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Writer's Room => Research => Topic started by: deborah-albers on April 05, 2021, 05:44 AM

Title: Bullying
Post by: deborah-albers on April 05, 2021, 05:44 AM
Research for a children's book. What advice would you give you child if they saw their little brother pushed to the ground by a bully?
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: Vijaya on April 05, 2021, 06:38 AM
:welcome and a question: would you like this thread to be in research (so that more people would see it) or keep it here on the regional board?
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: deborah-albers on April 05, 2021, 07:57 AM
yes, please
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: David Wright on April 05, 2021, 10:51 AM
Is the bully older than 10? And is it one on one? It makes a difference. And being pushed to the ground is a lot different than fighting.

Bullies tend to like it when the odds are in their favour. Ten-years-old is pretty late to learn about bullies. But I would focus on the bully -- why he (or she) might be acting that way. There is almost always a better option than fighting.

For me, defending someone isn't the same as fighting. Fighting has an attack aspect. And generally, getting physical tends to escalate issues -- which doesn't solve the actual problem.
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: deborah-albers on April 05, 2021, 10:55 AM
Thanks David.
Multiple bullies, one kid. same grade as the 10 year old, but much older than the "little" brother who got pushed down.
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: David Wright on April 05, 2021, 12:24 PM
So fighting would be very much a losing proposition -- risking both physical pain and social isolation. If the MC has advanced hand-to-hand training they cannot fight either -- only defend.

I think it would be unusual to do more then help the brother stand and take him away from the group, and deflect any comments from the bullies.

How aggressive is your MC? Is he a street fighter? Is this a "tough" neighbourhood?
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: Barbara Etlin on April 05, 2021, 02:18 PM
This brings back a memory. Some bullies threw snowballs at me. It was two people ( counting me) against about five. My older brother, who was with me, defended me and threw snowballs back at them. He got into trouble for this and the bullies didn't. I still think it was the right thing to do.

By the time you find the right grownup to tell, the culprits will usually be long gone.
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on April 05, 2021, 06:02 PM
You can yell, "Back off" firmly and then focus your attention on your brother. Is he hurt? Are there adults around? Is the brother angry? Crying? Why was he picked on? Is it because I'm his older brother? So many details matter here.

But what would a ten year old actually do? Depends on the kid. My older brother never defended me about anything. I don't think he knew how. He was too much a victim of bullying in his own right. How likely are those bullies just to turn on the older brother?

Once you know your characters really well, you'll know how he'd act.
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: Mrs. Jones on April 06, 2021, 05:13 AM
All these suggestions are wonderful and will be helpful as you grow your story and your characters. But like Debbie says, reactions, etc. depend on the kid.

When we write for kids it's tempting to write a story to get a message about something like bullying across. But stories we love tend to be stories first, about a child on a quest for something, and we follow that kid because we're rooting for him/her to "fill in the blank."  By keeping the idea of a theme (could be bullying) in the back of our minds as we write, and NOT out and out writing about IT, the issue will more than likely come up organically and show what we want to show without feeling constructed.

Usually that's a more successful approach than beating the reader over the head (ha) with what we want to say. A character whose ONE AND ONLY trait and role in the story is being a bully is a missed opportunity. Rather than thinking about the bullying scene and the outcome first, maybe consider what brought each character there to your story, and then to that moment. The bully (antagonist), the protagonist, and the observers. Maybe approach each as a person. Who will play the role of antagonist? Why? Because of this, this, and this. What did he/she wake up to at home that morning? What did he/she eat? DID he/she eat? How does he/she do in school? Who are his/her friends. Then the questions go deeper: You're looking for the "why ?" of all of it.

Characterization includes traits and quirks, sure. But it's mainly about what each character thinks and feels, what they do, and the WHY behind all of it.

When you know your characters in that way, THEN they each come to a scene with their own histories and nuances. And then the answer about the "right" thing for each of them to do in that situation can come through in a real way.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Bullying
Post by: deborah-albers on April 06, 2021, 09:52 AM
such great advice - thank you all very much,  I am looking at this very differently now,