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

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  785 ratings  ·  222 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...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Random House (first published January 1st 2013)
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34th out of 127 books — 111 voters
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Jacob Lasher
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...more
Feb 04, 2013 Kurt rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Marjorie Ingall
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
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
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...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 p...more
Pam Camel
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
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...more
George Pal
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
Julie G
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...more
Stephen Cook
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...more
Karin Calde
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
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
Jan 15, 2013 Charla rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.

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
Kathy Holland
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
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,...more
In this non-fiction book by Emily Bazelon, she intensely analyzes the subject of bullying, where it began, and how to deal with it. She assesses and redefines the meaning of bullying today and how important it is to learn these new conditions if people are hoping to understand what children endure daily. Bazelon shares three major stories that emphasize the trouble, explain the escalation, and search for solutions. Through these stories she shows that bullying is much more than what appears on t...more
Clair Bolthouse

Bullying is changing the way teenagers’ act, especially if they have been bullied. Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon. She not only tells the facts of bullying, but personal stories as well.

Emily takes us through the specific stories of Monique, Jacob, and Flannery, three middle school students. She writes how each was affected by the bullying that was forced upon them, and what they did to stop it. Along th

For the most part this book is an excellent, thorough and well presented book on bullying. Bazelon's style is easy to read and compelling. The problems arise when she leaks little biases. Her minor attacks on the Republicans on the Supreme Court and Mitt Romney are completely out of place and irrelevant to the book. If anything, she ends up doing exactly what she goes to such lengths to avoid elsewhere in the book. The reason her presentation of Jacob's story or Phoebe's is so convincing is beca...more
Excellent evaluation of the current bullying/cyberbullying "epidemic." Bazelon points out that kids have always dealt with bullies and harassment, but acknowledges the stakes are higher in this digital age. She thoroughly reports on and investigates three well known bullying cases, one which sadly led to suicide. What she emphasizes is that in such cases there is usually an underlying mental illness, such as depression. What can schools do? Her solutions section was reassuring to me as a Middle...more
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.
I have been listening to the book podcasts on Emily Bazelon is one of the commentators, so I decided to read her book. Bullying seems to be on many people's minds these days and Bazelon provides a good overview.

Fortunately, this is an issue that does not affect me directly. My kids survived school without many bullying problems and I am not bullied as an adult. I suspect some of what happened to me in elementary school would get defined as bullying, but no one saw me as suffering from...more
I can't say enough good things about this book. I appreciated it both as a former teacher and a former student, as well as someone interested in education reform. It was clearheaded, balanced, fascinating, persuasive, impassioned, thoughtful, and practical. It mixes true stories (which, frankly, satisfied my taste for juicy personal details) with discussions of realistic approaches to address bullying and drama among kids and teenagers. Emily Bazelon pushes back against the temptation to sensati...more
Ayelet Waldman
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.
Mary Dearden
I felt that Bazelon did an excellent job of presenting multiple points of view on a very complex topic. Bullying tends not to be straight forward. There are always many sides to the same story. She does her research well and presents it through a mix of stories, facts, and statistics. I appreciated that she told the stories on the individual levels, but also looked at ways that school and communities could approach reducing bullying. She points out that it is never in the power of just one perso...more
Jim Talbott
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.
This was an eye-opening read for me as an educator and one who is acutely interested in building a positive school culture. At times I felt like the anecdotes went on for longer than necessary and that the author's point of view could have been made without quite so much detail, but I also appreciate her thorough look at each person's story from many points of view. I think there is a lot here for educators to learn from. The book seems a bit defensive at times, as if the author wanted to addres...more
Shelley Daugherty
This book is an excellent resource for teachers and administrations alike who deal with bullying and how to circumvent it. This is also a good book for parents of bullied children when you are trying to understand the nature of bullying and how it happens. By using real life scenarios and the trials and outcomes which followed, the authors have done their best to expand the reader's knowledge of what is considered bullying and the many "side effect" of the problem. The book has many good ideas h...more
So this book was...interesting.

Full disclosure: I was bullied. Severely. Harassed in every way, shape and form, endured threats of rape, threats of death, had my stuff stolen, was physically assaulted many, many times...Why? Cuz I was weird (if only I'd been officially diagnosed as autistic in high school...) were any of my bullies ever punished? Nope. They were wealthy, popular, athletic and had influential parents so the adults looked the other way. I was most definitely cyberbullied, but I d...more
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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
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