writing

A Serious Topic – Bullying

Cartoon sketch of a girl being bullied by two boys

Girls Heart Books is usually light-hearted and fun but, just for once, I thought I would post a more serious blog.

Recently I’ve come across several books that feature bullying, and it’s something I included in my own book, Coping with Chloe, though it wasn’t the main theme.

So, first of all, a question. What books have you read that tackle the subject of bullying? Do you think they did it well? Did you enjoy reading them and find them helpful or did you perhaps find them upsetting or just wrong?

I’m interested partly because I was bullied as a child at school, and it had a deep effect on me that lasted for years. That may be because, in those days, schools didn’t have good policies on bullying, and when my mother visited the school to compain, nothing was done. I started to feel that no one could help me and I would just have to put up with it – which was pretty horrible. Even now, I get scared going into a room full of people and sometimes feel afraid they will all suddenly turn on me. (I was bullied in the playground by a big group of kids all at once. There wasn’t much physical violence but they mocked my accent and told me I was rubbish and didn’t belong.)

I loved reading from an early age, but I don’t remember any good books that featured bullies when I was young. Maybe some of the school stories mentioned it (Enid Blyton etc), but I never felt it was anything like what I was going through.

Cover of 'Bullying - A Parent's Guide'

Recently someone asked me to review a non-fiction book called Bullying – A Parent’s Guide, by Jennifer Thomson. Although it says ‘A Parent’s Guide’, I think it could be read by anyone of about eleven upwards. It has lots of information about what to do and who to turn to, if you think you are being bullied, either at school or somewhere else. This includes cyber-bullying too, on sites like Facebook and by text. The book is very reassuring, and reminds you that if you are being bullied, it’s not your fault. I wish Jennifer’s book had been around when I was young. The author says she was bullied herself, so she really understands.

Anyway, if you’ve read any other good books on the subject, please let me know.

30 thoughts on “A Serious Topic – Bullying

  1. I thought Coping with Chloe was a great book; I didn’t read it, I devoured it. Maybe one of the reasons I loved it was because it made an issue like bullying appear really horrible, which is a brilliant message for people my age. The way they bullied Anna when she’s going through such a hard time helps the readers see exactly what bullying can do – it’s not a good thing.

    • Georgie, thank you so much! I’m so happy that you enjoyed ‘Chloe’, and very, very pleased that you think it might help people see how horrible bullying is. If it could make anyone think twice before bullying someone else, I would be on cloud-million!

      Your comment has really made my day!

  2. there’s a book called Call Me Hope by by Gretchen Olson which is about a girl who’s bullied by her mother. it’s a book related to a charity The Hands Project or Hands and Words Are Not for Hurting. it’s a brilliant book which i read 1st when i was 12 and have reread once a year for the last 3 years. it’s so realistic, but really inspiring.
    also Gingersnaps by Cathy Cassidy is about bullying, showing how bullying can come from people who you love or those you barely know.
    there’s also blubber by judy blume.
    there’s also this is what i did by Anne Dee Ellis, Loser by jerry spinelli, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, does my head look big in this? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, ‘After’ and ‘Finding Darcy’ by Sue Lawson (two of my favourites), keeping the moon by Sarah Dessen, Fat Boy Swims by catherine Forde. and tomora’s pierce’s Protector of the Small series about a girl becoming a knight who decides to end the bullying on first years by older pages.
    there are many books about bullying, and most of those are great books as well as a good way to fight bullying.

  3. Thank you Rosalie for talking about bullying – it’s a really important issue.Childline research found that 5-10% of children will suffer sustained bullying however highly their school rates on any measure of effectiveness. It can usually be stopped, but not always. I wrote a book for parents about it because I think the effect on the family when a child is bullied is under-reported, and then I wrote several more for children, particularly http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bullies-Bigmouths-So-called-Friends-Alexander/dp/0340911840/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
    My books are about how to survive emotionally and protect yourself from lasting harm, because although bruises fade, the psychological effects of prolonged bullying can cast a shadow over the rest of a person’s life. The basic skills, as I see it, are learning to tackle high levels of anxiety and anger, to keep your self-worth, to protect your happiness in other areas of your life and not to let bullying make you a victim. I cover those with a liberal dose of jokes and quizzes!

    • have you heard of the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words never hurt me”? Well me and my friends were having a laugh about it on Monday and we were like how can sticks and stones break ur bones so we messed about a bit and changed it to Branches and Boulders may break my shoulders but words never hurt me-oh and our school bags!
      Then we saw this huge daddy longlegs and its leg was stuck somewhere and we couldnt help it because it was really high, delicate and small. It’s thin legs would break so easily and we said maybe a daddy longlegs made up the phrase because sticks and stones can break its bones but words cant hurt it because it doesnt understand what we’re saying. But afterwards I thought: I wonder if people who are bullied felt how that daddy long legs was feeling. Trapped, delicate and easily broken.

      • Hikma, what a wonderful comparison. I think that’s a very good way to describe how someone who is being bullied must feel. ‘Trapped, delicate and easily broken’. Thank you for that (and sorry I somehow missed your post before)

  4. I’ve read a book by jacqueline wilson called BAD GIRLS

    Bascially agirl called Mady is bullied because she wears hand knitted things made by her mum and she also looks small for her age. They also make fun of her mum because shes older then the rest of the mums. To make it worse her best friend becomes one of the bullies and torments her..

    i was bullied in primary for being short for my age even though i was basically the eldest in my clss

    it was quite embarrasiing. i still am short and i feel really bad about it even though i’m in yr 8 and the second oldest in the class i’m the third shortest (only two ppl shorter then me) but there both younger.

    some ppl still say a few things but i dont care as much now and don’t take it as seriously.]

    BTW great post!

    • Shakira, thanks for your comment and telling us about ‘Bad Girls’. I always enjoy Jacqueline Wilson’s books.

      Sorry to hear you were bullied in primary school. Why can’t we all just be accepted for the way we are? I’ve been short all my life, too, but I’ve now had a long time to get used to it and fortunately adults tend to be nicer (though there are exceptions, of course). Nothing wrong with being short, anyway. Well done for managing not to take the comments as seriously any more.

  5. I haven’t been badly bullied, but I was bit. I’ve read a good few books about bullying, like Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson. It’s really good! That book looks great. What a fab post!

  6. There is a book called ‘The bully, the bullied and the bystander’ by Barbara Coloroso which is an interesting read. In part it looks at the bully’s need for an audience and the very important role of the onlookers.

  7. I am so lucky, because I’ve never been bullied, but unfortunately I have seen people being bullied. I’m going to make a confession – I didn’t do anything.
    I look back now, and I think myself so stupid. Reading books about bullying is hard. But I wish I had read them before that happened – I talked to my friends about what we were going to do. We always planned to tell someone, to stand up for the victim, but when it came to it, we never did. This is almost as bad as the bully.
    Yes, I was very young then, but it was still a horrible thing to do.
    When I got older, I took a stand, and I stood up for people I didn’t even know, and I stopped people, because I realised that being an onlooker, a follower, is just as bad. The bullies always have something wrong in their lives: they don’t do it for no reason.
    A really fabulous book is ‘Cloud Busting’ by Malorie Blackman, which is fantastic, and that was what really changed me.
    Great Post!
    xxx
    PS: Coping with Chloe is one of my favourite ever books!

    • Orli, what a brave and honest post. Thank you.

      I think many of us have been in situations where, looking back, we realise we should have done something at the time, but didn’t. I can think of examples of that in my life and like you, they make me feel stupid now, and sometimes ashamed.

      But the main thing is that we learn from these things, and you certainly have. It is great that you now take a stand against bullies. If more people, young and old, did this, there would be less of a problem.

      And I think you are right, that bullies generally have something wrong in their own lives. You may be interested to know that I’m writing a sequel to ‘Chloe’, which is about Lisa Major (the main bully in the book) and the things that are going on in her life.

      Thank you for your lovely comment about my book!

  8. I was bullied by a girl called hana when i was younger
    Basically we all had detention at lunch but some people didnt do it they just went and scoffed all their food. Our teacher told us to tell him who wasnt waiting and i told him hana wasnt and a few other people.
    Afterwards I was chatting to my friends and then hana came and shoved me against the wall and started shouting at me and bullying me. Then I got really angry and whenever I got really angry its like i have a superpower and turned really strong and in between tears I shouted about injustice and fairness in her face and shoved her off me and ran into the corner. But the best part was that my friends protected me. They didnt just stand in the corner and watch, they stood in front of me and sheilded me from everyone, especially my cousin shakira so i want to thank her.
    I was also teased by people saying i have a monobrow and calling me mcdonalds eyebrows, but shakira again helped me out.
    Then people started teasing me and saying I have a moustache and whispering about it, and sometimes even my friends and cousins which was really horrible id sometimes go home crying. But my mum and shakira (agian) helped me out.
    I want to thank everyone who helped me.
    There quite a few Jacquline wilson books about bullying, and a Rick Riordan book. Well its not really about bullying but basically percy’s friend Grover gets bullied by a girl called nancy bobofit and percy protects him, even though he got expelled because of that.

    • Hikma, thanks for another lovely, honest post.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your experience of being bullied – but hey, well done for fighting back! You’re obviously a very courageous person. And what wonderful friends you have, and a great cousin and mum, too.

      People can be so horribly cruel when they tease us about the way we look. It is utterly horrible. I’ll tell you something (because you’ve been so open yourself) – I haven’t told many people this because I found it so embarrassing – but when I was about 13 I had a rather sticking-out tummy and some girls at school used to call me ‘preggie’ (short for pregnant). In those days, to be pregnant at 13 was the utmost disgrace, and I was so horribly ashamed and embarrassed, even though I knew I couldn’t possibly be! I still go red in the face to think of it.

      Must look for the Rick Riordan book, too. Thank you.

      • Also I hate people who do things just for the sake of it.
        Once these to really clever boys decided to do the “perfect crime”.
        They beat up a boy that was in one of their classes, and that boy who got beaten up was one of the bullies cousins! They beat him up till he died and threw him in a sewer, thinking that nobody would find it. They tried to cover there tracks. Nothing could go wrong.
        Except almost immediately a man found the body and told the police and they launched a whole investigation to find out who did it. Within a few days, the police found out who did it. The two boys had left evidence everywhere! It was meant to be the perfect crime but it wasn’t perfect at all. They were sent to prison and one of the boys got beaten up by another criminal and was killed. I don’t really like this story but what makes it so sickening is that they did it just for the sake of it. They had no reason, the just wanted to look cool.

        You’ll find the full story and other crimes and how to be a detective in “Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook” by Simon Cheshire. You can find it in your library, but it might be in the non fiction section or where the Guinness Book of World Records are.

  9. Hi Rosalie, I don’t remember reading any books about bullying when I was small (in the late 60s, eek! where did all the time go) but I must have come across one somewhere because… I should start this story nearer the beginning!

    I have cerebral palsy (what people used to call being spastic) so I was badly teased at school: people used to chase me round the playground shouting “mental spastic”. I just got angry rather than upset: because I knew thanks to my parents’ support that I wasn’t stupid or anything, just wobbly on my legs.

    AND the school bully was in my class. One day when he was picking on me yet again I remembered reading that bullies are always cowards, so I turned round and smacked him. After that I had the reputation of being the only one who could handle him!

    Of course I don’t *recommend* violence – he might easily have hit me back – but I have to admit it worked this time… *embarrassed grin*.

  10. I was bullied a bit too. Reading actually got me through most of it – especially Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson. My Mum thinks it has damaged my self-esteem a bit, and I am always worried what other people think, which I have really only just begun to notice. I am getting more confident now, but I think it still had an effect.

    Thanks for posting, It is nice to know that other people are going through with it too!! 🙂

  11. Pingback: People can be cruel!

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