Tackling Bullying in a Children’s Book
Ralphie the Roach (2017) is a heartwarming children’s book that tackles a pressing societal issue – bullying. Literature has always been a platform for social commentaries. Millions of books aiming to change the status quo or provide solutions to existing problems are being written and published indispensably. The issue of bullying, particularly, has been the subject of countless literary works. From poems to novels, it seems to have become a matter worth writing about. In the actual world, bullying is a horrible reality. Hundreds and thousands of people around the world are experiencing bullying. Children, particularly, are very vulnerable to being bullied. This happens practically anywhere, most especially at school. To help you understand the issue better, this article provides a brief discussion on bullying and on how literature has been tackling it.
What is bullying?
Bullying is the use of coercion, force, or threat on a person to intimidate or dominate over him or her. It is the exercise of an unwarranted aggressive behavior to manifest a perceived power imbalance between two or more people. In a sense, bullying involves power play – the bully preys on the bullied to increase his or her sense of power.
Bullying comes in forms. Generally, there are three kinds of bullying: verbal, social, and physical. Verbal bullying is the utterance or writing of mean and hurtful things that includes teasing, name-calling, taunting, and threatening. Social bullying, on the other hand, involves tarnishing a person’s reputation or relationships. Embarrassing a person in public or spreading false rumors about him or her is an example of social bullying. Lastly, physical bullying happens when a bully hurts a person’s body or possessions. It includes hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, spitting, and breaking a person’s things.
Bullying is especially prevalent in schools. Small children are most vulnerable to being bullied by bigger and stronger children who love to fish for attention and exercise strength over the weak ones. In the United States alone, about one in three schoolchildren in grades six through ten is being bullied. More so, one in every ten American students who drop out of school do so because of repeated bullying.
Bullied children can go through several negative mental, physical, and academic problems. The common effects of bullying on victims are depression and anxiety, health illnesses, and decreased academic achievement. In extreme cases, some victims of bullying even end up committing suicide.
How does a book help in reducing bullying?
One of the prime ways to reduce bullying is to heighten people’s awareness of it and its effects. Literature, particularly, is an effective tool in expanding the reach of the anti-bullying campaign. For many years, hundreds of books about bullying have been written. Authors use literature to manifest their anti-bullying sentiments. Both academic and fiction authors have been producing extensive and creative literary works that lambast bullying and its perpetrators.
Bullying is especially necessary to be discussed in children’s literature. As previously discussed, bullying is particularly rampant in schools. Most of its victims and even its perpetrators are schoolchildren. For this reason, it is necessary to make children aware of bullying and its effects early – and this can be done with the help of literature. There are plenty of children’s stories out there like fables and fairy tales that center on the topic of bullying. Examples of these are Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney, The Bully Blockers Club by Teresa Bateman, and The Juice Box Bully by Bob Sornson.
In Ralphie the Roach, a children’s book about a bullied little roach, the negative effects of bullying are portrayed straightforwardly. It described the behavior as hurtful, unjust, and prejudicial. Ralphie, the main character of the story, was being bullied because he and his home were apparently ugly and dirty. Because of this, Ralphie one day came home from school sobbing and feeling extremely bad. In this simple narrative, young readers already get a glimpse of the horrible effects that bullying has on the emotional and mental states of its victims. In the end, stories like Ralphie the Roach teach children that being kind is absolutely better than being a bully. By portraying bullies and victims in children’s books, children are provided with an idea on what they should and should not be once they grow up.
Overall, no one can deny the fact that bullying is indeed a dire issue. It is not an isolated case of foes merely exacting revenge against each other. Hundreds and thousands of children are becoming victims of bullies every year. To find a solution to this long standing issue, awareness about it should be continuously raised.
Literature, particularly, has the responsibility of providing an avenue in which bullying can be discussed and debated upon. Children’s books that tackle bullying like Ralphie the Roach are, without a doubt, a necessity nowadays. These books do not just simply acknowledge the existence of bullying for the sake of having something to talk about. Instead, they also teach children about the dangers of bullying, particularly on the emotional, mental, and physical health of the victims. Ultimately, bullying is a monster that needs to be defeated. Literature provides a weapon that can be used to thwart the monster from becoming stronger.