Miller, sj., Leslie David Burns, and Tara Star Johnson. “Generation Bullied 2.0: Prevention and Intervention Strategies for Our Most Vulnerable Students”, Peter Lang Publishing Inc, 2013.
Looking at Bullying
Bullying among our youth has always been a part of growing up but now it is taken very seriously as we realize more and more the harm it causes. With the advent of the internet we have become more aware of issues that we certainly know have always existed and we even get cyber-bullying. In all of its forms, it has become a major social problem that harms our youngsters, destroys self-esteem and self-confidence and has disastrous effects. It is not just the targets of bullying that suffer, we all do. It affects growth, learning and success and deprives both the bully and the bullied of environments of peaceful existence. Of late, we all have seen how bullying has become such a negative force in schools today with the result being that they have become not havens of education and social interaction but a place that many of our kids fear. Miller, Burns and Johnson look at bullying in great detail and provide strategies for once again making our schools safe by showing how we can build and work within the system to ensure that learning, safety and dignity for everyone is available.
We have recently experienced a period in history in which several lives have been cut short as a result of bullying; now we have reached the point that we can no longer sit back and let this continue. We have paid a tremendous price in reaching this point and the authors do not want us to ever go through this again. They provide a wonderful and in-depth analysis of what is wrong with the current anti-bullying practices and shows us the inadequacies in them. We see that this is not an issue that can be dealt with on individual bases and we see that, as Hillary Clinton, has said, “It takes a village” of all of us working together to find ways that our children’s lives are no longer in danger. Stereotyping and other negative behaviors have become not only evident but are reinforced and continue in today’s schools in a variety of ways. We are given narratives of those who are bullied and they are bullied daily in the schools of this country. The focus here is on the more common targets of bullies— gender, sexual orientation, race, physical appearance, disabilities (both physical and mental) and cyber-abuse. There are no simple solutions and none are given. Instead we learn how to empower us by giving us ways to raise social justice thereby preventing bullying from becoming a part of the way our kids have to deal with while at school and/or as part of society.
Bullying has become an epidemic in this country. The book not only explains the causes of bullying and ways to combat it but it does so while it issues a call to action. The book consists of writings by scholars and those who give analysis and sights about bullying. In this way we see the various forms that bullying takes and how it overlaps; we read of students’ experiences and we see what is being done and can be done within our school systems to make him inclusive and safe. No child should ever be afraid to go to school.
The stories that we read here should be a wake-up call. Yet we must never lose sight of the fact that bullying is an issue in not just the schools but it has permeated society at every level. The schools have provided a place for bullying to grow from seed to plant but that plant extends it branches to almost every level of society. As our bullied students leave school and enter society and the workplace they bring with them the scars of having been bullied. Likewise the bullies take what they have done and transfer it to other locations.
Diversity gives us a place where bullying can begin and although great strides have been made in terms of acceptance of “the other”, our youth still has to deal individually and as a member of a group with who he/she is. If we remember how it was when we were growing up we are reminded that is not easy. In many schools today students are harassed about gender and sexual identity and in too many of these schools, nothing is done about it. This is what must come to an end and not just in schools, but also in the larger society. All of us have obligations to stop this and the way to do so is a kind of transformation ridding the schools of all the opinions about sexual orientation, gender, race and so on—eliminating any of the processes to provide fodder to allowing bullying to exist.
As a former secondary school teacher and college instructor, I have seen bullying all my life and as a gay man I have been the object of it many times yet I have learned to deal with it and this is what we want everyone to be able to do—but rather than deal with it, we want to eliminate it altogether.
We hear from the bullied and the bully in every chapter here and the writers consider the effects of bullying on both. For me the strong points of the book are the definition of key terms that are associated with bullying, the information that we are given about those groups that are the targeted by bullies and the information of what is happening legislatively about the issue. On each of these we are given the facts and then strategies are provided for both prevention and intervention. We must be ready to become more aware and sensitive to bullying and this book is an ideal place to start. Since cyber-bullying is relatively new, we must find ways to educate ourselves about it and how to deal with it.
Stating the issue plainly and simply—bullying affects every area of our lives. It is society that must he held accountable just as those individuals who are the bullies. While this text is written by scholars, it is accessible and readable for all. It challenges us to bring about change and provides hope for us all that in the future bullying will cease being part of the way we live.