Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Lisa, a teenager and the protagonist of my book “If Only…” simply can’t help herself. She’s miserable at home with an overpowering Mom who doesn’t get it. She’s miserable at school, constantly trying to keep up with her schoolwork and her friends.
This feeling of “I’m not good enough,” begets more misery, and alongside that, the bullying creeps in on all fronts. Bullying comes in all kinds. It can be subtle, it can be intimidating, it can be coercive. All types of bullying may play out verbally, digitally, physically, etc. and all are equally harmful.
Here are a few excerpts from my YA contemporary teen fiction that depict different types of bullying.
Lisa’s Mom’s thinks she knows what’s best for her daughter but she’s not really listening:
She seemed angry when she said, “So, Lisa, another failing grade on your history exam… what’s wrong with you? Look at Gina here, always an excellent student. You have so much extra time to study since you’ve stopped your singing lessons. What’s your excuse?”
Lisa’s peers aren’t very understanding of her learning disabilities and her daily struggle in school. Surprisingly so, neither are most of her teachers including the principal:
1. A few minutes later, standing in line for the roller coaster ride, Pam’s best friend Nicole turned to me and said “Why are you tagging along? Shouldn’t you be with your own friends, Hayley and Jasmin from gym class? They don’t have any brains, but they have a lot of muscle.”
I looked at those two witches and said angrily, “You two deserve each other!” Then I shoved them both, almost knocking them down to the ground. G put her arm around me and said, “I am Lisa’s best friend. Get out of our faces.” They left us alone and G said, “Where do they get off?”
I said, “Why the hell did I come?”
2. I fell into my seat up front, praying that Mr. Harris wouldn’t check my homework today, my damn knee shaking again. No way I had time to do it. Yesterday was Math tutor day.
Mr. Harris was really tall and big with a ponytail, and he usually wore jeans and a denim shirt. He was so big that when he walked up and down the aisles, the floor shook. I cringed when he stopped at my desk and looked straight at me, “Lisa, let me see your homework.”
“Sorry, but I didn’t have time to do it. I’ll prepare it for next class.”
He sighed and said, “Please go down to the principal’s office.”
“But Mr. Harris… I…” Mr. Harris wouldn’t listen.
He said, “Go, now!”
I shouted back, “Hey, aren’t you going to listen to me? You’re just kicking me out? That’s so unfair.” My voice was so loud, I was giving myself a headache.
He pointed his finger towards the door. “Lisa, you’re out of here.”
Lisa’s boyfriend Marty, sorry to say, is the kind of guy that eggs her on to a self-destructive path. Lisa easily falls into that trap:
Marty said, “Don’t worry, no big deal. We’re just having some fun.”
I asked for a beer. I thought that would excuse me from smoking a joint, but that wasn’t how it worked. The joint was passed around and there was no way I was getting out of this one. Everyone was cracking jokes, laughing. It was Marty’s turn, and I was next.
I wanted to say, “I’ll pass, not into it,” but before I could say anything, Marty put his arm around me, giving me a squeeze, “Don’t be a drag! Try it!”
I said, “Really, pass it on, I’m not into it.”
Trisha asked, “So what are ya doing here if you’re not into it?”
“Marty brought me.” Marty poked me hard with his elbow and whispered, “Come on, this stuff isn’t gonna hurt you. Do it for me.”
Lisa doesn’t deserve to be bullied, no one does. She deserves understanding and compassion. When I put myself into Lisa’s head she’s thinking, “Why are you bullying me?”