bullying is and how to prevent it. We are all amazing individuals with wonderful gifts to offer. Do not let anyone bring you down.
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