I’m sure many of you have been following the tragic Phoebe Prince story, the smart, attractive teen who took her own life in response to, essentially, being bullied to death. Nine classmates have been charged with her death, and I can’t help but wonder how many of them were tormenting Phoebe with no real idea as to even why she’d become their target. Now they’re facing prison, forced to live with the death of their classmate hanging over their souls forever, all because they wanted to be part of the “in” crowd.
You see, that’s how bullying really survives. Out of those nine teens, I’d venture to guess that only one, maybe two, could be described as a real ringleader—a person full of hate who truly took joy out of watching Phoebe suffer. I’d say the other seven or eight teens involved were merely going along, sending hateful text messages and Facebook posts, just to get their own warped sense of attention. They thought it was “cool” to bully Phoebe.
And that’s where our problem lies. Bullying someone, going along with the group, doing something you know down to your bones is wrong, IS NOT COOL.
It’s not cool to be too afraid to think for yourself.
It’s not cool to be too weak to stand up to your friends .
It’s not cool to torment a girl just because you’re afraid that if it’s not Phoebe who’s getting attacked, then it might be you.
Think about that: about seven or eight of those teens are facing orange jumpsuits and being forced to forever live with the fact that they caused another girl’s death all because they wanted to be “cool.”
So in an effort to really lift the stigma of bullying, to show how lame and damaging it is, a group of us young adult authors have joined an important new cause: YAAAB.
Young Adult Authors Against Bullying (YAAAB) is a new group (friend it on Facebook) founded by YA authors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. There are more than 50 authors in the group, myself included, with the goal of making sure every teen out there knows how uncool bullying is.
Because here’s the thing, we’ve all gone through it. All of us. In fact, we have so many personal bullying stories that we’re putting together an anthology to tell our tales. We want teens to know what we went through growing up, how vividly we still remember it, and how it affects us to this day. Because, believe me, it does.
So join YAAAB. Agree to make your classroom, your group of friends, your sports team, a no bullying zone. And promise that the next time you see a kid being teased, you won’t just walk by and ignore it. Think of Phoebe and think of all the classmates who saw what was happening everyday and did nothing. Say something.
Because standing up for someone, and something you believe in, is what really makes you cool.
POP CULTURE RANT: Philadelphia Eagles
I can’t believe they actually did it. I can’t believe they traded McNabb. There have been rumors for years that this could happen. But it was just gossip. I never thought they’d really cut him loose. But they did. And on Easter Sunday no less. Now, let me go on the record saying that I am a McNabb fan. I own his jersey. And even if he does throw a few too many passes in the dirt, I think when the dust settles on the football fields of history, this city will look back and realize he was the best quarterback we’ve ever had. Kolb is going to choke this season (yes, I said it), and we’re all going to spiral back to the sad years reminiscent of Rich Kotite or Koy Detmer and sadly gain the hindsight to appreciate the McNabb and Reid era for how great it really was. Wow, “was.” We’ll miss you, McNabb! See you twice a year with the Redskins!