I just read the wonderful EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, by one of my favorite authors, A.S. King. It's about a kid who's bullied for years at school and how he comes to terms with it. Lately I've also heard of a couple of really disturbing bullying incidents experienced by kids I know, some as young as seven. We've also experienced the effects personally at home with one of my daughters.
I write for kids like this, the ones who feel incurably awkward or somehow just not part of the things everyone else is part of. This is why my characters are never perfect beauties, never the envied pack of popular girls, never the sophomores with sixpacks (abs, that is. Beer, well...). Those "I'm alone in this" feelings are ones I understand on so many levels. Here's hoping that good stories make these kids feel less alone.
I try not to blog too much about the obvious. Bullying is bad! Mean people suck!
But unless you've gone through it yourself or with someone you love, you might not fully appreciate how swiftly some people excuse it, sweep it under the rug, or blame the victim.
Obvious as it is, I wish more adults insisted that kids be kind. I wish more adults spend more energy being kind themselves. It's not difficult to do. It's a habit, like brushing your teeth. It costs nothing more than a bit of thought and time. But its absence lays waste the soul the same way bombs destroy a city. It costs so much to rebuild, so much is lost, and so much will never be the same again.
Here's hoping we can all be a little kinder to each other, starting today.