Young Adult Authors Against Bullying

Josie Leavitt -- April 15th, 2010

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.

12 thoughts on “Young Adult Authors Against Bullying

  1. Laurie Bain Wilson

    Catcher in the Sky is a new novel about a a 12-year-old Little Leaguer and his great-grandfather, a 19th-century former major league baseball player, who helps him with issues like the bullying of his best friend. Bullying in a young boy’s life is common in sports and yet it’s often not dealt with because in sports you’re supposed to be tough and brave.

  2. Pingback: The Power of Writers « ShelfTalker

  3. Regenia Abrey

    Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  4. Marcia Kaplan Whale of a Tale

    I did a newsletter on bullying so my schools could have the material available. It is required in Ohio to teach about bullying. I did have one or two schools interested. It breaks my heart to think that a child is ridiculed so deeply that suicide is the answer. May we all learn to make a difference. If anyone needs a copy just e-mail me marciajkaplan@hotmail.com
    The book the Revealers, by Wilhelm was required reading in a school district for middle schoolers in Indiana. Bravo for them.

  5. David LaRochelle

    To assume that there will always be bullying and that it’s a natural part of society is to do our young people a great disservice. I know that it is uncomfortable to step in and be the unpleasant authority figure, but if we as adults don’t speak up, then who will? I’ve been to schools where the use of derogatory language (“Oh, that’s so gay!”) has been eliminated because the teachers took a stand and decided that this type of name calling wouldn’t be tolerated and consistently called students on this behavior whenever it occurred. And it worked.

  6. Julie Anne Peters

    Assuming bullying behavior is innate only gives us permission to ignore the problem. I believe if we teach children kindness and respect, and take responsibility to intervene when children demonstrate hurtful, inappropriate behavior toward others, we can absolutely eliminate bullying. BECAUSE we’re human beings, we should believe in the possibility of peaceful coexistence.

  7. Susanne Gervay

    I joined this group too. Stopping bullying is about the other kids NOT bullied doing something. They have to not walk past while other kids are in trouble.
    There are ways to stop bullying before it escalates. Other kids need to stand beside a kid in trouble. Tell a teacher, parent, other – as a group. A kid who’s bullied is without power. They are trapped by isolation and silence and often can’t speak.
    Other kids have to help. However kids often don’t know what to do. Reading story, can empower enough kids to act to change the terrible impact of bullying. My middle grade book ‘I Am Jack’ is a rite-of-passage book in Australia on school bullying and it’s just been released in the USA.
    Books that emotionally reach kids, can empower enough of the school community, to work against bullying.

  8. eponym

    I applaud them for having good intentions, but there will always be bullies as long as there are human beings. Perhaps the bullied could throw some of the authors’ books at their tormentors.

  9. Carol Chittenden

    Of course we carry the relevant books, participate in all the local anti-bullying programs, and I love the idea of the bookstore as a bully-free zone — but I really don’t know that we’d detect somebody sitting in the corner sending off a nasty text message, or what we’d say to a couple of kids who appeared to be hassling a third. I can do the Gray Haired Authority Figure act up to a point, but I’m not sure I’m willing to ask kids to leave the store, nor do I think it would be especially effective. I’d welcome suggestions.

  10. Debra

    Thank you for standing up for our young people. Phoebe’s story hurts my heart and I do not understand why our society is becoming so mean! This will be a safe haven for yound adults but it will also be a wake up call for adults who stand by and do nothing.

  11. Liz Szabla

    Another author who is participating in this group is James Preller, author of the middle-grade novel, BYSTANDER (Fall 2009). BYSTANDER rec’d stellar reviews and is being used to start discussions about bullying. The author has blogged extensively on his website about this subject, and it’s a great resource: http://www.jamespreller.com.

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