A staff writer on politics and judicial matters for The New York Times Magazine, Emily Bazelon is the author of the bestselling book Sticks and Stones, a major contribution to the international conversation on bullying. Clear-eyed and accessible, Stones was hailed as an “authoritative and important book [that] should not only be read by educators and parents alike, but should also be taught in law schools and journalism schools” (New York Times).
“[Bazelon] does not stint on the psychological literature, but the result never feels dense with studies; it’s immersive storytelling with a sturdy base of science underneath, and draws its authority and power from both.”— New York Magazine
Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, where she writes on today’s most vital legal matters—from voter fraud and national security to the balance of power in Washington, abortion to capital punishment, prostitution to sexual assault and trans-gender rights. Her ground-breaking investigative journalism (and knack for storytelling), coupled with her extensive legal knowledge (she is the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School), makes her one of the leading authorities on jurisprudence and justice in America. Bazelon is also an expert 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? Her New York Times bestseller on the subject, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, has won widespread acclaim, and was featured on the cover of The New York Times Book Review.
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 was a frequent guest on The Colbert Report. She has also appeared on Today, PBS Newshour, MSNBC, Fresh Air, and All Things Considered. A former senior editor of both Legal Affairs and Slate, she is now co-host of Slate’s weekly podcast, “Political Gabfest.” Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, and Mother Jones.
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?