Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon

Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 2013
Categories: Non-Fiction, Student Life, Adolescent
Source: Library
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.

My Thoughts:
Sticks and Stones was reviewed on a few blogs that I follow (like here at Devourer of Books) and I knew it would be something that I could dig into. When I saw it on the shelf at my local library I snatched it up.
I’ve taken to giving very quick thoughts on most of the books I grab from the library. I tend to save my wordiness for review books. But this book…oh this book. It deserves more.
I was reading Sticks and Stones while waiting to pick up my son from high school. There I was sitting in my car when I realized that I had tears rolling down my face. These weren’t sad tears. These were angry tears. Pissed off tears. I cannot believe people are so ignorant tears.
The passages that had me struck me and had me steaming:
“The Obama administration’s Justice Department had been looking for a case like this, one that could help expand the courts’ view of the protection a student deserves when he or she is harassed for not acting like a typical boy or a typical girl.”
“This wasn’t a new idea for the Justice Department so much as a return, by a Democratic administration, to a decade-old one. Ten years earlier, when Bill Clinton was president, the department submitted a brief on behalf of a Kentucky student who was humiliated by graffiti, scrawled on a wall in his school parking lot, that included his name above a drawing of two boys touching each other sexually  Clinton’s DOJ also entered a suit brought by a Missouri student who was harassed because other students thought he was effeminate, and who left his school as a result. But then George W. Bush got elected, and his Justice Department backed off: in eight years, it didn’t intervene in a single civil right action involving a student who was bullied because he or she didn’t conform to gender stereotypes.”
“”We need to protect all children from bullying,” a Focus on the Family staffer told the New York Times. “But the advocacy groups are promoting homosexual lessons in the name of anti-bullying.” Or as one pastor put it, “Of course we’re all against bullying. But the Bible says very clearly that homosexuality is wrong and Christians don’t want the schools to teach subjects that are repulsive to their values.””
“Study after study shows that the best way to prevent the harassment of gay students is to make it unacceptable.”
“…research shows that schools have to teach not just tolerance of an alternative lifestyle–the old code for keeping homosexuality at arm’s length–but acceptance.”
“…the most effective means of protecting gay kids at school runs into the wall of religious and moral objections to homosexuality.”
I could go on and on. Seriously people? This shit still happens? Ridiculous.
Social media has added a new venue to bullying. Kids can’t get away from it. Back in the day you could come home and relax until you went back to school in the morning. No more. I find this fairly terrifying and I’m so glad that I grew up when I did. Raising kids in this day and age isn’t a picnic, as many of you well know.
There are solutions to the problem of bullying and Bazelon highlights schools who are making it work. That was a wonderful section to read. All is not lost!
I found this book to be engaging, smart, and necessary. Read it.

If you are interested in this subject I recommend that you get your hands on a copy of Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that made History. I watched it with my kids for a homeschool lesson. It’s amazing.

9 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon

  1. Yes, this shit still happens. It blows my mind too. 😦 And why anyone thinks negative attitudes toward homosexuals are \”Christian values\” completely eludes me. Thanks for the DVD recommendation. Looking into that for my homeschooled kids.


  2. Wow, this sounds like a really interesting read. Just reading those few paragraphs made me angry; I can totally understand crying tears of rage while reading more of the same. It always astounds me how many people are so intolerant — and how intolerance of homosexuals (or anyone, for that matter) is considered at all Christian. Love your neighbor, anyone? Sorry, I'll try not to get too ranty in your comments :PGreat review 🙂


  3. I need to read this. My sisters are thirteen and I refuse to let them get Facebook or Twitter accounts because of the rampant bullying going on online. You're right when you wrote that kids can't get away from it. It kills me that enough is not being done to end this. No one wants to be tolerated by anyone. Acceptance is the only way. Being teased or bullied for any reason should be unacceptable to every adult. Ugh!


  4. Agreed! No one's \”values\” give them the right to have negative attitudes, especially Christianity. You do not have to agree with someone in order to show empathy, compassion, and a whole load of other positive emotions.


  5. It's so weird being a parent now. When I was a kid if someone called me everyone at my house knew about it. Now the kids have their own phones and…well it's hard to keep track of and monitor things. You have to be ever vigilant without pushing them away entirely. Way to go protecting your sisters! It's a tricky world out there.


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