I went to see Emily Bazelon speak yesterday with Dave Cullen (who wrote Columbine) at the New America Foundation about her new book, Sticks and Stones, which I have been listening to on Audible (<3!).
I never really thought I’d be particularly interested in bullying, but I really really appreciate Emily’s nuanced take on the issue, as Dave pointed out last night. She focuses primarily on the case of Phoebe Prince, a girl who committed suicide after suffering from depression for years and dealing with some harassment from classmates, who were then charged with crimes basically claiming that they had led to her suicide. Emily focuses mostly on the importance of teaching kids empathy, and how bullying primarily comes out of kids just not being empathetic to the particular kid they’re bullying. Which is really interesting, and while I’ve not been terribly interested in understanding bullying, I’ve always been fascinated by empathy, especially because I have been obnoxiously highly empathetic (one of the most extreme stories about this is coming home crying to my mom in first grade that another kid was being picked on by the teacher). I’ve sometimes wondered if I’m too empathetic, if it’s a way to escape what I personally am feeling. Regardless, I guess it’s made me not a bully. And interested in class and oppression, which are things I’m so so very happy to be interested in. My emotional investment in social justice is certainly rooted in my empathy. And though it can be exhausting and overwhelming at times, I wouldn’t give that up.
I’d definitely recommend the book–Emily is a great writer (you can also find her on MY FAVORITE THING EVER, the Slate Political Gabfest), and as I say, really treats the subject incredibly eloquently. I really can’t express enough love for the Gabfest–they are so so so awesome. And I definitely make it a point to see, hear or read Emily, David Plotz, or John Dickerson whenever I can.
Also, got my hair cut tonight. Yay!