YA A to Z: Bullying by Michelle Biwer
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), about 20% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in 2015. Notably, those statistics skyrocket for LGBTQ students. In 2013, 70.8% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied because of their sexual orientation and 54.5% were bullied due to their gender expression (National School Climate Survey, 2015). Bullying rates are also higher for black students (NCES, 2016) and students with disabilities (Rose et al., 2012). Edutopia has some great resources for how to prevent bullying as a teacher and how to get teens involved in the process.
Notably, the NCES does not currently compile data on students with disabilities and bullying, meaning the government does not have a complete picture of bullying issues. However, other organizations have collected that data and made it available for reference.
The recent YA titles below feature teens who are bullied. While bullying may be the focus of a story, it’s more often presented as one of many problems a teen protagonist has to deal with.
Justyce is an African-American teen who attends an elite boarding school and the rich, white kids he is surrounded by constantly harass him with racial epithets. When his friend is shot by a police officer, he sees what happens when such pervasive prejudice is ignored.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)
Raised in an abusive household with no money, Eleanor goes to school in ill-fitting, patched-up clothes, making her an easy target for bullies. While trying to escape the bullies at home and at school, Eleanor makes a friend in Park, who shares her love of music.
Ms. Marvel, Volume 7: Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel Comics, 2017)
In issue #16 of the Ms. Marvel comics centered around New Jersey teen Kamala Khan, Dr. X threatens to reveal Kamala’s secret superhero identity to the world via the internet.
Melody is finally able to “talk” through her new assistive device, allowing her freedom she never had before as a person with cerebral palsy. She joins the quiz bowl team but suffers harassment from other members and even sometimes her teachers.
After Paige told her best friend that she was HIV positive, she was relentlessly bullied and struggled with depression. This memoir recounts that time in her life and promotes the importance of compassion.
Kevin’s unusual bullying tactic is cutting up old library books and arranging rude poetry about other students. When everyone finds out Kevin is the culprit, the tables are turned and he becomes bullied himself.
Lucy steps in as a prom date for her best friend’s boyfriend and the next day she is hacked, with compromising photos of the two splashed all over her Facebook page. She fights against slutshaming and other bullying from her peers and is determined to find out who hacked her account.
Simon is a closeted gay teen who is blackmailed about his sexual orientation by classmate at school. The film adaptation, titled Love, Simon, will be out later this year.
Piddy moves to a new school and quickly finds herself the target of Yaqui Delgado and her gang.
Filed under: YA A to Z
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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