I was recently asked why I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) wrote my book, A Shattered New Start. I’ve been pondering that question ever since as I had never really thought about it before.
My immediate answer would be that I’ve always wanted to write a book and become an author. Whenever someone asked me what I’ll do in retirement, I would tell them “I am going to write.” I know a lot of people say that, few follow through, but anyone who knows me understands that when I decide to do something, I do it. One of my daughters is just like me in that regard. Some might say I am stubborn, but I say I’m motivated.
I debated what to write a book on, and someone told me to write about what I know when writing for the first time. That made sense to me. Being that I am veteran teacher of 35 years, if there is one thing I know about, it’s school life and the world of school bullies (#bullying #antibullying). During my teaching career, I dealt with many school yard bullies and comforted many victims of bullies. The truth is, bullies infuriate me. I had dealt with every kind of school bully there is. Bullying is a topic dear to my heart because I’ve dealt with a lot of it both as a teacher and personally.
Educationcorner.com, an American education site, says:
Bullying is an epidemic. It is rampant, widespread, pervasive and the effects can be catastrophic. It occurs in our communities, in our schools – and sadly – even in our homes. Bullying statistics are staggering, scary and merit serious consideration
Here are some of the stats it reports:
- 90% of students in grades 4-8 report have been harassed or bullied.
- 28% of students in grades 6-12 experience bullying.
- Over 160,000 kids refuse to go to school each day for fear of being bullied.
- 70.6% of students report having witnessed bullying in their school–and over 71% say bullying is a problem.
- Statistics suggest that revenge [due to bullying] is the number one motivator for school shootings in the U.S.
- 86% of students surveyed said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” is the number one reason that teenagers turn to lethal violence at school.
That means 90% of 8-15 year olds have been bullied. That is huge! In my experience, these statistics are a realistic reflection of school bullying. Bullying isn’t just a problem in schools, as there are politicians and governments who bully to get what they want, and there is a massive amount of bullying that goes on in our workplaces. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’d know that I have deemed 2020 the “Year of Bullying.” Last year bullying increased, as well as introduced new forms of bullying as indicated in the article, Bullying 2020. Our governments and police forces have bullied in 2020 unlike any other time; the very people who are supposed to have our backs, and their bullying is continuing into the new year.
I’ve always felt that bullying is a massive problem in our world, and I can tell you as a teacher, schools do their best to address the problem, but it is tough. What I’ve seen as a teacher is that most bullying is hidden or unseen. I’ll give you a personal example. Many years ago, while teaching Grade 6 (10-11 year-olds), I had a student that came to me who was receiving nasty notes from a bully. This went on for weeks. The principal and I tried to determine who the bully was by doing such things as analyzing the bully’s handwriting, but it was difficult. Honestly, I don’t remember if we determined who the bully was, but the bullying did stop after we talked to the class about the horrors of bullying.
So, why did I chose bullying as the main theme in my book? It’s because I see bullying everywhere. It’s in our schools, our homes, our workplaces, and it’s even commonplace in movies and television shows. Case in point: Draco Malfoy from “Harry Potter,” Biff Tannen from “Back to the Future,” Johnny Lawrence from “The Karate Kid,” Paris Geller from “Gilmore Girls,” and Nellie Oleson from “Little House on the Prairie.” The list is endless. Bullying is a learned behaviour and television and movies are helping to teach it.
For most of my career, I considered bullies to be “bad” kids who needed a good dose of discipline. Having learned about bullies over the years, I now see bullies differently. Simply put, bullies are hurting people who hurt others, so I wrote my story with this understanding. Or as the expression goes, “Hurt people, hurt people.” If we can heal the injured person who bullies, then that person can be changed or healed. As the adage says, “Healed People, Heal People.”
Writing A Shattered New Start was a way for me to bring awareness of the magnitude of bullying that has plagued our world for centuries, and in 2020 especially. Sadly, it seems to be continuing into 2021. One thing I learned is that conflicts and challenges are more easily resolved if people are able to see things from other people’s viewpoints. As the adage says, “walk a mile in another’s shoes.” We need to respect other peoples truths instead of ostracizing them. That is especially true now more than ever because our present historical situation.
I purposely wrote my book with multiple perspectives surrounding the issues many teens face, including the viewpoints of an average teenager, their parents, their teachers, and the principal to show that everyone has their own points of view. A Shattered New Start shows the human side of bullies. They are really hurting people who take their pain out on others.
My book also uses a unique approach to dealing with bullies. Most schools deal with bullying with a punitive punishment approach, like suspensions. Typically, the aim of punitive approaches—the most common approach to dealing with bullies in schools—is either to punish the offender or to satisfy feelings of revenge. The bully in my story undergoes a restorative justice (some may call it a form of healing circle) approach. The bully, Ryan, faces his victims, endures his victim’s wrath, and shares in the process with his victims in determining his consequences. I believe my book, A Shattered New Start, has a powerful message for young people, or anyone really. I do cover other themes, such as friendship struggles, in the book since bullying isn’t the only issue teens face.
When I really think about the question I was asked, I wrote the book in hopes of making a difference in young people’s lives. Our youth are our hope for a better future. The 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said: “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.” That’s what I hope my book can help do. Perhaps Nelson Mandela said it best when he said: “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” The world has enough wounded leaders.
I wrote A Shattered New Start for young adults (YA), namely junior and senior high school aged children, but the book could appeal to any age, especially those who have been victimized by a bully which is most of us. Parents of bullied children could also relate to this story. Any educator or professional who advocates for anti-bullying could could make use of my story. You can find links to where to purchase the book on my site (see top menus). Feel free to email me at email@example.com . I would love to chat.