Saturday, April 20, 2013

Emily Bazelon discussion questions for Sticks and Stones: My responses

Book cover: Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon
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Discussion questions for Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy can be downloaded in .docx format from Emily Bazelon’s website,

In the first question on the list: Bazelon defines bullying as physical or verbal abuse that is repeated over time and involves a power imbalance: one child, or group of children, lording it over another.She asks if the reader agrees with that definition and is there anything the reader would change?

To Bazelon’s definition I would add social exclusion, which I was repeatedly subjected to: I was rejected by all of my classmates from my first day of kindergarten onward. Even when I wasn’t being taunted or abused physically, I had absolutely no friends at Calistoga Elementary School and Calistoga Junior/Senior High School.

Or take this one: “At Woodrow Wilson School in Middletown, Conn., students in popular circles believed that social aggression was necessary to improve or maintain social status. Can school culture change the way ‘popularity’ is experienced?” I believe the answer is yes and suggest two potential resources:
  • Challenge Day uses an “iceberg” metaphor, emphasizing that only 10 percent of what a person is, is visible on the surface. “Crossing the line” illustrates similarities among people who may superficially appear have little in common.
  • Safe School Ambassadors engages and mobilizes “socially-influential leaders” among the student population. These students receive training to “resolve conflicts, defuse incidents, and support isolated and excluded students.”
Emily Bazlelon is offering to Skype or call in to book groups of 10 people or more. The book’s publisher, Random House, will send two free copies to the book group organizer. For more information, contact

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