Perspectives on Bullying

The bully, the victim, and the bystander.  The Weird series explores all three perspectives in a simple, straightforward way that will encourage kids to think about their peers in a new way.  We aren’t “good people” or “bad people.”  We are complex individuals with motivations that you can’t always see at first glance.

In Weird, Luisa is teased for her clothes and her family.  She wants so much to be herself, but in the face of the teasing, she withdraws.  Her colorful clothes go in the garbage, and she finds herself embarrassed of her father’s speaking Spanish.  Eventually she receives support from a peer and a teacher to be herself.

In Dare, Jayla recalls her feelings of being bullied and explains that when she sees Luisa being bullied, she was just happy it wasn’t her.  She even bows to pressure to join in with the bullying before she realizes that she can do something to stop it.  The girls learn that as friends they can accomplish more than they can keeping to themselves.

That isn’t where this story ends, though.  In Tough, we see things from the bully’s perspective. We see her home life, and we read her thoughts about having a thick skin.  Kids are likely to understand and relate to Sam’s feelings, and her point of view gives readers a chance to think about the reasons we act the way they do.  It doesn’t excuse the bully’s behavior, but it highlights the need for empathy from each girl.

Teachers, counselors, or other discussion leaders can use the back matter to get kids to talk more about the story, the perspectives, and their own experiences in each of these roles.  While I acknowledge that the series probably has more appeal to girls than boys, the message is valuable to all young readers.  Each book opens with these words to readers:

“For all children,

young and old,

who have been bullied,

Don’t lose sight of who you are

Know yourself

Be yourself.”

Blogger:  Mindy R.