By Debra Kirby
When my oldest daughter, now a middle school teacher, brought home her first essay, it was on the subject of bullying. She wrote it after reading Judy Blume’s Blubber for a school assignment. The essay, which I still have, provided a preview of what a kind, compassionate person and awesome teacher she would one day become. As the 10th anniversary of National Bullying Prevention Month approaches this October, I thought I’d do a little research on the subject, which was never the focus of national attention when I was a student. It’s only in relatively recent years that bullying has been commonly recognized as something other than a “natural part of growing up” or rite of passage.
To learn about bullying and efforts to prevent it, there’s no better place to start than with Gale databases, which feature authoritative, comprehensive information on all aspects of bullying. Students of all ages can learn more from Kids InfoBits and Research In Context (designed for K-5 through middle school students) and Student Resources In Context and Opposing Viewpoints In Context (intended for high school and beyond).
Did you know, for example, that:
- A 2009 CDC study found and subsequent studies have confirmed that approximately 20 percent of all high school students report having been bullied during the previous year, with girls more likely than boys to be victims.
- Cyberbullying, a form of bullying carried out via electronic device and social media, affects even more children. Recent studies show more than a third of all students between the ages of 12 and 17 report being victimized.
- Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities are three times more likely to experience cyberbullying than their non-LGBT peers.
- No federal law directly addresses bullying, although federal harassment laws can apply if bullying involves prejudice based on race, sex, disability, or religion.
- According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, as of January 2016, all fifty states plus Washington, DC, had anti-bullying legislation; however, only twenty-four states included cyberbullying in these laws. Anti-bullying laws in forty-eight states plus Washington, DC, however, did include information about electronic harassment.
Fictional works can also be effective teachers, with the ability to help readers develop a more personal, empathetic understanding of any topic. Gale’s Books and Authors database is the perfect tool for finding a story on bullying that will, like Judy Blume’s Blubber did for my daughter, entertain as well as instruct. The following fictional titles are a few favorites suggested by a colleague with an enduring passion for YA literature:Wonder, R.J. Palacio
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Meg Medina
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
Freak Show, James St. James
Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
And of course, Blubber, Judy Blume
- What books would you add to this list?
- Have you ever been a victim of bullying? How did you handle it? How did the adults in your life handle it?
- Have you ever stopped or helped stop a bully? Advised or comforted a victim of bullying? How successful were your efforts?
- Has your awareness and understanding of bullying changed in recent years?
- What impact has social media had on bullying and bullying prevention and awareness?
- One area some feel is still largely unaddressed in anti-bullying discussions and efforts is sexism and sexual harassment of girls and women. Do you agree? Why do you think this is?