My publisher, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, is putting together a middle grade anthology on bullying. The deadline is fast approaching to submit short stories that might just impact the behavior of young readers and help stop the emotional and physical bleeding that is so prevalent in our country right now.
Studies have shown that most anti-bully programs target children too late. By the time kids hit their tweens, their behavior patterns are set. They’ve already learned that they can bully and that they can get away with it. EBP and acquisitions editor, Cat Woods, are looking to inspire change in children before they become another statistic.
The cost of bullying is steep: emotionally, educationally, physically and financially.
- Targets of bullies are more likely to skip class or quit school than their peers.
- Targets of bullies are more likely to drink, use drugs, inflict self-harm or commit suicide than their peers.
- Career bullies are more likely to end up behind bars than their peers.
- Bullies often begin their bullying careers in the early elementary ages.
- Physical bullying often peaks in the sixth grade, while cyber bullying in middle school and high school is on the rise.
What can you do to help?
- Stand up against bullying. When you see it happen, don’t look the other way. Usually all it takes is for one adult to remind kids that hurting others isn’t appropriate. The way I approach youth in public or at my home when they cross the line is to say, “I don’t know how you talk to/talk about/behave/act like at your house, but (insert offense) is not how we do it at mine/in public.”
- Model appropriate behavior for your kids and your peers–because, yes, even adults can bully each other, or children. Nobody ever has the right to hurt another. In fact, my kids’ kindergarten teacher had the best rule in the world, “Never hurt anyone on the inside or the outside.”
- Tell your story to those who need to hear it. Sadly, almost everyone can share a moment in their lives when they have been dismissed or degraded. When we share our stories about how we dealt with the pain, it empowers others to stand up and stop the cycle of hurt.
- Learn as much as you can about bullying and pass the word to the kids in your life. Bullies can–and most often are–friends or the peers kids want to be friends with. They are not generally some big kid who hangs out on the playground and beats smaller kids into submission. Tell them that watching another kid get hurt and humiliated without saying something is just as harmful as the actual bullying. Bystanders have a responsibility to say “no”.
Want to do more? Send your short story to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in the anti-bully anthology.
- Stories can be told from the point of view of the bully, the bullied or the bystander.
- Stories should have a clear resolution to the bullying that is child-driven.
- Stories must be appropriate for kids 7-11 and can include a wide array of settings and scenarios. Be creative. Give kids characters they can relate to and solutions they can understand and mimic.
- Do not preach. Contrary to popular belief, writing for kids is not simply dumbing down a story. It is not just another way to nag kids about morals and values. It is a beautiful and rewarding opportunity to show kids another way to deal with their lives while telling an engaging story. In other words, the story comes first.
- Maximum word count is 2,500. While this might seem easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, remember that all stories (juvenile ones and adult ones) require solid characters, strong plots and engaging story arcs. Same elements, smaller word count. Challenging is the word that comes to my mind.
- Submissions must reach Miss Woods by February 15th.
- Publication date: May 5th.
As a side note, writers whose work is accepted for publication will be paid in bylines, a copy of the anthology and a link to any website or blog you would like peeps to find you.
Lastly, even though I will not be writing a story for this much-needed anthology, I would appreciate any support you give the project. Keep May 5th in mind. If you have kids, know kids or love any middle grade kids, this would make a great gift for their summer reading list. This anthology will also be a great tool to open communication on the topic at home, at school, at youth group, or on a sports team.
Regardless of whether you submit a story or purchase a copy, I ask that you support the kids in your life and in your community. Help them reach their potential and become something great…not just another statistic.