I try not to play favorites with Lerner books. When it comes to our Spring 2016 list, though, I do have a title I’m particularly proud of. That title is Digital Safety Smarts: Preventing Cyberbullying (cover pictured).
In this title, author Mary Lindeen takes a truly innovative approach to the topic of cyberbullying. Too often, the anti-bullying books I’ve seen take a subtle-yet-noticeable “blame-the-victim” tack. They suggest that there’s a “reason” some kids get bullied. The truth, however, is that—just as in any situation where one or more persons abuses another—bullying victims do nothing to bring on the attacks. The reason bullying happens is because someone’s really hurting. That someone is the person doing the bullying.
If I could say just one thing to a kid who’s facing bullying, it’s this: It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Nobody posts cruel things about another online (or bullies them face-to-face, for that matter) unless they are struggling. Mary Lindeen realizes this, and for this reason, she implores kids who witness online bullying to report it. Kids who bully need help. They are in pain, and they need an adult to offer them constructive ways to deal with that. Adults so often don’t see what kids are saying to one another online—and so it is especially important when it comes to cyberbullying that kids take a stand and report it.
If the “report-it” and “it’s-not-about-you” messages were the only great messages in Digital Safety Smarts, that would be enough for me. But there’s more. This book has information on how to think critically about what you see online. It has tips on how to stay safe when navigating the digital world. I hope this book finds its way into the hands of many readers this spring, both old and young alike—for it has messages that I believe we all need to hear and take to heart.