13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Clear-eyed assessment, and serious ideas for a way forward.,
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This review is from: Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Hardcover)It's often said in reviews that a book will "start a conversation" about its topic, but in this case, the conversation has been ongoing for well over a decade -- it simply hasn't been getting anywhere. Everyone has ideas about bullying, but many of these ideas are merely the prejudices of pop culture, or wild generalizations from their own experiences or their children's. Many are reductive, black-and-white, and unresponsive to evidence.
Emily Bazelon's book helps to clarify the picture, recognizing the complexities in the lives of both bullies and victims, and those who don't neatly fit into either category. She presents the serious research that has been done on the topic over the past several decades, while using three case studies of real American teens to illustrate how the theories of the researchers play out in real life. The final section of the book looks at a few methods that schools are using, with some serious success, to cope with the modern incarnation of bullying, and even digs into what social media companies like Facebook are doing, or could do, to help.
Overall, the book is a compelling read. The true stories are as fascinating as any schoolyard-drama novel, and will have you turning pages, concerned for what happens next in the lives of these young people, and hoping that things will improve for them.
One idea that I thought was missing -- perhaps because Emily is not, herself, an engineer, or an expert on the history of Facebook -- was that Facebook could return to its roots, recreating its old school-based networks. If people under 18 had to associate themselves with some sponsoring organization (mainly schools) in order to use the site, FB could grant some kind of supervisory privileges to the schools, who would in turn set up accounts for guidance counselors or principals, allowing them to engage with complaints of abuse in a more nuanced way than FB can currently manage, with staff giving just a few seconds' thought to each case.
Still, I think the book will useful for educators and parents everywhere, and is an engaging read for anyone who remembers their own experiences with grade school bullies and wants to come to grips with this persistent social ill.