By Rachel Aydt
Wednesday at noon, on the Uptown Stage, four YA authors gathered to discuss their new book project Dear Bully, a spirited anthology that has gathered some of the industries best to crack open the shame and hurt of being bullied—and bullying. The panelists were Ellen Hopkins, Lisa McCann, Megan Kelley Hall, and Mary Rose Wood.
To whet your whistle for the importance of this book, a few statistics:
- 75 % of students are bullied
- 20% say they’re bullies and/ or have engaged in behavior that either physically or emotionally hurt others
- 160,000 skip school everyday because they’re too scared to go
The idea for this book was born following the high profile suicide of Irish immigrant Phoebe Prince in January, 2010. “I put the idea out there and asked YA authors what they needed. Carrie Jones was first one who said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”
Following that, HarperCollins agreed to publish it. “Everyone had a story, and I was amazed…We wanted to give people hope by showing successful writers have been through this. There’s a light at end of tunnel. That’s why we created the Young Adult Authors Against Bullying group on Facebook.
“I didn’t blink twice to contribute,” offered McCann.
“I did hesitate,” offered Wood. “I write about children who were raised by wolves, does that tell you something about my childhood? Basically, her email handed my email a Kleenex.”
“Protecting kids from bullying is so much harder now with technology,” said Kelley Hall. “When I was in high school, you could go home at the end of the day and put it away. Now kids aren’t given the luxury of having that. I wanted to do this to create a safe haven for kids. It’s important to say to the world that bullying is not a rite of passage. We need to come together and let them know it’s not okay. If they can’t get help at home, then we need to help them.”
And help them they may…they’re currently working on getting the book distributed in schools, libraries, and perhaps most influential of all, President Obama’s anti-bullying commission.
Dear Bully is due out in August from HarperCollins.