While sticks and stones may break bones, words really can hurt. But what's the responsibility of everyone in the orbit of teenage drama? Emily Bazelon wrestles that question to the ground in her important new book, "Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy."
Focusing on three cases, including one in which teens faced criminal charges after a classmate's suicide, Bazelon explains how these situations escalated into communitywide wars. She has an ear for high school and middle school relationships and how the power structure plays out in relationships among young people. She talks to the world's experts on bullying and explains how the meanness has evolved and how we all — from the cafeteria workers and bus drivers to the guidance counselors, principals and, especially, parents — play a role in what unfolds.
It has become conventional wisdom that the Internet whips up meanness, and Bazelon examines how those relationships evolve and extend what is happening in the rest of the teen orbit. She visits Facebook to address the differences between online and in-person relationships.
Educators and parents may read "Sticks and Stones" and understand what they can do about bullying. And while some teenagers may derive strength from its stories, others may marvel at how Bazelon re-created their world.
— Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor
'Sticks and Stones'
By Emily Bazelon
Random House, 400 pages, $27