Poe Holly, the main character in Michael Harmon’s Brutal, is a rebellious and fearless teenage girl. Her self-confidence, defiance and sassiness all contribute to her questioning of authority and her inability to be a bystander to vicious bullying behavior. She puts herself in the eye of the storm in order to protect someone else, and gets beaten severely as a result. The clear and resonant message this story conveys is one of standing up against what is wrong and for what is right.
Where are these kids who are willing to throw their bodies in front of the bullies? Who are willing to risk their own safety to protect another? Who are willing to go toe-to-toe with the school administration, the school counselor, the cops, anyone who will listen and make the bullying stop??
I know that Poe Holly is a fictitious character and an almost unbelievable one in her tenacity and integrity. I realize it is asking a lot of anyone and I realize that having this kind of self-confidence, courage, and intestinal fortitude is pretty darn rare – at any age. Since we can’t seem to stop bullying, sadly, maybe we can help instill these traits, and hope for a few more of these “superkids” who will not tolerate bullying.
I know kids who stand up against bullying are out there, and I applaud them. I cannot sing their praises enough. However, the fact that there are so many books written about bullying tells me that there is still far too much of it going on. From elementary school all the way through high school, bullying in all its various forms exists, from name calling to cyber bullying to physical beatings.
I have personally read over 30 books for this website that have addressed bullying in some form. I know that some of these are very popular and widely read books. Hopefully each time a kid reads a book with the message that bullying is damaging and cruel and unnecessary, a little bit of it sinks in. Hopefully the messages the schools are struggling to get across to students to be upstanders intead of bystanders will stop at least one act of bullying and save one kid the public humiliation and pain that it causes.
There are truly some exceptional stories for tweens and teens having to do with bullying and providing positive role models who refuse to just stand by and watch. While it is fantastic that authors are writing such great books on the topic, it is so sad that they have so much material to work with.
We would love to hear some success stories where kids stood up for someone or stood up against bullying. Do you have any for us?