Recently I picked up a book called “Please Stop Laughing at Me,” by Jodee Blanco. I quite literally could not put it down. It is a true story about how Jodee was cruelly bullied in grammer school and high school. From the back cover of “Please Stop Laughing at Me:”
“Activist and youth advocate Jodee Blanco has written the book that has inspired a movement in our nation’s schools, and that is swiftly becoming an American classic. It is the first book written by a survivor of peer abuse. Inspired by the thousands of letters she receives from students, parents, teachers, and adult survivors, Jodee has committed her life to turning her pain into purpose, becoming one of the nation’s most sought-after keynotes speakers, seminar presenters, and crises consultants. Her story of survival and forgiveness has drawn the attention of the national media, as well as recognition from the United States government. Jodee is also the author of “Please Stop Laughing at Us…One Survivor’s Extraordinary Quest to Prevent School Bullying,” the sequel to this book. Please visit Jodee’s Web site, http://www.jodeeblanco.com for more information.“
I cried my way through this book, and I also looked up Jodee Blanco’s website. Scott Pelley did a segment about Jodee’s work with children, and it was outstanding. It is said that many school shootings happen because the shooter was bullied to the point that he/she could not live with the pain and hurt any longer. This of course does not warrant all school shootings that sadly have happened too many times.
Should you read Jodee’s book, it will change your life forever. I am going to attend my 50th class reunion this summer, and, although I was never really bullied, I certainly did not fit in with the “cool kids.” There was a boy I worshipped and I used to pray that he would talk to me, get to like me and even take me out on a date. I told my dad about my little fantasy and his brutally frank reply was this: “You aren’t his type. He won’t ever date you, because you’re not a cheerleader or part of the school elite.”
As much of a crusher as that was, it made me realize my real social worth. However, our school started a drama club and pledged to have two shows every school year. Each year there would be a musical and a dramatic play. The first musical was “The Music Man,” and I got the lead role of Marion the Librarian. From that time on, right until the last of my senior year, I was in plays. Sometimes I got a lead part, other times I was in the chorus. But it didn’t matter; theater changed my life and gave me a goal, a purpose and something to be good at.
On stage, playing a part, I wasn’t me; I was the character I portrayed. It was so much easier to be that person than be me. In a show, you learn the lines and know what lines the other people in the play have. You know what’s coming, and you know exactly how to react to the other players. It’s nothing like real life where you don’t know who is going to say what and when. Theater was my safe haven, and no one and nothing could hurt me while I was in a play.
These days with social media and cameras on everyone’s phones, no one in school can be sure that they won’t be photographed naked in the shower after gym. They can’t be sure that someone may betray their trust by emailing everyone a private talk only meant for one person’s ears. It has to be nerve-wracking to be a school kid today.
In the segment Scott Pelley did on Jodee Blanco, she said to her student audience: “It isn’t about the bad things you do, but all about the nice things you don’t do.” I have been so moved by this book, and I hope that you will take the time to read it yourself. It is a massive eye-opener.