Google+ Reading Teen: {Indie Spotlight} Bullying is No Laughing Matter

Saturday, February 28, 2015

{Indie Spotlight} Bullying is No Laughing Matter


Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head? You know, a song you haven't heard for a while. Suddenly and unexpectedly it pops into your head and goes into repeat cycle.

It is funny, but a little frustrating. Over and over it plays, making you want to sing along. Often it is at inopportune moments, like when you are at work or school. When you are supposed to be concentrating on something else.

Kids who are bullied experience something similar to this. But the song they hear is not so funny. It's words include lyrics written by their bullies and sang over and over again.

You see, the bully assembles the most painful and embarrassing words to each victim's ballad.

Lyrics may include phrases like:

"You're ugly."

"What a wimp!"

"You're a freak!"




"Why don't you go kill yourself."

The words, because they are repeated whenever the bully has a chance, collect in the mind of the victim like some recording. These lyrics also come back at the most inopportune moments for bullying victims, filling their minds. Moments like when they are feeling down, feeling like they have failed or feeling unloved. And over and over, the mental song plays.

It is as if the bully was in control of the victim's mental jukebox and had a fistful of quarters just for them.

But, whereas a fun song can lift someone up, these lyrics pull the listeners farther down. Down farther than they were at that moment when the song began to play. Sometimes it leaves them in a pit of despair.

I know the Song of the Bullied because it plays in my head. For 10 years, a group of bullies sang a song of cruelty to me growing up. Fortunately, today, the song doesn't play in my mental jukebox as often as it used to, thanks to the help of some counselors years ago. But, on occasion, when I'm feeling low, it does begin to play again. I can get rid of it now, but takes some effort.

In recent years, I have begun to give presentations on bullying. Many people don't understand the power of written or spoken words.

Sometimes people say, "Bullying is just a little teasing. Kids will be kids." Yet, how can telling someone to go kill themselves be just a "little teasing"? How can labels like "freak" or "slut" be considered a harmless joke? And who are they learning these words from?

We are all responsible for the songs we leave with others. Please, think about your own lyrics as you sing. Your words can impact others for years to come!

And, just as important, if you know someone who has been bullied, take some time to teach them a new song. 

Millions of Americans follow the adventures of Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Luann, Dick Tracy, Gil Thorp and other top comic strip characters. We love to laugh at their adventures-and their misadventures. But, as the title of this powerful new comic book declares: Bullying Is No Laughing Matter. This full-color paperback represents a historic "team up" of America's cartoon favorites, who are springing from the funny pages into this big new book. They're united in encouraging kids to support each other when someone begins picking on them. National research shows that new forms of bullying follow kids wherever they go-inescapably plaguing them through social media on computers and smartphones. Some of the comic artists contributing to this book have even added personal notes sharing their own experiences with bullies-or offering brief words of encouragement to kids. This book is a unique resource encouraging kids to build supportive relationships by starting with familiar characters they may have grown up with or will enjoy meeting in these pages. Many of these brief comics are presented as discussion prompts, starting a story about bulling and then inviting kids to consider: What will happen next? How would you respond? The format of this comic book is unusual. It's a "flip book" with two covers and two pathways through these comic adventures. The front cover takes kids (and the adults who love them) through dozens of individual comic panels and strips. Most of these pages contain personal notes from the creators of these comics. The "other cover" takes kids (and their parents, teachers and youth leaders) through a graphic novel starring a youthful super hero, The Cardinal. The Cardinal confronts a seemingly horrible "enemy"-the Warthog-but readers discover that there's far more to this bully than we guess in our first glimpse. In the middle of the book, The Cardinal author and artist Kurt J. Kolka tells his own story of overcoming the effects of bullying, and Camille Paddock, a teenage girl who has become a real-life hero for her own triumph over bullying tells her story as well. Amazingly, readers discover that the Warthog and young Camille share similar crises in their lives. Kids can easily internalize these lessons about compassion and the courage necessary to help end bullying. Bullying Is No Laughing Matter unites 36 nationally distributed comic strips, many of them specifically addressing the issue of bullying for the first time in this publication. Readers will enjoy colorful visits from such regulars on the funny pages as Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Dennis the Menace, Dick Tracy, Funky Winkerbean, Gil Thorp, Luann, Stone Soup, Mary Worth, and many more.

--Kurt J. Kolka is an anti-bullying advocate, award-winning journalist, cartoonist and bullying survivor who has researched the subject of bullying for more than three years. With assist from many cartoonists, he has put together a book of comic strips and advice from those cartoonists on how to deal with bullying. It is called "Bullying is No Laughing Matter." Kurt and several of the cartoonists shared their own stories of being bullied and how they survived inside. The book is available through and other online outlets. There is also a website, Kurt may be contacted at

1 comment:

  1. Aw, hugs. Gorgeous post Andye. <3 Thank you for sharing about this :) I got bullied a lot while in school. Hmph. It was kind of the worst. Sigh. But it is all done with now, so I'm okay with it :)


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