[Interview] ‘Sticks and Stones’ Author Emily Bazelon Talks 5 Types of Bullies

Photos: (Getty, Paramount, CW Network, Universal, MTV Act)

Photos: (Getty/Paramount/CW Network/Universal)

We all know bullying sucks, but what are you supposed to do about it? Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon penned the book “Sticks and Stones” to talk seriously about bullying and what works and what doesn’t when dealing with it.

The book describes five types of bullies, and Bazelon told MTV Act about the different types and what you could do about them.

+ The Traditional Bully

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“There is the old-fashioned bully, who’s the playground thug from children’s literature and movies,” said Bazelon, giving the bullies in “Harry Potter,” “Encyclopedia Brown” and “Back to the Future” as examples. “Being more assertive is really helpful with this particular kind. This is often a bully who’s trying to be physically dominate, so if you’re assertive, that can often help.”

+ The Mean Girl (or Boy)

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Speaking about the next type, Bazelon said, “I often think of them as mean girls, though they can be boys, too. They’re more manipulative and use the world of gossip and social exclusion. They’re harder for adults to spot.” Just look at the cast of “Mean Girls.” “With the mean girls, you can go away from them and they lose power because they’re trying to make you feel terrible. The tricky thing is when you bring adults in. It’s really helpful if you find an adult you really trust who can help you problem solve, but just like telling a teacher, picking the wrong person can backfire, unfortunately.”

+ The Bully/Victim

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Next up we have the bully/victim. “Those are the kids who are in both sides,” she said. “They often have more serious problems.” She gave Snape from “Harry Potter” as an example, since he got bullied by Harry’s dad then turned around and bullied Harry.

+ The Henchman

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“There’s also the thug who’s a little more socially awkward, who’s more like the henchman to the lead bully,” she said. “I think that category starts sliding into the bully/victim. Crabbe and Goyle help Draco Malfoy, who’s the real aggressor. You have to unglue them from the person they’re following. Sometimes if they see other kids walk away from the person they’re following, they’ll walk away, too.”

+ The Facebook Thug

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The fifth type is the newest type of bully: the Facebook thug. “These kids act really brash online, even though they wouldn’t do that in person. There’s ‘Gossip Girl’ — their whole thing is a burn book that’s online.” Her advice? “You can complain and get posts taken down, and use Facebook’s own response system to tell someone you don’t like what they’re posting. You can print it out and take it into school to get help dealing with it. What you shouldn’t do is write back and add to the thread because that usually just feeds the vicious cycle. You can also take a break and get offline for a while.”

Bullying is a complex issue, and Bazelon’s book discusses different cases of it, how different people are trying to deal with bullying, and the best strategies and solutions. “Some of the most heartening research shows that most kids don’t bully,” she said. “When schools broadcast that to kids, the bullying rate goes down even further. Kids respond to the information that bullying is not normal and it’s not something most kids approve of.”

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