Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: Please Stop Laughing at Us

In April, I wrote a review of Jodee Blanco's book Please Stop Laughing at Me. It is the type of book that stays with you long after the book has been returned to the shelf. I have been searching the book stores for a few weeks and I finally found a copy of Jodee Blanco's follow up project Please Stop Laughing at Us. (I know I could have bought it on line but I like book stores.) The book chronicles Jodee Blanco quest to stop school bullying.

Similar to her first book, I sat down and read the book start to finish. She discusses how her life changed after writing her first book. Jodee was asked to speak to school students, parents and educators. She became an advocate for children. The targets of bullying found a voice through Jodee. They flooded her with emails, letters and requests to meet in person. She traveled the country and school bullying was everywhere. The kids were suffering, the parents were suffering and the school administrators and teachers were suffering.

Jodee Blanco walks into schools and tells her story. It is brutally honest and inspires change. Her presentations convey how it feels to be the target of bullying and the long term affects. She offers survival suggestions for Students, Parents, Educators and Adult Survivors.

Jodee Blanco's website is full of useful information. The following links are survival tips from her website.

Survival Tips for Students

Survival Tips for Parents

Survival Tips for Educators

Tips for Adult Survivors

This book is for everyone. It is a wake up call!

My personal wake up call was a phone call I received from my daughters school nurse during third grade. The nurse called me to let me know that my daughter was in the office again with a stomach ache. I will be forever grateful to the school nurse who really listened to my daughter. The nurse told me that my then eight year old daughter confided in her and said:

"Kids have been mean since the first grade. Now that they are older, the kids are finding new ways to be mean."

School bullying has to stop.


John W. Zimmer said...

Hi Michele,

While I think being supportive to one's kids is certainly part of the solution - I have always steered clear using "progressive" methods like this book suggests.

If a parent has a child that is bullied at school I would say the parents have a couple of responsibilities.

1. Go to the school and demand they take care of the bullying issue as your child is under their care. Let them know you will be pursuing legal action if they do not do their duty. This should take care of any one bully continuing to threaten your child. Let them know that you are giving your child permission to use self-defense as is his or her legal right in the U.S., regardless of what a school policy might be.

2. Teach your child how to defend him/herself... if you are unqualified - find a boxing or martial arts school.

I have problems with statements like this from the parents section, "First, it’s important to remember that if your child is the bully, it’s not because he or she is bad. There’s no such thing as a bad kid."

Ok - If the blame does not rest with the bully - who should be corrected? Therapy might work but if it does - it is a long process.

Your kid only has you to go to bat for him/her in life until adulthood.

I was bullied as a kid, afraid to stand up for myself. My mom and dad finely had to take me aside and tell me that if someone messes with you - fight back! I responded I did not know how to fight.

My dad took me out back and taught me the ol one-two punch (jab-cross). The school did not like it but I started fighting back when bullies messed with me and did ok at school after that.

I've written several posts about bullying - here is one link:

This is an important topic and again - while I would not use the approach this author advocates - it probably can part of any solution. Bullying is one of the hardest things any child will face in life.

Meg said...

I find this extremely timely, especially in light of the phone calls we've received this past week. I'll have to go out and get the book now. I think A will get something out of it too.

Thank you!

Michele said...

Hi John,

I was hoping you would stop by and comment on this post. I believe that Jodee Blanco has brought attention to a very complex and important topic. Her books are useful because they show the far reaching impact of bullying. Behaviors that some people brush off as "it's just kids being kids" are exposed as bullying.

That being said, I must admit that as I was reading through the book I kept expecting a chapter on self-defense. Unfortunately, self-defense and martial arts were barely mentioned. These are some of my many questions:

"What about self-defense?"
"What age should children learn self-defense?"
"How do schools view self-defense?"
"Do parents advocate having their child learn self-defense?"
"Do anti-bullying programs in the school system promote self-defense?"

As a parent and martial arts instructor, I agree with your two points. I wonder how many parents feel the same way.

My husband and I teach our daughter self-defense. We told the Principal that she has our permission to use self defense.

Such a difficult topic...

Michele said...

Meg: Thanks for commenting. I would recommend that read "Please Stop Laughing at Me" first.

I hope the late night phone calls stopped.