Bullying. For some people, even the word can send a shiver down your spine, bring up horrible memories and make you feel like a defensively child. It affects both children and adults, it happens at school, home, online and in workplaces. Today, February 28th is Pink Shirt Day. A day to bring awareness to a problem that affects 1 in 5 children. A day to encourage everyone to practice kindness and wear pink to symbolize that you don’t tolerate bullying. But of course, it shouldn’t be for just one day, it should be for everyday.
I recently read two books on bullying that have really stuck with me. Excellent reads for 8-12 year olds, parents and educators.
Restart by Gordon Korman has quite a different take on the subject. Chase is a grade 8 student who falls off a roof and wakes up in the hospital with amnesia. He knows he’s Chase but doesn’t know who Chase is. He doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t know that he was great at sports and he doesn’t remember that he was a notorious bully. He gets the chance to essentially start over but it isn’t easy when the kids at school, especially the ones that were his victims, have trouble believing that he’s not the old Chase. He continues to have flashbacks of his old life and the things that he’s done. Now he has the chance to decide if he’ll go back to his old life or make amends and become a better person.
Posted by John David Anderson was also a very interesting read. Timely too, as many schools are looking at banning cell phones. That’s just what happens in Posted. When cell phones are banned at school, a group of middle grade friends develop a new way to communicate. They start leaving post-it notes on lockers with messages for each other. It catches on quickly and before they know it, there are colourful sticky notes all over the school. But sadly, the tone of the messages turn cruel and the notes are being used as an anonymous way for kids to bully each other. Now the school has a new problem on their hands. There were some wonderful passages in this book, my favourite of which was “Words accumulate. And once they’re free there’s no taking them back. You can do an awful lot of damage with a handful of words. You can destroy friendships. You can end a marriage. You can start a war. Some words can break you to pieces. But that’s not all. Words can be beautiful. They can make you feel things you’ve never felt before. Gather enough of them and sometimes they can stick those same pieces back together.”