You can feel summer in New York City already – it hit 90 degrees over Memorial Day weekend. As my time in the classrooms of New York City’s independent schools comes to a close, I have been stocking up on my summer reading list – I can’t seem to shake this habit from my own schooling!
Jessie Klein’s book The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America was published this past March. Ms. Klein examines how the proliferation of school shooting from 1979 to 2009 were indicative of bullying culture. In my view, Ms. Klein’s book highlights our failure as a society, dismissing bullying as a part of growing up and a rite of passage that some young people have to endure.
Ms. Klein notes that in all the cases of school shootings she examined, the shooters were young men who were often bullied for not measuring up to the social norms of masculinity. In turn, these young men took on the role of being the ultimate bully, annihilating their peers and teachers. By viewing the school shooting epidemic through the lens of bullying, we undoubtedly can see how the vicious cycle of the bullied becoming the bully can have lethal consequences.
Additionally, Ms. Klein examines this issue on a macro level
The rigid status hierarchies found in today’s schools have not developed in a vacuum. They come from a larger, more encompassing set of values, generated by what I call a bully economy. Economic and cultural trends associated with extreme capitalism, including sever income disparities and related values pervasive in popular media, have helped institutionalize masculinity prescriptions (i.e. aggression and dominance) and intensified gender policing in multiple forms.
I just started reading the book over the holiday weekend and I’m eager to finish. I’ll share my full thoughts upon completion. If you have read the book or have any other summer reading suggestions (on bullying of course) please share!
School bully photo available from Shutterstock.