Author: Helen Carmichael Porter
Publisher: Northstone (an imprint of Woodlake Books, Inc.)
Audience: Adults, teens
Summary: The Bully and Me explores the many faces of bullying from the point of view of both the bully and the victim. The bullying takes many forms: teasing, physical intimidation, taunts, gossip, e-mail, and shunning. Little real violence is expressed, although some “off-stage” violence is reported in the stories (a bully learns that her victim attempted suicide, a victim engages in cutting, a group tackles a victim, a nose is bloodied, etc.) The book explores the idea that victim and bully are opposite sides of the same coin. Often the bully has been the victim. Victims triumph by attempting to change the situation. Not all victims succeed. This book is NOT a self-help book. It will, however, stimulate conversation between teens and the adults who care about them. It will open the eyes of adults who may not be aware of the variety of forms bullying takes. The book is accompanied by a CD containing three of the stories as the author would perform them before a live audience.
Literary Elements at work in the story: The book is composed of ten stories told from the first-person point of view. This lends a particular vividness and immediacy to the stories.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: The teens telling the stories are boys and girls, middle school (junior high) age and high school age, rich and poor and from a variety of ethnicities—all to emphasize that bullies and victims can be anyone.
Scripture: Genesis 1:27, Matthew 11:28-30, Zechariah 7:9, Colossians 3:12, Hebrews 10:34, 1 Peter 3:8
Theology: Compassion, caring for others, acceptance of differences
Faith Talk Questions: Each story ends with a commentary by the author and excellent follow-up questions and activities. An additional question that could be added to each list:
- Each person was created in the image of God. Where do you see the image of God in the victim? In the bully? In the people in your group? In yourself (for many people, this may be the most difficult)?
Review by Union-PSCE alumna Mary Anne Welch