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Last Updated: Jan 10th, 2011 - 11:11:15

Reviews - Books  

Please Stop Laughing At Us - Review
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Mar 18, 2008, 17:06 PST

Please Stop Laughing At Us by Jodee Blanco is a book that every school counselor, teacher and parent should read. A look at schoolyard bullying from the victims point of view, this book is a dash of cold water on the face of those who would write off the problem as something that’s “just kid stuff.”

In a world where it has become almost routine for kids to walk into their schools with guns to exact their retribution on those who have teased, taunted, and otherwise abused them; it’s time for the adults to stop looking the other way. Abuse at the hands of other students and amazingly even at the hands of teachers can no longer be dismissed lightly.

My daughter was taunted by a student in elementary school, and was not stopped until he had escalated to lighting matches and throwing them at her one day after school, in an attempt to catch her on fire. That finally caught the attention of the administration and the student was expelled and put into a program where he could get the help he apparently so desperately needed.

In another event years later, an out of control teacher had administration turn a blind eye to his actions despite complaints by my daughter and other students about his abusive behavior. Complaining students were quickly labeled “overly sensitive” and ignored. Disaster was only narrowly averted when he finally came completely unglued and angrily threw a sword at a student in his stage combat class. Once again, the administration finally woke up when faced with the extreme actions of an out of control teacher. A student could have been severely injured or even killed when this teacher snapped, and if the administration and counselors had not summarily dismissed the complaints of the students, he might have received the help he needed before the crisis in his life escalated.

Why has it been okay to tease and ridicule a certain group of children in school. Colleges finally caught on that it was not only detrimental, but flat out dangerous to allow hazing as part of the Greek tradition in college. This form of taunting and teasing went beyond anything someone should have to endure. My pledge year was one of the last that was subject to this arcane form of legitimized torture, and I for one am thrilled that it no longer is tolerated. Likewise, it is time for us to stop tolerating the ritualized torture in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

It is NOT okay to stand by an allow a kid to be stuffed into a locker, or nearly drowned by a “swirly.” If you defang the bullies on the first abuse, life will get better. Bullies gain strength with repeated attacks on weaker students. Stop them quickly and hopefully the chain of abuse stops with them.

When Columbine occurred it seemed an aberration, a one time occurrence, but it wasn’t. More students have died at the hands of those who were tormented beyond their limits. Jodee Blanco has the ability to explain student abuse in a way that both students, parents, and administrators understand.

Part of the book, Please Stop Laughing At Us, is about the author’s journey on the lecture circuit. Part of the recounting of the details of the appearances could have been trimmed, leaving the book a lighter and more forceful piece of publishing. With that aside, I still feel that everyone involved in education today should read through this book, and hopefully finally learn that bullying is not okay. There’s nothing endearing or cute about a bully. Boys won’t “just be boys,” they will actually get the chance to become good men if redirected towards a good path at the beginning. School doesn’t have to be an arcane torture chamber, we can reclaim it for it’s original purpose of education.

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