The power of literature is enormous. It has been repeatedly used as a weapon in fighting against incessant societal evils. One of these evils is bullying – a social ill that has been victimizing many people for so long. Bullying does not choose its victims. People from all walks of life, regardless of their gender or skin color, are being victimized by this hostile behavior.
Because it is continuously rampant in the society, an increasing number of anti-bullying campaigns is being launched all over the word. Over the decades, there have been massive efforts from governments, civil organizations, and individuals to suppress or at least reduce bullying in the society. Among those who have been fighting significantly against it for a long time are authors.
Authors like Lydia Greico – who has dedicated the majority of her literary career to writing anti-bullying sentiments – have long been using the literary platform to condemn bullying. These authors have been writing all sorts of literary work, from essays and poems to magazines and books, that aim to make people aware of bullying and its negative consequences. To put it simply, these authors have been using literature as a weapon in fighting against bullying.
Bullying exists almost everywhere – at work, at school, at home, in public places, and more. The society is not new to this hostile behavior because it has been existing for a long time. Yet, despite being around for so long, no one stills seems to have become successful in coming up with a solution on how to suppress bullying in its entirety.
Bullying involves power imbalance between two or more people. It is the deliberate misuse of power in a relationship through a habitual physical, social, or verbal behavior that intends to cause physical, social, emotional, and mental harm to a victim. In simpler terms, bullying happens when someone persistently hurts another person on purpose, either by actions or words, in order to make him or her feel awful.
There are three main forms of bullying: physical, social, and verbal. Physical bullying involves hurting someone’s body or possessions including acts like punching, pushing, kicking, and spitting. Social bullying, on the other hand, involves damaging someone’s character and relationships through public embarrassment or slander, for example. Finally, in verbal bullying, harm occurs when someone says or writes foul things to or about another person. This includes name-calling, taunting, and threatening.
As mentioned, bullying occurs almost everywhere. However, it is mostly prevalent in schools and in workplaces where power trips are a commonplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out five children in the United States alone is being bullied regularly. Meanwhile, in the corporate world, around seventy-five percent of workers experiences bullying at work.
Bullying has a number of negative effects, particularly on victims. Among children, bullying can cause anxiety, depression, and decreased academic achievement. For victims in general, bullying fosters fear, loneliness, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.
Writing about Bullying
With the increase of anti-bullying campaigns comes an abundance of books that talk about the issue. Indeed, authors saw the potential of literature as an effective medium for raising awareness against bullying. In schools, for example, literature helps students tackle the sensitive issue that they would otherwise disregard or keep to themselves. In workplaces, likewise, literature helps workers stay loose or stand their ground by giving them some ideas on how to cope with their issue.
However, when talking about bullying in books, authors must see to it that they stay away from stereotypical clichéd characters or situations as much as possible. For example, if books only depict bullied people as ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’, then it will be difficult for victims who do not identify themselves as such to relate to the characters being portrayed as bullied. Therefore, when writing about bullying, authors must ensure that their characters are realistic and multidimensional; their stories are appropriate and honest; and their books explore how to work out the existing problems.
Here are some books that effectively tackle bullying:
- Because It’s Wrong: Bullies vs. Nazis by Lydia Greico
- Face by Benjamin Zephaniah
- The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
- One by Kathryn Otoshi
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Harder They Fall by Bali Rai
- Anita and Me by Meera Syal
Overall, the pervasiveness of bullying is utterly upsetting. The longer it stays in the society, the more people it victimizes and the more extreme are its consequences. For this reason, it is important for governments, civil groups, and concerned individuals to continue the efforts towards eradicating and reducing this social ill. Particularly, the efforts of authors who use their literary platforms for a greater purpose are very much needed now more than ever. With the help of literature, more and more people are becoming aware of and sensitive to the issue of bullying. Although it may seem small, increasing people’s awareness and sensitivity to bullying is a vital step toward