Speaker on Bullying and Author of Sticks and Stones
Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School, and a former senior editor at Slate. Her ground-breaking investigative journalism (and knack for storytelling), coupled with her extensive legal knowledge, makes her one of the leading authorities on the shifting landscape of bullying in the cyber age: what constitutes bullying? What can parents, teachers, and educators do about it? What are the roles of personality traits, such as “grit,” character, and empathy, to overcome childhood trauma and find social success?
Emily Bazleon’s 2010 Slate coverage of the suicide of Phoebe Prince, a Massachusetts high school student whose suicide was linked to bullying, was a finalist for the 2011 Online Journalism Award from the Gannett Foundation and the 2011 Michael Kelley Award for "the fearless pursuit and expression of truth."
She has spoken to audiences from the Aspen Ideas Festival to the Texas Bar Association to TEDxWomen. She is a frequent guest on The Colbert Report. She has also appeared on Today, PBS Newshour, Morning Joe, Fresh Air, and All Things Considered. Bazelon does live shows around the country as a member of the Slate Political Gabfest, and she also recently interviewed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg at Yale. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, and Mother Jones. Her book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, has won widespread acclaim since its release in 2013, and was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review.
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
In this timely talk, Emily Bazelon cuts to the beating heart of an increasingly important topic: bullying. She guides audiences on a sweeping, thoughtful, and empathetic journey through the social and legal ramifications, and answers key questions: Which school programs work best to combat bullying? How effective are the laws at protecting our children from this trauma? What do recent high-profile cases of bullying tell us about how the issue has changed over the years? How are people using new technologies—mobile phones, social media, texting—to both spread and combat bullying? Most importantly: is bullying happening to the degree that media reports suggest? Insightful and engaging, Bazelon empowers parents, educators and students with the tools to stop bullying, both in the classroom and online. This powerful keynote is a reminder of all that we can—and must—do to help our children succeed in any environment.
Bullying and Blame in the Age of Facebook
Bullying has changed in the Internet era. Social networking and texting have given kids new opportunities to be mean to each other—just as a series of teen suicides have been blamed on bullying. Parents care deeply about understanding these developments: To do that, they need to know what’s important to pay attention to, and what’s misleading hype. The latest research shows how the Internet does—and doesn’t—pose problems for kids, and offers clues about how parents can help. Other work, along with the story of Phoebe Prince, offers important wisdom about teen suicide, both about the way cruelty from peers hurts vulnerable kids and about the danger of the oversimplified “bullying” narrative that often obscures important truth and complexity.
Bullying and the Law
Courts are splitting over whether schools have the authority to discipline students for what they post online, even if it’s cruel and directed toward another student, because it is off-campus speech. And while 49 states now have laws that address bullying and harassment, online and off, they are far from uniform. Some states leave developing policies on bullying to individual school districts. Others direct schools to suspend and expel known bullies. Some tell schools to address online harassment; others leave that problem to the police. In this confusing landscape, what should schools and parents do? What about social network sites like Facebook—what kind of help in addressing online bullying should we ask of them?
Solutions for Schools
Though bullying has increasingly moved to the Internet, kids still torment each other in the hallways at school. In fact, in person and online bullying usually go together. How does the school environment influence the level of aggressive behavior in the classroom and on the playground? How can schools best combat bullying? Which programs have proven most effective? What are the obstacles to making them work? And what legal challenges do schools face based on recent state laws and court decisions?
Girls, Boys, and Gender Bending
How does bullying differ by gender, and in what ways does it especially impact gay kids? The type of bully who gets the most attention these days is the Mean Girl, but in truth boys still bully more often than girls. They tend to bully other boys and girls, whereas girls usually bully other girls. Which prevention techniques help most with boys, and which ones with girls? What should parents of either sex particularly look out for? Often issues of sexuality and, for boys, masculinity, come into play by middle school. This leaves LGBT and questioning kids particularly vulnerable. What are the best buffers for gay kids negotiating these boundaries, and how can schools and parents help them to help themselves?
Sticks and Stones
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 writer 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 readers 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.
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