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Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,062 Ratings  ·  262 Reviews

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 te
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Random House (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jacob Lasher
Mar 29, 2014 Jacob Lasher rated it liked it
Edit: 3/29/14:

I'm featured in this book. So it's weird reading about myself and my story about bullying. It's weird, but interesting. I also had no idea she'd be interviewing a bully that I had to deal with in middle school, so that was cool and interesting how she showed the two sides to every story.

I remember meeting Emily and her telling me about this dream that she had about writing this book. Picking it up, a couple years later, was funny. Haha.

Now a few problems that I can't ignore:
Both o
Marjorie Ingall
Aug 31, 2016 Marjorie Ingall rated it really liked it
Shelves: grownups
This book is wicked nuanced (how IRKSOME in our soundbite culture!). Bazelon blends storytelling and research beautifully. Sticks and Stones offers solutions that are really about changing the culture of schools -- they're not facile. (I am on record as loathing the movie Bully because I felt it was torture porn with a fake-y uplifting ending that made a conscious choice not to offer context or meaningful, strategic solutions.) This book addresses the role kids have in getting bullied (without b ...more
Initial reflections: This is certainly an interesting eye into the conflict of bullying that happens within schools and examines the roles and conflicts that students, parents, and educators have. The case studies I thought were well presented and balanced, alongside Bazelon's commentary on the complexities and roots of the problem - spanning from in person bullying confrontations as well as cyberbullying.

There were a few things that I didn't really see eye-to-eye with, but it didn't affect what
Jan 30, 2013 Caitlin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Context first. I wanted to review this book because I loathed Emily Bazelon's coverage of the Phoebe Prince story. Phoebe Prince was a young woman who was bullied in school and committed suicide in South Hadley, MA. The case became significant because the local DA prosecuted the kids involved and initially leveled felony charges on the kids. Ms. Bazelon's coverage seemed to emphasize that the prosecution was wrongful and unhelpful, but more importantly that bullying did not (and does not) cause ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
An editor and journalist with a law background, Emily Bazelon's intense examination of what bullying is today began with a series on cyberbullying in the online magazine, Slate , and culminated in a highly contentious article called "What Really Happened to Phoebe Prince?" - much of which is explored again in this book.

Bazelon has taken a refreshing, level-headed approach to a subject that in recent years, thanks to the internet and social media in particular, has become sensationalised to the
Pam Camel
Mar 09, 2013 Pam Camel rated it did not like it
This book did not add to the discussion of bullying at all. Of anything it was a rehash of old information and at ones felt like the author was taking the bullies side. This book also continues to pass on falsehoods. While the author mentions research it all seems to be old and outdated. When speaking of types of bullies the author goes into the idea that one type of bully the social inept and usually on the autism spectrum just continues to fear mongering and pass falsehoods on those with autis ...more
Julie G
Feb 05, 2013 Julie G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There are a lot of things to take away from this book; much to absorb. Bullying is nothing new. Even though society didn't acknowledge it until very recently, it has existed in fiction for generations, going back to the 1800s. Remember Nellie in the Little House on the Prairie books?

Throughout the three stories Bazelon details, there are patterns: trouble, escalation, and a search for solutions. Consistently, the author seeks to answer the question: How do you address bullying, create an orderly
Anne Hawn Smith
I found this book very balanced and informative. The author chose 3 very good examples of bullying to study in depth. The children's stories were compelling and Brazlon did not follow the general practice of demonizing the bullies and sanctifying the bullied. She also did not fall into the trap of making the schools the culprit either. In some cases, the school was insensitive, but in general, they were doing the best they could to tackle the problem.

This is a very complex problem and there are
George Pal
Jan 30, 2014 George Pal rated it did not like it
I will admit: no, i did not read this book, nor do I even intend to. But I have read Bazelon's articles about the Phoebe Prince tragedy, which were decidedly biased in favor of the perpetrators. Moreover, Ms. Bazelon somehow managed to get her filthy little hands on confidential medical records pertaining to Phoebe's mental health, as if to prove her agenda that Phoebe killed Phoebe, not the bullies. With all that said, it speaks volumes as to the credibility, or should we say the lack thereof, ...more
Stephen Cook
Nov 13, 2012 Stephen Cook rated it liked it
I am a big fan of kids not being bullied (who isn't?) I read this book in the hopes of doing exactly what the title touted: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.

It started with several chapters, each one following the life of a person being bullied - mostly in school. We read a lot about in-person bullying and cyber-bullying. We read a lot about the missteps that administrators, parents, and law enforcement made. The stories were often gut-wrench
Jan 15, 2013 Charla rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, school administrators, teachers, mental health professionals, doctors, lawyers
Shelves: first-reads
*I received an ARC through the First Reads program*
This book will publish in February 2012

First let me start by saying this book landed on my doorstep a few weeks after a boy at school had been expelled for bullying my son and other students. We'd been through a difficult year and found the entire process unpleasant for all - even the bully. I was convinced there had to be a better way to protect students, for schools to be proactive, and for the bullying child to get the help they need.

Oct 13, 2013 Emma rated it liked it
This book gives good insights into why kids bully and suggestions as to how to handle bullying. I found the stories of the three teenagers very interesting and upsetting. I definitely was angry with the bullies, but I also found myself angry with the bullies' parents a lot, which doesn't surprise me since children can turn out like their parents. There were moments that I read about the parents where I wanted to actually rip the book up because I was so frustrated and angry (the only other book ...more
Karin Calde
Jun 16, 2013 Karin Calde rated it it was amazing
In Sticks and Stones, Emily Bazelon does a commendable job staying objective. She researches the stories of three kids who have been bullied, showing that bullying is typically much more complicated than it seems on the surface. As she explains, the media tend to portray these cases in very black-and-white terms, which is not an accurate reflection of the facts. She describes the different types of bullies and victims, showing how in many cases, the victims are not entirely blameless and bring t ...more
Mathew Walls
Nov 19, 2014 Mathew Walls rated it did not like it
Disappointing. The first two parts of the books are set out in a way that makes them hard to follow, with three real life stories of bullying split over six chapters, with the second part of each story appearing in part two of the book so you have time to forget who was who and what was going on before you get back to it. Also it seems that Bazelon struggles to connect the points she wants to make to the stories she's relating. The third part is the weakest though, as it seems really unfocused a ...more
Kathy Holland
Mar 15, 2013 Kathy Holland rated it it was amazing
Bullying has existed in fiction because it has existed in our culture since the beginning of human interaction. In today's world, it is so important for parents to foster and maintain a connection with their children, to create and continue a deep sense of family, responsibility to each other and to society. Bazelon's book presents case studies that reflect what a complicated, multi-faceted issue bullying is. As a retired upper-middle school teacher, I applaud the schools that have taken an init ...more
May 30, 2013 Bridgid rated it it was amazing
Bazelon conducted thorough research, asked tough and thoughtful questions, and offers nuanced analysis of the perceived epidemic of bullying among teenagers. The teens she follows are portrayed without judgement and as whole beings, rather than facile archetypes of sloppy journalism or judgmental community members. Bazelon differentiates between bullying and drama, and notes the importance of not mislabeling bullies as well as giving teens room to navigate social struggles for their own personal ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Cyndie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cyndie by: Michael Courtney
The book that made me 20 times LESS terrified to someday become a parent. I grew up with instant messaging and was fortunate enough to have experienced little to no internet bullying or harassment. So the thought of helping my future children navigate this mindfield was terrifying. Ms. Bazelon helps sparse out what is really bullying and what is teenage social drama, how students and parents can counter this, and how we all can help pressure social media sites and local governments to provide th ...more
May 20, 2013 Abby rated it it was ok
Bazelon offered NO solutions to "defeat the culture of bullying and rediscover the power of character and empathy". She did show empathy to the person who is doing the bullying - and that is fine because the bully needs to be educated in a different behavior, But she seemed to be putting up a resistance to showing empathy for the victims of bullying. She failed to delve into how to re-calibrate the balance of power between the bullied and the bullying, or offer ways to communicate that concept i ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
I think this is a must-read for anyone concerned about or thinking about bullying -- both that of the teen variety (explored here) and more broadly. A lot of food for thought on what does and doesn't count as bullying and what the consequences may or may not be. I give Bazelon great credit for being objective and offering insight into what happens when the answers SEEM like they're clear but they are not.

Good resources and good discussion, as well as highly readable. But it's not all anecdote,
Jul 22, 2014 Charlene rated it liked it
A must-read for parents (and educators!) of teens and tweens. The most sensible thing I've read on bullying and what really needs to be done about it. Written by a journalist and a mom, this book calls out the media, clueless school administrators and Facebook for getting so much wrong on this issue. But she also researches how to get it right and lists tons of resources for kids, parents and educators.
Aug 18, 2014 Tracy rated it it was ok
There were things I liked about this book, in particular the in depth examination of high profile bullying cases. The section on Facebook was also enlightening. However, I found the author to be incredibly bias and that is why I am only giving it two stars.
Ayelet Waldman
Feb 21, 2013 Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing
I bought this book because I was curious about the subject and because I love Bazelon's work. I read it in a single day. I ignored EVERYTHING. Work, children, spouse, food. Well, not food. I ate a lot while I read it. Emotional eating, I think. This book is incredible. It will open your mind.
Jim Talbott
Apr 17, 2013 Jim Talbott rated it it was amazing
I thought this book gave a thoughtful, non-alarmist overview of the issue of bullying and social aggression in our schools. It was a welcome antidote to the alarmist press coverage and the over-focus on social media.
May 11, 2013 Eva rated it really liked it
An interesting look at what constitutes bullying (vs. "kids being kids"), what some kids go through, how some parents and schools respond, how bullying manifests online vs. in person, and what school programs and other interventions seem to be effective.

I was esp. interested to learn about the Phoebe Prince case. It's not a simple "bullied to death" case, contrary to how it's been portrayed. The backstory is quite striking: Phoebe isn't innocent (or mentally healthy), the bullies--with perhaps
Sep 08, 2016 Aurora rated it liked it
Title of the book: Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Author: Emily Bazelon

Publisher: Random House

Publishing Date: 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9280-9


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 a
Jan 22, 2017 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
I read this book after reading Emily Bazelon’s articles on Bazelon examines bullying from multiple angles. She writes about the perspectives and experiences of victims of bullying, accused bullies, parents, teachers, school administrators, and research scientists who study the topic. Towards the end of the book she describes some success stories from people who have tried different tactics to end bullying. Overall, the book covers a lot of ground on what is a very complicated issue.
Nov 13, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost TOO Useful

As a middle school teacher and father of a young son, I found some useful insight on almost every page. The author explains each scenario with empathy for all parties and offers practical advice while willingly admitting the limits of her knowledge and information.
Jan 13, 2017 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful and unbiased

The author looked at bullying from a variety of angles. I was concerned she might pursue an agenda but I found her approach unbiased. I was especially pleased that she addressed claims that some are expanding the definition of "bullying" beyond what was originally intended.
Feb 04, 2013 Kurt rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kurt by: Amazon Vine
This is a must-read book for anyone who cares about teenagers. Bazelon carefully explores issues relating to bullying, avoiding blame or hyperbole to present thoughtful and textured pictures of what the problem is (and, perhaps more significantly, what it is not) and sharing success stories from schools trying hard to protect kids.

I should disclose some personal biases here. In late 2008, I bought my first home, a small place in South Hadley, Massachusetts, just a few blocks from the high school
Lea Page
Nov 11, 2015 Lea Page rated it liked it
I want to thank Emily Bazelon for wading into the murky and churning waters of bullying. That she lost her footing in the process is really no surprise-- no one comes out unscathed when bullying--real bullying-- is involved.

Bullying is not all that hard to define in the abstract, as she says. But applying that basic template to actual human beings is a different story.

The strength of the book: showing how nuanced and complicated bullying is.

The weakness of the book: forgetting that exact trut
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Emily Bazelon is a senior editor at Slate, a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School
More about Emily Bazelon...

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