The Sequel To The New York Times Bestseller “Please Stop Laughing At Me”.
With her New York Times bestselling memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me… the shocking story of how she was tormented by her classmates from elementary through high school, Jodee Blanco sparked a landmark movement in our nation’s schools. In this compelling sequel, she responds to the demand for more information from teens, parents, educators, and other adult survivors like herself who have come to know and trust her as the champion of their cause.
She provides advice, answers, and solutions, set against the dramatic narrative of her own deeply personal journey as the survivor who unexpectedly finds herself the voice of America’s forgotten students. Persuasive and enlightening, this is the definitive work on school bullying, and the story of America’s rejected youth from the perspective of the one person with unprecedented access to the truth about what’s going on in our schools. Travel with her as she witnesses the apathy of teachers and administrators who ignore students in peril, and celebrate with her as she meets adults in the school systems who are risking everything for their students. The author exposes both the strengths and vulnerabilities of a nation too clouded by empty rhetoric and self-defense to understand the crisis that is crying out to be addressed.
In the new edition, available now, Jodee includes an updated introduction, separate Q & A sections in the back of the book for parents, educators, and universities, along with a deeply personal and moving new epilogue.
Glossary of Key Terms from Please Stop Laughing at Us… The Sequel To The New York Times Bestseller Please Stop Laughing At Me…
- Adult Survivor of Peer Abuse™-an adult who was chronically bullied and/or shunned by his classmates and who has been scarred by this abuse.
- Aggressive Exclusion™-the most damaging form of bullying, often used by Elite Tormentors, best defined as a deliberate omission of kindness. Examples include letting someone sit alone at lunch every day, ignoring someone as if he’s invisible, always choosing the same person last when dividing into teams in class, letting someone walk alone to class and never inviting him to participate in social gatherings.
- The Ancient Child™-the typical profile of the bullied student, best described as an old soul, a kid who’s blessed or cursed, depending upon how you look at it, with a stronger conscience, and a more evolved sense of compassion and empathy than other kids his age. No matter how hard he tries to hide it, in the end, the sensitive, thoughtful adult inside him usually wins out over the teen who just wants to belong.
- Arbitrary Exclusion™-when a best friend or group of friends inexplicably turns on someone and persuades everyone else in the clique to follow suit. This form of bullying rarely precipitates any specific act, but seems to come out of nowhere, which is what makes it so devastating.
- Compassionate Discipline Driven by Curiosity™-enlightened innovative disciplinary strategies that help children discover the empathy inside them and develop it like a muscle. Its purpose is to teach children the joy of being kind as opposed to the consequences of being cruel, which is the focus of traditional punishment.
- Elite Leader™-the caring, compassionate popular student.
- Elite Tormentor™-the mean-spirited popular student who employs subtle, insidious forms of bullying such as Aggressive Exclusion and Arbitrary Exclusion.
- Empathy Deficit Disorder™-a chronic lack of empathy that inhibits a child’s access to the compassion inside him.
- Irreverent Educator™-the teacher with the instinct of an activist. He or she isn’t afraid to stand up to authority or challenge the status quo and will break the rules when necessary. The Reverent Educator is the teacher who respects the rules and prefers established policies and procedures to get things done.
- Note: Both types of educators are equally vital to the system. One is the catalyst for change, and the other the facilitator, and it’s the blending of the two that makes a school run efficiently.
- Rejection Junkie Syndrome™-a form of self-sabotage experienced by many peer abuse victims in which a person grows so accustomed to negative attention from his classmates that when they finally do leave him alone it’s like a death, and he finds himself provoking them to bully him again because if he’s being ridiculed at least he knows he still exists. It’s as if circumstances drive him to make a choice between being a no one and being a target.
More About the Book
Chapter One: The Wounded Healer…………………………..1
Chapter Two: The Rebirth…………………………………15
Chapter Three: Learning to Walk in Different Shoes………….31
Chapter Four: The Adult Survivor………………………….53
Chapter Five: The Real Versus The Surreal………………….67
Chapter Six: Out of Control………………………………85
Chapter Seven: The Little General…………………………101
Chapter Eight: It’s Not Just Joking Around!………………..113
Chapter Nine: Revelations………………………………..139
Chapter Ten: A Twist of Fate……………………………..151
Chapter Eleven: A Soldier Returns to the Place of Battle…….183
Chapter Twelve: Our Maiden Voyage…………………………201
Chapter Thirteen: Everything Old Is New Again………………237
Chapter Fourteen: An Unexpected Epiphany…………………..265
Chapter Fifteen: The Toughest Audience of All………………281
Chapter Sixteen: If They Would Have Known Then……………..301
Chapter Seventeen: The Moment of Truth…………………….329
Chapter Eighteen: Desperate Parents……………………….349
Chapter Nineteen: Slammed………………………………..379
Chapter Twenty: The Wounded Healer Reconsiders……………..389
Chapter Twenty One: Dorothy’s Rainbow……………………..399
Educator Q & A………………………………………….429
Parent Q & A……………………………………………435
University Q & A………………………………………..441
Program Title: It’s NOT Just Joking Around…………………449
About Jodee Blanco………………………………………455
Glossary of Key Terms……………………………………459
Chapter 18 – Desperate Parents
Parents are the wild card when it comes to school bullying. Even the caring, loving ones sometimes feed off the drama and make the situation worse or they let their anguish destroy their good judgment. They can also be overly-protective to the point of smothering. Then, there are those parents who inspire me with their wisdom and restraint and who don’t allow their personal baggage to get in the way of what’s best for their child. All of them are kindred spirits doing everything possible to help their son or daughter only to keep hitting brick walls. By the time they turn to me, many of them are convinced I’m their last hope. I’ve leaned how to cope with the pressure of their expectations and feel honored by their willingness to trust me. It’s the emotionally absent parents that are hard to take. Whether they’re burdened with severe problems of their own or they’re simply self-absorbed, the reason for their negligence doesn’t matter, because it’s always the child who pays the price.
Eileen and I have been back on the road for nearly a week. We’re in a gym at a school in Florida. It’s early evening, and I’m about to take the stage for my parent/family seminar. This is always the hardest lecture because by nighttime, I’m weary from having given presentations all day and intervening with kids in crisis. There are some nights when my vocal chords will be ravaged and I’ll croak my way through the seminar.
The parent/family seminars are open to the public. Sometimes, like tonight, they’re packed, with people having driven hundreds of miles to attend. Other nights, I’ll be lucky to see ten seats occupied. A lot of it has to do with how aggressive the school district is in spreading the word, and Eileen and I are always grateful to those that make an effort. Typically, the audience consists of adult survivors, educators, and students who heard me speak during the day and who return with their parents at night. Sometimes kids will ask me during the one-on-ones if I’d telephone their mom or dad and urge them to come. Eileen and I always honor these requests. Once in a while, a reluctant parent will surprise us. But some kids still come back alone and I can see it in their eyes how much they wished their parents would take an interest in the pain they’re going through. If those moms and dads only knew how much this small gesture of their time would mean to their child. After the seminar, I always do a book signing, and then sit down with anyone who needs me to listen. I usually start the evening seminar at 7:00 P.M. and rarely get back to my hotel before midnight.
Tonight, I’m on edge. Earlier in the day, I met with a large number of students in crisis. Some of them are dealing with dysfunction in their families on top of being bullied at school. Most of these kids aren’t looking for answers as much as they’re seeking an adult to validate their pain. I’m pleased they confide in me, but the responsibility grows more daunting every day. Earlier this afternoon at the middle school, a group of girls approached me, saying that their friend Tammy was in trouble and they didn’t know what to do. When I met Tammy, I could tell something was wrong. She was skittish and unsure. Her friends told her that if she didn’t tell me what happened, they would.
“Tell me what?” I asked, growing more concerned.
“Go ahead, Tammy,” they pushed.
Tammy pulled up her shirt. I gasped in horror. Across her chest down to her stomach, her skin was blistered and peeling from what appeared to be a serious burn wound.
“Sweetheart, what happened to you?” I asked, shuddering.
Tammy’s eyes filled with tears, but she wouldn’t speak.
“Tammy, please, you have to tell me,” I begged.
“My sister threw a pot of boiling water at me,” she finally managed.
“Oh, my God, honey. Why?”
“I don’t know,” Tammy stuttered. “She was in a bad mood, and sometimes when she gets like that, she does
“How old is your sister?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“Do your parents know about this?”
“I only have foster parents now, but I told my foster mom,” she replied. “Except-” She hesitated, her expression
“Go on,” I gently pressed her.
“I told her it was an accident, that my sister and I were making soup and the pot fell,” she said. “I was afraid they’d separate us if I told the truth.”
“Tammy, your sister is troubled, and unless you’re honest about what she did, she’ll never get the help she needs,” I explained. “May I have your blessing to call your foster parents and see if they can come to my seminar tonight and then talk with me afterward?”
This is where I feel as if I’m always walking a tight rope on tour because even if Tammy begged me to keep her confession a secret, ethically and legally I couldn’t, but I don’t want to betray her trust either.
“OK,” she answered meekly. Thank God.
Please Stop Laughing at Us… is a raw, unabashedly honest chronicle from America’s preeminent anti-bullying activist
The award winning sequel to The New York Times bestseller “Please Stop Laughing at Me”…
“There’s an audible gasp from the audience, and as I look out into the bleachers I see more kids in tears. Others are glancing at each other nervously. A few are rocking back and forth, staring ahead. It begins to dawn on me that I’m tapping into something here that I may not be prepared for. Apparently, the teachers aren’t, either. I see them shooting worried glances at one another as they realize they’re going to have to deal with the aftermath. No one expected anything like this. All I keep asking myself is what have I opened up?”
Please Stop Laughing At Me . . ., Jodee Blanco’s New York Times bestselling memoir about how she was shunned and tormented by her classmates from fifth grade through high school simply for being different, sparked a movement in this nation’s schools and inspired thousands of pleas for help from people who came to recognize her as a kindred spirit. Since its release, Blanco has been responding to those pleas, working deep inside the trenches of America’s schools sharing her still painful experiences to prove that bullying is not just joking around, it damages you for life.
Please Stop Laughing at Us… is the sequel to Blanco’s memoir and is the shockingly honest account of that journey. Written in response to the demand for more information from her devoted audience-teens, teachers, parents and other Adult Survivors like herself, who have come to know Blanco as the champion of their cause-it provides advice and solutions set against the backdrop of her dramatic personal struggle adjusting to her new life as the survivor who unexpectedly finds herself the country’s most sought-after anti-bullying activist.
In Please Stop Laughing at Us… , Blanco brings readers with her as she crosses and re-crosses the country, occasionally making headlines, from Northern California to Baltimore, Maryland, bringing her anti-bullying campaign to high schools and middle schools. She takes them inside the cafeterias and gymnasiums and vast auditoriums where she shared the story of her painful past to more than half a million students, conducted workshops for teachers and school administrators, as well as meetings with the parents of students who were being bullied and the parents of those who were doing the bullying. In this intimate chronicle, Blanco also lets readers sit in on her one-on-one sessions with the most damaged and frightened victims, some of which became suicide interventions.
Blanco also divulges in Please Stop Laughing at Us… how, during her campaign to awaken the American educational system to the danger in its midst and to offer beleaguered students comfort and hope, she made a devastating discovery about the state of public education in America. She found that an environment disturbingly similar to the one she was forced to endure as a student was still being permitted to flourish 25 years later, and worse, that many educators either did not recognize or were deliberately ignoring students in peril.
More than an exposé, Please Stop Laughing at Us… is also the story of America’s rejected and bullied students from the rare perspective of the one person with unprecedented access to the truth. Blanco witnessed first-hand the rage of this nation’s youth, droves of whom, after hearing her speak, would confide what they too had suffered at the hands of their peers and sometimes even their teachers, revealing a side of America’s schools the public rarely sees. The book also provides a stunning window into the strengths and vulnerabilities of a nation too clouded by rhetoric and self-defense to understand what really needs to be done. Readers will learn about:
- Teachers and administrators who bully students
- Apathetic superintendents with hidden agendas
- Zero-tolerance policies that inadvertently empower the bullies
- Why some administrators deny there’s a bullying problem in their schools
- Students who bully teachers and principals and get away with it
- Student rapes that go unreported in an effort to avoid public shame and embarrassment
- Parents who tragically contribute to their children’s ostracism
Though Please Stop Laughing at Us… discloses the bitter reality of adolescent suffering in many schools, it also celebrates the heroic efforts of countless educators, students and parents who are making a difference in their districts. Blanco tells of:
- Suicides that were averted because of teachers willing to risk everything to save a student
- Students who risk their lives to protect a tormented classmate
- Principals who take on the system and even jeopardize their careers to fight for a child who’s been wronged
- Bullies who beg forgiveness from their victims in an effort to make things right
- Shunned and forgotten students who rally their schools and make headlines getting anti-bullying policies implemented
In Please Stop Laughing at Us… Blanco also:
- Identifies the Adult Survivor of Peer Abuse, a distinct population of individuals previously unrecognized
- Codifies concepts that have now become terms of art in the field, such as “Elite Tormentor,” “Empathy Deficit Disorder” and the “Ancient Child”
- Identifies the profile of a typical bullied child
- Provides strategies for students on how to respond if you are being bullied by a classmate
- Defines the two types of bullying and why one is innocuous and the other dangerous
- Explains why bullies and victims are the flip side of the same coin and how to help both
- Offers specific advice on what to say and what not to say to a bullied child and why
- Delineates the warning signs for parents and teachers that a child is being bullied or is the bully
- Introduces disciplinary methods that evolve a child’s self-esteem rather than dissolve it
With Please Stop Laughing at Me… Blanco saved lives. With Please Stop Laughing at Us… she will help to save futures.
Jodee Blanco is the author of The New York Times bestselling memoir PleaseStop Laughing at Me… . She is also a youth advocate and the creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed, “It’s NOT Just Joking Around!” anti-bullying program. She lives in Chicago.
Title: Please Stop Laughing at Us…
Author: Jodee Blanco
Publisher: BenBella Books
On turning pain into purpose…
“I try to visualize a box. Sealed inside it are the darkest emotions from my adolescence. Immediately before every speech, while I’m waiting offstage to be introduced, I say a prayer. God, what I’m about to do is hard. Please don’t let it be for nothing. Help me get to those who need this message the most. Then I rip open the box and unleash the toxins inside. When my talk is over, I take a deep breath, suck all that rage and fear back into the box, and put it away until next time.”
On being An Adult Survivor of Peer Abuse…
“I don’t know it yet, but I’m far from alone in my inability to shake off the primal hold the popular crowd from school still has over me. In fact, I will soon discover that there are millions of others who are just as ashamed and embarrassed about it as I am. We work, we dream, we marry, have kids and grow old, and rarely does anyone ever suspect the truth. Our classmates put a hole in us, and our self-esteem keeps falling out. We’re constantly scooping the broken pieces off the floor and stuffing them back inside, like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, hoping no one notices… we are Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse, a ghostly population of individuals struggling to break free of your influence. And the worst part is that most of you never meant to hurt us. You probably don’t even remember making fun of us. Every time you rolled your eyes as we passed you in the hall, snickered at our attempts to win your approval, or made us the butt of a joke, you may have believed it was all in good fun. And when you see us today at the mall or the grocery store, you smile and make small talk, unaware of the damage you’ve done. The bully never remembers. The outcast never forgets.”
On being an activist…
“I begin to have doubts that I’m as strong and unselfish as I thought, and that maybe I’m like the bride who elopes, then discovers that she was never cut out to be a wife. The problem with being an activist is that people expect courage and selflessness from you all the time, and when you need some privacy, not only do they often think less of you but you think less of yourself, too. Then one day you wake up with a chip on your shoulder the size of a cue ball. I don’t want to become that whiny author-activist I often had to work with during my publicist days, who resents how much she’s had to sacrifice. The night before my first talk in Baltimore, I come crashing into this realization, only to have the angelic hands of hope wrap around my throat and choke the fear out of me. Will I get to the point where I’m more afraid of hope than of doubt, because hope is guaranteed never to let me out of this relentless race?”
The scariest question the author continues to ask herself…
“Every time I talk to my former classmates about our shared past, I always end up pondering the same disturbing question: What part did I play in the drama of my own ostracism? And how many other kids today are coming home from school as I did, confused and in tears, desperate to unravel the mystery of why, no matter how hard they try, they don’t fit in? The victims of bullying always want to believe that it was never their fault, that they were shunned and tormented simply for being different. But is it that simple?”
The truth about school bullying today…
“The public sees only the surface of what’s going on in our schools. The media does the occasional story when there’s a dramatic or tragic angle that justifies the airtime. The government gets involved only when the threat of bad press leaves it no choice. But as I’m going through these e-mails, I’m starting to realize that not even I fully understood the extent of the problem. I believed what happened to me was extreme. I’m finding out now that it wasn’t. Based on what I’ve heard these past few weeks, my experience was typical. How is that possible? And why are so many kids telling me they’re afraid to go to their parents? What’s wrong with everyone?”
A mistake too many parents and teachers make…
“My parents and my teachers told me to ‘ignore the bullies, don’t give them the satisfaction.’ Today, I think of all the adults who give kids the same advice. I still don’t understand the logic. We preach to our children not to be bystanders, that if you see someone getting picked on, stand up and defend that person, but if you’re the one who’s being harassed, ignore it. Isn’t that a mixed message? It always made me wonder, why was I less worth defending than someone else?”
Why some adults in the school system need to quit their jobs . . .
“Those who make it harder on all of us are the battle weary professionals in a system where compassion has been eclipsed by cynicism. Disillusioned with their jobs, they use the same tired old psychobabble on students, who then respond by shutting themselves off even more from adults. These are the kids who are turning to me, and they deserve more than clichés and empty promises. Looking back on my own life, I know exactly where things went wrong: the innocent but costly mistakes my parents, teachers and other adults made and how to avoid them; what I could have done differently to improve my situation; why the schools I attended were a breeding ground for peer abuse; what all those therapists who were treating me never understood, and what many doctors still don’t understand about their adolescent patients. I have insights, answers, real solutions that only a survivor can know. But will people listen?”
On feeling overwhelmed by too many desperate students…
“One after another, they keep coming: the quarterback of the football team who says he’s always been a jerk to anyone who’s not popular and wants to know how to change; a sixth grade girl whose friends turned on her because they found out her father was serving ten years in prison for selling drugs; an obese student in foster care who begs me to adopt her… At one point, unsure I can take any more, I get up and peek through the doorway to see how many more students are waiting to see me. The line is still extended to the end of the hallway.”
Why traditional punishment doesn’t work and may even contribute to school
“All we’re doing with traditional punishment methods like detention and suspension is making angry kids angrier. And where are they going to release that rage? Not in the direction of the popular students or their friends, because that would be too much of a social risk. Instead, they direct it toward the most socially expendable kid at school, the outcast. And then, when the outcast finally snaps because he’s tired of being the scapegoat, everybody is scratching their heads wondering what happened. Our faulty system is what happened. If these schools thought I came on strong before, if certain principals and superintendents were wary of my unconventional ideas before, watch out America, because I’m just getting started!”
Why so many principals feel cheated by the American school system…
“I never really thought about how tough certain principals have it. The way most districts work, the principal has the authority to hire faculty, but not fire them. The most he can do is make a recommendation to the superintendent and the school board, but they have to approve the dismissal, which can be an elaborate process. I wonder how many teachers have gotten tenure that don’t even belong in a classroom because a principal who feels helpless and has convinced himself there’s nothing he can do looks the other way. Districts that don’t empower their principals lose in the long run because a tired, discouraged leader is no good to anyone.”
On being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of chronic school bullying…
“But what am I supposed to do? I can’t just walk away from this cause, especially now. Think of all the adult survivors like me who are also going through life worried they’re crazy. At least letting them know they too might have post-traumatic stress disorder gives them something concrete to work with. Half the time, these people are told they’re just being overly dramatic, and they need to forget the past and move on. I can’t quit now and abandon them or the kids who need me. I just can’t!”
On damaged families…
“One bullied girl who confessed to me she’s been struggling with her mom reaches out and squeezes her hand. Another girl rests her head on her dad’s shoulder while he gently strokes her hair, his expression a mix of remorse and relief. Watching these parents and children finding each other again is overwhelming. School bullying just doesn’t damage kids, it damages whole families.”