Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls, by Lyn Mikel Brown. An informed, academic view of how girls hurt each other-and how our culture exaggerates this harm-by an education professor and activist. For parents and educators with the patience for academic prose.
Columbine, by Dave Cullen. The product of years of investigation into the 1999 suburban Colorado high school shooting, this groundbreaking work of reporting and thoughtful analysis deserves all the praise it has received. Cullen is especially sharp in writing about the psyches of the two shoots, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. An excellent read for everyone, teenagers included.
Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, by Mizoku Ito. A set of essays about growing up in the digital era, and how their access to the online world is changing kids. An ethnographic investigation, with twenty-three case studies, written accessibly.
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, by Wendy Mogel. My favorite parenting guide: indispensable, practical advice for parents about how to raise kids to be resilient. This book is written largely for parents of young children; for parents of teenagers, Mogel followed up with more excellent advice in The Blessing of a B Minus.
Schoolgirls, by Peggy Orenstein. The author vividly describes the lives of a variety of girls from two different schools in California, weaving in research to explore why adolescents think the way they do.
You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, by Vivian Paley. In this short classic, a kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School dissects social rejection among elementary school children. To combat it, she encourages students to say “You can’t say you can’t play” and, best of all, tells us their reactions. A great read.
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, by Alexandra Robbins. Mapping the social hierarchy of high school, from popular to outcast, this book follows seven kids with an eye to the qualities that make them stand apart and their journeys to self-awareness. Perceptive and well told.
Oddly Normal, by John Schwartz. A New York Times reporter’s acutely felt memoir about raising his gay son, who tried to kill himself after coming out to his classmates at the age of thirteen. Especially insightful about the challenges of advocating for a child with unresponsive school officials.
Odd Girl Out, by Rachel Simmons. An award-winning, pioneering book about the social intricacies of girlhood. Simmons is especially good on the subtlety with which girls can undermine each other-and the strength they can offer through friendship. In an updated 2011 edition she offers ideas for coping with bullying in person and on the internet.
Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry, by Lenore Skenazy. A screed against helicopter parenting. With zest and vigor, the author argues that giving children more freedom at a relatively young age will teach them to be independent, and that’s all to the good. A polemic that will especially appeal to like-minded parents.
Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, by James P. Steyer. The head of Common Sense Media argues for setting limits on kids’ Internet use and other screen time. With helpful age-based guidelines.
How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. The latest thinking on what it takes for children, rich and poor, to achieve in school and grow up to be productive adults. Excellent reporting and analysis.
The Parents We Mean to Be, by Richard Weissbourd. Strategies for raising moral and happy children, avoiding the extremes of too much or too little parental involvement. Persuasive emphasis on character development.
Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman. The inspiration for the movie Mean Girls, this book cannily analyzes the social structure of “Girl World.” Wiseman offers smart advice to both teenagers and adults. A classic of the genre. In Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads, Wiseman extends her sharp analysis to the world of adults, offering advice about how to deal with conflicts with teachers, coaches, and difficult fellow parents.
MOVIES AND VIDEOS
Growing Up Online. A PBS Frontline production about digital risks and opportunities for kids. www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/kidsonline.
I also recommend watching the movies and videos I listed above for teenagers and kids with them, or listening to books like Wonder on a long car ride. (My kids were mesmerized by that book.) It’s a great way to start a conversation.
ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to decreasing the number of suicides across the country. AFSP funds scientific research related to suicide prevention, hosts programs for those who have been affected by suicide or are at risk, and educates the public about suicide prevention. www.afsp.org.
The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, at Harvard University, explores cyberspace, studying its development, dynamics, norms, and standards, and assessing when and whether laws and sanctions are needed. cyber.law.harvard.edu.
The Born This Way Foundation, created by star Lady Gaga, focuses on youth empowerment and equality by supporting programs that address bullying and crises of identity. bornthiswayfoundation.org
Common Sense Media advocates for kids in the world of media and technology. It offers reviews and advice for parents about movies, TV programming, and games and has a campaign called Stand Up to Cyberbullying. www.commonsensemedia.org/cyberbullying.
The Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire conducts research on the problems of child victimization and maltreatment and family violence. www.unh.edu/ccrc.
The Cyberbullying Research Center provides information about the nature and consequences of online harassment and cruelty. The center’s website funtions as a clearinghouse for information about the use and misuse of technology, providing data, narratives, and resources to fight online aggression. www.cyberbullying.us.
The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University does research, education, intervention, and policy work on behalf of LGBT youth. The project tries to alleviate the risks of suicide, substance abuse, HIV, and homelessness by working with teenagers and their families. With the goal of helping families from varied cultural backgrounds mitigate suicide risk, FAP has developed a series of multicultural, research-based materials offering “best practices” guidance for families of LGBT youth. The Gracie Academy Bullyproof program uses martial arts as a form of self-defense. Instructors advise students to deal with conflict through dialogue and, if attacked, to use martial arts to gain control until help arrives. www.gracieacademy.com/bully_proof.asp.
SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), which works to reduce suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma, and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide. www.save.org The Sikh Coalition is a community-based civil and human rights group that focuses particularly on ensuring the Sikhs can practice their faith freely while being part of their local communities. The group works to mitigate backlash violence, including bullying, against Sikhs, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians. www.sikhcoalition.org.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has brought successful lawsuits on behalf of bullied students, including a recent case for LGBT students in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota. It provides materials on teaching tolerance, including the documentary Bullied about Jamie Nabozny’s lawsuit. www.splcenter.org
Stopbullying.gov, a federal government website, has information and resources about bullying- who is at risk, and how to prevent and combat it- from government agencies including the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. www.stopbullying.gov
College guide for LGBT students, www.accreditedcolleges.com/resources/lgbt-college-guide/
United Communities of San Antonio (UCSA), It is the intent of UCSA to make available a means to help the dialogue that is indispensable to the multi-cultural learning process, to reach out, understand and respect the different cultural styles of our increasingly diverse community. Each program/workshop is tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the participants and sponsoring organizations. www.ucofsa.org/