“It’s not easy to start a new chapter of a book when you’re used to the page you’re on.” Bullied in progressively more and more viscous ways from 3rd grade through high school, nineteen-year-old Aija Mayrock has dedicated the last three years to writing this comprehensive, kid-friendly road map.
The Survival Guide to Bullying is all at once relevant, upbeat, heartbreaking, compassionate, and direct. Practical advice covering The Real You, Battlefield Scenarios, and Becoming Your Own Superhero never sounds condescending or superficial. The reader can feel Mayrock’s scars, and know that she writes with insider expertise. Sprinkled throughout this guidebook are also the author’s own poetry and personal survival stories.
Two key strategies Mayrock outlines are accepting one’s intelligence and using one’s creativity to achieve happiness. This strikes a chord, as most teens who are bullied severely give up their passions in an attempt to avoid ridicule or further pain. It just seems easier to hate everything instead of admitting to loving anything. However, that individual creativity is exactly what can heal the heart, clear the head, and help human beings find their purpose as adults. Mayrock herself overcame bullying to become a writer, actress, and filmmaker.
Personally, as a pre-smartphone-era old-school-bullying-survivor, I learned the most from Chapter Seven: #Cyberbulling. Here a secret treasure trove of torture is unearthed for all those parents, guardians, and other caring adults over the age of thirty. Face-to-face harassment and mean Photoshop were familiar to me, but I had never considered the absolute noose of hate-websites, blogs, polls, hacking, impersonation, “happy-slapping,” and general humiliation that could be updating anonymously at all hours of the day and night. It makes for claustrophobic reading, to say the least.
This is a book that needs to be in the hands of middle schoolers. Its cheerful notebook style, un-accusing tone, and realistic suggestions for each reader’s well-being maintains a beautiful balance. Bullies and victims alike may find answers here that they didn’t know they were searching for.
If kids in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade can learn to question early how “human” judgments, “innocent” anonymous mob-mentality, and “harmless fun” teasing will effect themselves and others in the long-run, their junior high and high school years will prove worthwhile… rather than only worth surviving.
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