Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’




Will You Raise a Bully or an Original? I See What You’re Doing and It’s Not OK

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Pondering

Ran into a couple fabulous articles this morning that converged into an unexpected blog post. The first article was in relation to something I read in the book ORIGINALS by Adam Grant.


I loved this book for a million reason, but there was a particular concept that stuck with me and intrigued me. It also got me thinking about another article I saw this morning. But before I can build the connections, here is the back story…

Adam Grant talks about how to raise creative, original kids and how that might relate to the heroes who were Holocaust resisters–saving lives while putting their own at risk. This concept really stuck with me as I examined my own parenting, because who doesn’t want to raise the kind of kids who have enough moral fiber to be some body’s hero some day?

My friend Lynda Mullaly Hunt writes books and raises awareness about the impact every day heroes can have on every day lives…

BE SOMEONE’S HERO. NO CAPE REQUIRED ~~ Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things


Lynda also writes and talks about how…


I’m here to tell you that can be a beautiful thing. I know this concept (as Lynda is using it) is rooted in a subject close to me–dyslexia. But I also think it’s bigger than that. An important component of raising creative kids (according to this article by Jessica Stillman) is to reason with your kids–to create kids who think independently and don’t just follow the masses.

Laying down the law can be easier than explaining why the law is as it is, but if you’re interested in future creativity, you should take the time to reason with your little ones. Citing studies on the early lives of heroes who rescued people from the Holocaust and highly creative architects, Grant suggests parents “help children think about the consequences of their action for others,”

Not quite sure what Holocaust resisters (incredibly brave as they may have been) have to do with creativity? Morality and creativity are intertwined, Grant explains in another, illuminating TechCrunch interview. “Kids who evolve into creative adults tend to have a strong moral compass,” he says. “They’ve been nurtured by their parents, who’ve talked with them and modeled values of excellence for them that [seed ] concern for the consequences of their [kids’] actions on other people. At the same time, they’re given a lot of autonomy to figure out how they want to live with those values.”

But then the fireworks of connection really started firing in my head when I stumbled upon another article. It made me think about why we struggle to raise kids who are morally and creatively rich. There is a sad cycle holding us back.

Meet the Newest Bully on the Block: The Mean Mom by Mary Beth Sammons

Area of concern for parents in the digital age

Our children aren’t just battling their peers, who are also struggling to learn who they are and what they are about. Our kids are being terrorized by the very people who should be making them feel safe.

The good news, Saltz says, is that if you’re alert to the toxicity of bullying behavior, you can deflect it and send a strong message to your children, by example, that mocking, manipulating and swinging blows at other people is not okay. If you’re looking to stop a bully in her tracks, the best way to do so is to confront the bully directly. “Call it out,” Saltz says on TODAY. “Tell the bully, ‘I see what you’re doing, and it’s not OK. Let’s not do that.”

She adds that moms need to stand up to mom bullies to create a bully-free world. Parents have to teach by example


Here’s the thing, we all know that raising great kids and protecting children from bullying is a great thing to do. In the abstract–this is a no brainer. But we don’t always see the world from a place of perspective. We see it in relation to our own needs and interests and fears. I sympathize with that–it is human. But so is admitting we are sometimes wrong and  need to apologize.

So, I’m just going to lay it out there. If you’ve made a mistake–we can get through this–together.

But if you think bullying is a great way to go–we can’t be friends. It’s that simple. I don’t condone that behavior. This is me telling you…


Sometimes we get away from our better selves. It happens. It doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us people who need to be more original. We need to step away from the status quo and decide that it might be harder to own our behavior than to live in denial. But being brave enough to do it, might also make us exceptional.

Some days I look around me and realized it’s quite an uphill battle to teach our children to be original, moral, kind and brave.

We live in an environment where we don’t just worry about children being bullied by their day to day life–we have to fight this kind of ignorance on a cyber front. We live in a time that allows people to do and say things they wouldn’t have enough courage to stand up and say to someones face–in front of others. It’s a scary place out there, but it’s worse when bad behavior takes root and hides in the dark. We can’t let that happen.

What I’m asking of you today, is to stand up and be an original.

Behave better than the average person.

And use the internet to shed light, instead allowing bullies to hide in the dark behind cyber shadows.

You can repost this blog. Or you can share your own message.

But please find a way to be heard.

Will you be a bully or an original?

Will you raise a bully or an original?

Will you stand up and say…

I see what you’re doing and it’s not ok?

I’m counting on you…


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Internet Whiplash

Filed under: Blogging, Community, In the Wild, Pondering, Technology

Lately I’m having an unusually hard time coming up with blog posts. At first I thought my struggle was because I’m busy, both with life and writing. And I’m sure that plays a role, but after careful consideration, I don’t believe that’s the truest of answers. I think the most accurate reason for being stuck is that I have internet whiplash.



Unfortunately, blogging and social media have begun to seem a bit off. Kind of the way state testing and the common core feels uncomfortable. I’m not against some testing or having standards. In fact, I think they can be wonderful tools, but there’s something, not-quite-right about the current state of our educational system or the things going down on the internet lately.

For the first time, the trolls and the cyber bullies feel bigger than the things about social media that give me great pleasure. And then there is the sheer intensity of the opposing and highly volatile online opinions. I’m not suggesting that I only want to hear one side of an argument. I love intelligent conversation–I really do. But it is April of 2015 and already I can’t deal with the political FB stress. The hate mongering. How will I ever make it until November of 2016??? I refuse to comment, but can I also stop reading? I think I need to.

Of course, I’m smart enough to know the internet is the same functional and dysfunctional slice of pie you see in any microcosm. You should see some of the screaming, crying, throw-down dinners that have been had in my family over the years. I’m no stranger to the cray-cray, in fact I can bring the cray-cray just as much as anyone. But somehow the rapid, viral reach of the internet seems more sinister than I’d ever considered it before. When I fight with my family and friends, we make up and eat dessert and stuff. The world wide web doesn’t do that. Instead of stories I’ll laugh about at my kids’ weddings, there’s online shaming, which is probably as easy to catch as the stomach bug in a day care facility.

This is where the internet whiplash comes in. If you want to be heard, you MUST say something worth hearing. If you say anything worth listening to, there WILL be people who dislike what you’ve said. If you’re lucky those people simply disagree with you, but if you’re unlucky, it’s highly likely that they’ll abusively attack you online. My feelings about this state of affairs are whipping back and forth with such intensity it’s almost painful. One day I feel brave, the next cowardly. One minute I feel energized, but the next it’s depressing.

I’ve been trying very hard to find the remedy to my internet whiplash. I’ve been searching for a black and white truth that would clearly define how I move forward with my cyber life. As you might expect, that isn’t really working out for me.  Today’s blog post sums it all up perfectly–writing makes me see things clearer, all while mudding the same water quite a bit. So, there’s only one conclusion…what I need most is to be unsure. If I’m rigid, I will get injured. Instead, I need to be bendy. Perhaps it’s time to be flexible and blog when it feels organic and not blog when it doesn’t feel good. It’s a scary but liberating thought for someone who’s blogged regularly for years, but I should probably only blog when I have something important to say or share.

Is anyone else dealing with internet whiplash? What’s the worst part for you? What do you do to combat it? How do you feel about blogging at the moment?

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A Range of Different Things

Filed under: Blogging, Community, Pondering

I’m cross posting at the YA Outside the Lines Blog today.

yaoutsidethelines copy


But this one felt important enough to also post in it’s entirety here…


Today I’m going to talk very briefly about diversity in YA, but in a way that is bit different than what I expected to touch upon. Initially, I’d planned on talking about being a girl. It interests me how girls are constantly trying to break glass ceilings in life, but in the world of YA literature, the lion’s share of what is produced tends to be very girl-centric. It bends my mind a little bit to play around with the implications. I wanted to discuss it. I wanted your thoughts.

But unfortunately I can’t really focus on that today.

I’m too disappointed.

When I looked up the definition of diversity it said…A RANGE OF DIFFERENT THINGS.


The word range was the link I needed to write about my growing concerns. More and more it feels like people all over the internet (even in my beloved YA community) are taking pot shots at each other. It feels as if cyber lynch mobs, toting guns that shoot high powered words, are running wild. There is a mob mentality that feeds off the frenzy of taking someone down a notch–of putting them “in their place.” But for what? It appears to be for being “wrong” or dare I say DIFFERENT.

I’ve been watching it unfold for quite some time, but recent events have kickstarted my thoughts. I don’t want to take up your time discussing why so many of us act so deplorably. It makes my head hurt to think about it. Instead I’d like to do one small thing to at least attempt to be part of the solution. I’d like to publicly acknowledge that there are moments when we absolutely should stand up and fight for our beliefs. Those moments are–wait for it–diverse. They mean different things to different people. But I’d like to believe the things worth fighting for (for most people) are good intentioned. Which leads me to bullying. Bullying never comes from good intentions. It is selfish and cowardly. It is small. And it’s not just something children do. I’ve seen a room full of PTA moms make another woman cry. I’ve watched as authors, teachers, police, soldiers and many other dedicated professionals are disrespected when they are trying to give. Perfection is not interchangeable with intention. I can’t remember the last time I was perfect. But there aren’t enough stars to mark how often I’ve tried.

Taking pleasure in making other people hurt is disturbing.

I don’t know how to stop it.

But I believe that small acts, done by many, have the power to make big change.

Haters are always going to hate, but let there always be more of us who are doing something great.

Every day it is your opportunity to be diverse in your thinking and in your actions. Today is your opportunity not to be a bully. It’s your chance to be a range of different things.

Tell me something great, people…

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Why the SCBWI Works–It’s Not Head Count, It’s Heart Count

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Family, Pondering, SCBWI, Writing, Writing for Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) lately. Okay–I always think a lot about the SCBWI. Type #scbwi into my blog and you’ll find post after post about how this group has been an instrumental part of my growth and development as a writer. But you’ll also see posts describing how my tribe has given me a safe place to fall and supportive hands to push me forward when I’m weak and insecure. I love this group.

Simultaneously, I’ve also been pondering the state of the world around me. And one of the things I’m seeing is an increase in adult bullies. It’s in the news–countries bullying countries. Religious, racial and political terror grows like weeds. There are bullies in corporations, schools and neighborhoods. Sometimes it even comes from the people who are teaching our children how to be kind. Our supposed leaders. It makes my head spin.

But my personal response, to what I often consider an epic wave of ugliness, is to be the leader I want to see in the world. Some days I’m more successful than others. But even when I’m at my best, my world has a small footprint. And that is what has me thinking about why the SCBWI works so well and is so loved by it’s tribe members. It’s a safe place. As big as it’s grows, it remains a family like institution where we are encouraged to look after the person to our  left and the person to our right. When you allow yourself to be close to people and to care about them in a very personal way, your small footprint overlaps with their small footprint and a clear picture begins to emerge.


This TED talk is a little on the long side, but well worth a few extra moments of your time. It’s amazing–one of my favorites.


The SCBWI is a great institution because it has great leaders, but I feel it’s an amazing institution because those leaders encourage everyone to step into the circle of safety and add their footstep–to be a leader in their own way. We continue to grow, not because of our head count, but rather because of our heart count.

If you aren’t a member already, put your best foot forward and join our circle of safety.



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Room 100 Holds the Secret to Fighting the War on Terror. Are you Interested?

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Family, Pondering

I am completely fascinated by this letter–A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About Her Future Husband) By Dr. Kelly Flanagan. It caught my interest and I can’t stop thinking about it.

After stumbling across destructive advice, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly Flanagan writes a letter to his daughter about what really matters in a relationship.

“…Because in the end, Little One, the only thing you should have to do to “keep him interested” is to be you.

Your eternally interested guy,


Quite a few thoughts have been running through my mind since my fellow Wolf Pack sisters, A.N. Remtulla, tweeted about this letter on Father’s Day. I’ve though about my Dad, my husband, my boys and myself. But as a mom, I keep coming back to my own children. I’ve come to realize that not only do I want to raise my boys to think and act this way, but I also want them to be treated this way by the females in their lives. Boys deserve to be loved for all the right reason too. I don’t want someone to marry them for money or reasons lacking in depth. I want my boys to have someone that loves and respects them. Like Dr. Flanagan, that is the one and only thing their future partner and I MUST have in common.

But the pondering doesn’t stop there. It feels bigger than just my own kids.

I’ve come to realize we are living in a generation of terrorism. And I don’t just mean religious and political attacks. We terrorize each other. Our children are born without prejudice and it is a beautiful thing, but it also means that someone is teaching hate and disrespect. There are too many children who find it easier to hurt one another than help each other. Whether we realize it or not, we role model how to be bullies or we turn the other cheek, pretending not to see what is happening in front of us. We put our heads down, afraid to step up and speak up, for fear of what it will cost us, forgetting that our children think everything we do is interesting. They rarely do what we say, but they often do what we do. It is time to flood the world with every day heroes. Enough small gestures can tip the scales…

I recently got to attend an end of the year celebration for my 4th grader. He’s in Room 100 and he’s been with the same teacher and the same group of students for two years, but that is not the amazing part. What brought me to tears was the sense of community and family that this amazing teacher created for these children. She made it very clear from day one that she found each and every one of her students interesting and valuable. I believe her gestures acted like an invitation. Take a journey with me. She was suggesting that if those kids invested in each other, they would find a classroom of interesting and valuable people. And they did. It was a gift.

There’s no bullying in this classroom. Some days there are kids who make mistakes–kids who make poor choices. But there are no bullies. There also doesn’t seem to be a lot of shame or insecurity. Instead there appears to be a lot of joy. They sing, dance, perform, joke, play and laugh. They cheer each other on. I wish I could show you the videos. It would make your heart soar. The potential. No one threatened them to “not be bullies.” Instead, they showed them how to be friends. There is respect, and it hovers around this class like an aura. It is beautiful to witness. So many of the things that seem to be “our issues” don’t seem to be “their issues.”

upset boy against a wall

There IS a difference between a child gaining resilience and a child being forced to survive.

Life and people will never be perfect, even in a great classroom in a really good school. In fact despite how much I adore what has happened in Room 100, I believe that my children still need to learn to roll with the punches–to weather other people’s mistakes. Life IS hard. They have to learn to navigate it in a healthy way.

I was recently reading a blog post by Kristen Lamb, on Handling Criticism, that included an experiment done in a Bio-dome. Under near perfect conditions, closely monitored trees planted within the dome, never grew as tall or strong as the trees that had to weather the storms outside. The trees in the wild were forced to make deep roots in order to hang on. Or grow tall to reach the sun. That is valuable. I do not want to take adversity away from my kids. It’s a tool they need to grow into amazing human beings. It is the doorway to kindness, empathy, success, self-worth and resilience. They need to learn to bend in the wind.

But they do not need to feel terror.

In Room 100, there isn’t perfection. There is not an absence of things gone wrong. Mistakes are made. Tears exist. But in the midst of all of that, something wonderful happened. Over the last two years, the teachers involved  with this class showed up. They lead and the kids watched very carefully. Then they became interested in changing their world for the better. Who would have suspected that Room 100 would hold the secret to fighting the war on terror?

Room 100 is the start. Are you interested?



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CRACKED by K. M. Walton

Filed under: Apocalypsies, Book Reviews, Critique, Reading, teamTEENauthor, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

So…funny story. Several years I ago I sat next to K.M. Walton at the NY SCBWI Writer’s Intensive. It was my second table of the day and we were right next to each other–unpublished, eager, sponges–looking for a way to get noticed or take our writing to the next level. We each read our page and a half of text and got our critiques. After the event was over, we stayed at the table to talk for a couple of minutes, admiring each other’s writing.

Fast forward to 2011 when I sold TOUCHING THE SURFACE to Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Who do I discover is also a brand new, soon to be debut author with me? You guessed it (but in all honesty I made it easy) it was K. M. Walton. Both of our manuscripts from the Intensives were going to be published to the same imprint LOL!

That wonderful manuscript that I got a sneak peek at that day sooooo long ago has turned into the YA novel CRACKED.


CRACKED by K.M. Walton

Victor hates his life. He’s relentlessly bullied at school and his parents ridicule him for not being perfect. He’s tired of being weak, so he takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills — only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. He’s the opposite of weak. And he’s tired of his grandfather’s drunken beatings, so he tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, things go from bad to worse. Until they discover they just might have something in common: a reason to live.

You can purchase a copy of CRACKED here…

*Barnes & Noble



Kimberly Sabatini’s Review of CRACKED… 

This book matters.

It’s a simple as that.

Bullying is a pervasive issue in our society today and more people need to be reading a book like this. Why? What makes this one special? I have a few reasons why I think this is a stand out. But first, I’ll be honest with you… K. M. Walton is a friend, an Apocalypsie and a fellow author at Simon Pulse. I sort of wish this wasn’t true because there will be many people that assume that my respect and love for CRACKED is influenced by those connections. I’d like to take a moment to convince you why this isn’t true.

In the past I’ve been a special education teacher that specialized in children with emotional and behavioral issues. My father was a counselor in a maximum security prison. The first year I taught I can remember coming home and asking my dad…”Where is the line?” He looked at me funny, wanting to know what line I was talking about. Then I explained that the children I worked with were obviously victims. Their issues were clearly connected to the things that had happened to them in their lives. But what I wanted to know was if they couldn’t be helped, what day would they stop being victims and what day would they start to be bullies, offenders, abusers, prisoners? Suddenly everything was a blur to me. When might these children go from being someone I loved and wanted to help to being someone who might turn around to someone else and do the same things that were done to them? This thought and these children have weighed heavy on my heart all my life.

K.M. Walton doesn’t give me the ultimate answer to this bigger than life problem, but she throws ropes to her readers–giving them something to hold on to. More important, she raises question and she does it will great skill. I don’t think any one book or one person can give us the answers to such a large hole in humanity, but this is the kind of book that asks us to dig deeper as readers. It is a book that crakes creates sparks–the hope of illumination. It renews the fire within me to make the world a better, safer place–to stand up and have a voice. It helps me to put the people around me into perspective, so I can better navigate those who hurt. Because bullying doesn’t happen to just children. It reminds me that the world is not black and white–but grey–full of shades of truth that blur the lines between right and wrong, good and bad and ultimately life or death.

I highly recommend CRACKED by K.M. Walton and if you’re moved by the writing of John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson and K.L. Going, then I think you have a new hero to add to your bookshelves. If you read CRACKED I would love to hear what you thought. <3

K.M. Walton is the oldest of four girls and her three younger sisters are her best friends. Gag, right? But she’s serious. She openly challenges you to challenge her sisters’ awesomeness because there’s no way you’d win.

Moving on.

She has a mom, who is her other best friend. More gagging. Again, she says there isn’t a better (or cooler, or smarter, or more beautiful – inside and out) mom on this entire planet. K. M. apologizes to anyone reading this that thinks their mother is the best mother on the planet – she says it’s not possible for two women to hold the title, and her mom wins. So there.

She had a dad, a really smart and gentle dad who loved her the best way he knew how, but he passed away from cancer when he was only 51. Ouch. K. M. wants anyone out there reading her bio to know one thing: Love the people you love while you have them here – even when it’s hard to love them – because when they’re gone all you have left are memories. And you can’t hug a memory.

She’s also got this totally hot and totally cool husband that is, in every sense of the idea, her better half. She met him when she was 19; he was her next door neighbor in the dorm. Her stomach got all squishy when she first laid eyes on him and she announced to all of her girlfriends, in a rather dramatic fashion, “No one else can like Todd from down the hall because I like him, and I’m making him my boyfriend this semester.” Her friends all abided by her request. And she did make him her boyfriend; they’ve been together ever since. For the record, just so everyone knows, she’s still in love with him and it’s been 24 years since the day they met. Awesome, eh?

She has two sons who, you guessed it, are the best two kids in the world. Yep, another challenge. They are thoughtful and kind, genuine and funny, brilliant and creative, and she swears she couldn’t be more proud of how they are turning out.

K. M. had a dream when she was a little girl. Actually she had a gazillion dreams and she spent a large amount of her childhood dreaming. Her one dream was to be a teacher. Her three sisters – the same awesome chicks from the first paragraph – played her “students” in the basement while she played teacher. And they still like her even after that. Teaching became a reality for K. M. and she taught for twelve glorious and spectacular years – some of it in Osteen, Florida and most of it in Springfield, Pennsylvania (Hi, Osteen Elementary and ETR Middle School!!).

Writing, it turns out, is K. M. Walton’s favorite thing to do in the whole world. Even the hard parts – and there are a lot of hard parts. She is very, very thankful that she is where she is on her journey as a writer. And she can’t wait to see where the road leads her…


And if you love CRACKED, like anticipate you will. Watch for EMPTY expected out on January 1, 2013…

Dell is relentlessly teased about her weight, and she’s devastated when a tender moment with her long-time crush turns violent. Distraught and isolated after the attack, Dell’s depression—and life—spins out of control.

Finding that food no longer eases her pain, Dell turns to her mother’s prescription pain pills. But what starts as a quick fix rapidly escalates. How far will Dell go to make the loneliness, the self-loathing, the heartbreak, the shame, and the name-calling stop?

You can find out more about K.M. Walton and CRACKED and EMPTY here…
*The Apocalypsies
*Simon & Schuster
Today my fellow authors at teamTEENauthor are also talking about bullying. Here is a list of their blogs if you’d like to stop by and check them out…
Julie Cross–TEMPEST
Janci Patterson–CHASING THE SKIP
Jessica Corra–AFTER YOU
Hilary Weisman Graham–REUNITED
Have you read CRACKED? Any other great books on bullying that you loved and think are important? Have you been bullied? How did you handle it? Are you being bullied and need help?

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