Last week, Writer’s Digest kept tweeting me about nine free books to download in celebration of school starting back. I finally decided to check it out and download a few things. One that stood out was a memoir on school bullying by Jodee Blanco called Please Stop Laughing at Me. In the memoir, Jodee Blanco describes her adolescent years from fourth grade through high school, which were plagued with teasing, taunting, pranks, physical abuse, and the struggle to fit in somewhere. Now a successful woman in the PR and publishing industries who has interviewed celebrities, organized celebrity appearances, and launched successful books and movies, she writes about attending her twenty-year high school reunion to book-end the tale. Sitting in her rental outside of the reunion, she relives these memories again.
If I hadn’t read the preface and learned of her speaking engagements and all day bullying awareness/prevention seminars, it would be hard to tell that the message of the book was how to prevent or overcome school bullying. Most of the book is spent on the things that are done to her, the lack of help her parents and teachers were, and the fact that even those that weren’t cruel to her were afraid to help her or speak up for fear of the same treatment. In short, she outlined a lot of the problems faced by those being bullied, but this book didn’t offer many solutions (maybe the sequel does). The unnerving thing seemed to be that instead of anything actually helping her, she…just grew up and moved on with life, which is what adults were telling her would happen.
To be fair, there were people in her life and things that she did that provided momentary relief from the torment while she was going through it, and she glazes over good periods in time to relate more bullying, but the effect is that this all seems unrelenting. Add to this Blanco’s theater background, and it’s easy to see how after a while, I became a little numb to much of the teasing and abuse myself (I feel ashamed to admit it, but it’s true). Blanco constantly had to up the horror factor to pull me back in after long passages of how depressed it all made her, which I don’t doubt happened.
Overall, I think it’s a must read for anyone who has children, works with children, was/is a victim of bullying, or who bullies people. I think it’s important to understand the psychological impact these things have on a child’s psyche that reach far into adulthood, whether you’re the abused or the abuser. It’s important to note not everyone grows out of bullying behavior, nor does everyone “get over” being teased.
- Bullying Affects a Quarter of High Schools Students (usnews.com)
- 91% of teens say they were bullied: survey (marketwatch.com)
- Back 2 School: Is Your Child Being Bullied? (wycd.radio.com)
- Teenage girls sue over school bullying (heraldsun.com.au)
- I Think My Child Is A Bully – What Should I Do? (education.com)