Being a teenager has never been easy, but in recent years, with the rise of the Internet and social media, it has become exponentially more challenging. Bullying, once thought of as the province of queen bees and goons, has taken on new, complex, and insidious forms, as parents and educators know all too well.
No author is better poised to explore this territory than Emily Bazelon, who has established herself as a leading voice on the social and legal aspects of teenage drama. In Sticks and Stones, she brings listeners on a deeply researched, clear-eyed journey into the ever-shifting landscape of teenage meanness and its sometimes devastating consequences. The result is an indispensable book that takes us from school cafeterias to courtrooms to the offices of Facebook - the website where so much teenage life, good and bad, now unfolds.
Along the way, Bazelon defines what bullying is and, just as important, what it is not. She explores when intervention is essential and when kids should be given the freedom to fend for themselves. She also dispels persistent myths: that girls bully more than boys, that online and in-person bullying are entirely distinct, that bullying is a common cause of suicide, and that harsh criminal penalties are an effective deterrent. Above all, she believes that to deal with the problem, we must first understand it.
Blending keen journalistic and narrative skills, Bazelon explores different facets of bullying through the stories of three young people who found themselves caught in the thick of it. Thirteen-year-old Monique endured months of harassment and exclusion before her mother finally pulled her out of school. Jacob was threatened and physically attacked over his sexuality in eighth grade - and then sued to protect himself and change the culture of his school. Flannery was one of six teens who faced criminal charges after a fellow student’s suicide was blamed on bullying and made international headlines. With grace and authority, Bazelon chronicles how these kids’ predicaments escalated, to no one’s benefit, into community-wide wars. Cutting through the noise, misinformation, and sensationalism, she takes us into schools that have succeeded in reducing bullying and examines their successful strategies. The result is a groundbreaking book that will help parents, educators, and teens themselves better understand what kids are going through today and what can be done to help them through it.
©2013 Random House Audio; 2013 Emily Bazelon
“Thoughtful and moving, incisive and provocative, Sticks and Stones is essential reading for any educator trying to negotiate the minefield of bullying. Packed with valuable advice, the book brings a welcome dose of sanity to an often overheated national discussion.”(Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed)
“Beautifully written and tenaciously reported, Sticks and Stones is a serious, important book that reads like a page-turner. Emily Bazelon is a gifted writer, and this powerful work is sure to place childhood bullying at the heart of the national conversation - right where it belongs.” (Susan Cain, author of Quiet)
“Emily Bazelon is doing the most honest, hard-hitting investigative work on bullying in America today. Sticks and Stones is a page-turner, combining compelling personal stories, rigorous reporting and practical advice for parents and educators. Read it: It’s essential.” (Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out)
Yes, Emily's insights on the changing impact of bullying on teens in the digital age, where there is no escape from their tormentors, reveal much about the challenges that the current generation of teens and parents are facing.
Emily's own account of being "fired" by her friends as a teen and how that affected her.
When the author confronted Facebook about a page that had been reported to them as abusive but about which they had taken no action.
That the teens that faced criminal charges related to the bullying and subsequent suicide of Phoebe Prince ended up facing very limited legal consequences.
An excellent read by an excellent author. 5 Stars.
The book looks at different aspects of bullying, from the effects on sensitive kids who are relentlessly bullied to the perspective of the kids accused of bullying. There is so much grey area in this topic that's often considered black and white. As a person who was bullied as a kid I found the different perspectives and the discussion of the research on bullying to be very interesting and even empowering. The stories were compelling and interesting and gave me hope and ideas for how to deal with this when my toddlers reach this age.
I am a fan of Bazelon and Slates "gabfests". Her book is clearly an extension of her diligence and compassion, and the drive to find out why kids bully each other the the point of suicide in some cases. She looks at the standards for managing bullying and clearly has questions (zero tolerance) and hope (methods adapted from a Scandanavian expert). The case studies she uses are told in careful depth, so you understand the source and nuance of the bullied and well as the bullies. The frequent absent grace is empathy, of course, as is demonstrated each episode.
For my taste, I would rather have the thesis and logic presented up front, so I could better understand where the narrative is going. Rather, you have to follow her through each case and understand her conclusion inductively.
I am also acutely aware of how this is framed, as a lawyer would. I think an alternative framing more as a sociologist or anthropologist would. Social dominance is frequent in many species, including our own. Dominance-based aggression is normal in peer groups, particularly adolescents. Normally, things sort themselves out by people forming into groups and the groups lining up on some social hierarchy.The story might be about situations in which the amount of aggression is abnormal or dangerous. People who wish to belong to a group, but no group will have? People who appear to be socially climbing without going through expected loyalty rituals?
It would have been clearer in that frame - to acknowledge that some amount of bullying is part of the norm - like it or not - and that we learn life lessons from it. There is abnormal bullying which leaves permanent scars - how do we predict that and prevent it?
Though I was involved in the book, I did occasionally bark that it would be so much better if I had a roadmap of where this is going, and perhaps a little less inductive framing.
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No. I was listening imagining how this narrative would work if the setting was a home rather than a school -- criminal behavior should not be treated as such inside a school --bullies if caught have aftermaths and hurt too -- what about the anguish of the bully's parent's -- who knows if the anguish and suicide of victims is caused by bullying when the victims are chosen by their vulnerability -- doesn't it make bullying worse when helpless people are selected by bullies?
The pain of people targeted by bullying will be made more intense by this book. Bullies and their parents are unlikely to read it. I would have liked to think that we as a society had risen above such thinking.
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