This anthology of 21 true stories by teens in Youth Communication’s highly regarded New York City writing program boasts a stylish new paperback design and a new publisher, Free Spirit, known for cutting-edge books about “kids’ social, emotional, and educational needs.” It’s an update of Youth Communication’s 2009 edition, Sticks and Stones, containing eight new stories, five of which address cyberbullying issues not covered in the earlier book. Thirteen stories are reprinted.
An introduction explains that the stories explore the effects of bullying in any form – “physical violence or verbal or online harassment” – from one or more of three perspectives: the bully, the bystander or witness, and the target. By clarifying the actions that overcame tough situations, these young writers “hope that telling their stories will help readers who are facing similar challenges.”
The opening story’s author is among three who chose to write anonymously. From her secure circle of girlfriends – Felicia, Michelle, and Brittany – she flashes back three years to explore her title: “Why Are Girls So Mean?” As freshmen, these girls got tired of Brittany’s long, boring stories, which they criticized behind her back. When they descended into mocking her hair, the author insisted on stopping such negative talk, and they realized they did care about Brittany. Wondering why they had been so unkind, the author researched their behavior, discovering that “girl-on-girl cruelty is a kind of bullying called relational aggression,” found in females of all ages who use exclusion and peer pressure to get what they want.
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