When sixteen-year-old Pheobe Prince hung herself after months relentless bullying earlier this year, many people were shocked. A lot of us didn’t know what to do. Two young adult authors, Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall, decided to something about it. They started a group called YAAAB: Young Adult Authors Against Bullying on Facebook.
To quote Megan: “The Phoebe Prince case really shocked and horrified me and the reactions from the alleged bullies sickened me. Especially when I read what one of the bullies had posted as her Facebook status right after Phoebe Prince had taken her own life; killed herself because at 15 she reached the point after relentless bullying and harassment that she felt she had no way out. The alleged bully wrote: Mission Accomplished. That just tore my heart out…. This group was created for Young Adult authors and readers to come together and put an end to bullying. Victims of bullying do not need to feel like they are alone. We are creating a platform for your stories. We are creating a safe haven for your concerns. We encourage all YA authors to become a part of this group, so that we can provide updates, mission statements, action items and simple ways to spread the anti-bullying cause.”
I asked Carrie Jones why writers and she said, “By sharing our own stories of being bullied and/or being bullied and living through that it’s going to hopefully be pretty empowering to kids who are dealing with that right now. I’ve gotten some really heart-wrenching emails from kids who read one of my own bullying stories who said it made them feel better to see that I had to go through it too, and that I somehow survived.”At some point they’d foresee an anthology of writers sharing their stories of being bullied or maybe even being bullies themselves. If the first anthology, focusing primarily on young adults is sucessful, then there will be one for middle graders.
I applaud these two writers for starting this group. Their Facebook page, Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, is easy to join and full of great information (open to all, writers or not). It began April 2nd and now boasts almost 3,000 members, most of whom are writers, but many are not. The fact that so many folks have joined tells me these two women have begun something huge. The Facebook group is full of great links to other sites that deal with bullying, folks sharing their stories of being bullied and ways they can make the group’s reach larger.
Apparently, a librarian overheard the harassment that Phoebe endured, and said nothing. One of the aims of the group is have all people who interact with teens to be trained in listening for signs of bullying and to know what to do about it. I do think if every adult who saw or overheard an instance of bullying and did something to stop it, then maybe our kids would feel safer and not go to such final extremes to make it stop.
Carrie thought bookstores would be a natural place to help spread the word. “One of the things we’re hoping to do is to create a bully-free zone sticker/sign so that teachers and businesses can post it or wear it and let kids know that they are there to listen, support, not judge, and help, or simply provide a safe place to breathe when bullying is happening. Bookstores could be great bully-free zones.”
I am grateful to Carrie and Megan for starting this group. As a bookstore owner, I love the resources available to me on their Facebook site. If I have a customer, parent or child, who is facing a bullying issue, I will happily send them there. The book list is particularly useful as it lists titles that have bullying has a central theme.
Sadly, bullying, whether in person or in cyberspace, has become a large and dangerous part of our society. Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall have decided to take a stand and help those who have lost their voice. I applaud them and look forward to helping them realize their vision to create a bully-free world.