Join the Fight Against Bullying
Bullying has become such a problem with today’s teens that it is a huge topic in the news and media. In fact, with a hand full of high profile suicides in the news, a new term has been coined: Bullycide – a suicide that is the result of bullying. As someone who works with and values teenagers, I think we can all agree that we would like to see an end to bullying. But what role can we play in the fight against bullying?
There are a variety of campaign already out there that raise awareness, and they have well developed tools that you can use with your teens. Things likes PSAs, booklists and more. Some of those campaigns include:
The PACER Center
It Gets Better – a campaign that specifically addresses bullying of GLBT youth
[delete] Digital Drama – a campaign with Seventeen magazine and ABC Family to address online/cyberbullying
You can post these resources in your teen area, share links online, and help spread the word that bullying is more than bad, it is a crime. Cyberbullying is a crime in all 50 states.
There are a lot of great books in your teen collection that deal with bullying. Books like Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (one of my favorites), 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and The Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Some of the classics include The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier and The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. Put these books on display in your teen area, create booklists on paper and online, booktalk them and more. You can find some good bibliographies here and here.
Sadly, there are lots of true stories out there about being bullied. Be sure to share those with your teens, too. Jared’s story not only has his story, but a long list of links to other real life stories. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a collection of videos that you can share with your teens. You can use your online resources, your web page, blog and FB page, to share these stories and raise awareness. Get your teens thinking about what it must be like to be bullied. Help your teens realize how serious this issue is.
Part of our job is making sure teens have the information they need, so make sure your teens know who they can contact to get help if they need it. Let them know they should tell their parents and teachers. In addition, they can contact places like the Kids Helpline or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for confidential support.
Also, let your area schools know that you are available to do booktalks and provide appropriate resources. Learn to be Healthy has lesson plans you can share with your teachers. There are also lesson plans available at Cybersmart, Do Something About and at TKF. ReadWriteThink has a literature response group lesson plan you can share. I am sure there are more so you can help your teachers find the right resource for them.
October 18, 2011 is Mix It Up at Lunch Day – Work with your locals schools to have an event during lunch that encourages teens to sit with different teens for the day at lunch and build tolerance. You can set up a display and .ppt of your recommended reading and maybe do some ice breaker/mingling games. Or have a contest sheet for teens to do.
- Make friendship bracelets
- Show a movie (The Outsiders, Holes, or even Cyberbully)
- Loop the video for Drift, Emily Osment’s song from the Cyberbully movie
- Have a Pimp My Facebook tech lab session and discuss online safety
- Play a variety of fun mixer games: Oreo stacking contest, any of the Minute to Win It games
- Do cooperative activities like scavenger hunts, Lego building contests, and more.
- Ask your teens to sign an anti-bullying pledge.
Have a book discussion group that revolves around the topic of bullying: Have a series, do a comparison of titles. Then, have teens take their favorite quotes and make a picture that displays the quote. Or, have them develop a poster for their favorite title. Or a book trailer. You can use these to share in your teen area and online – it gives teens a creative outlet and buy in to your teen programming, and it gives you teen oriented opinions to share.
Share With Staff
This is a great time to review your library’s acceptable behavior policy and Internet policy to make sure library staff has recourse they can take to help protect your teen patrons. Do a training session to help staff understand how serious bullying is (it is estimated that 25% of teens are a victim of bullying at some point), how to recognize the signs, and how they can help. Make sure all staff feel empowered and comfortable approaching teens, both in basic customer service and should the need arise to intervene in a serious issue. Also, share campaigns, book titles and tips with your staff on a regular basis.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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