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A convincing case against media hype and a premature rush to judgment.

A nuanced approach to the epidemic of bullying in American schools.

In 2009, Slate senior editor Bazelon began writing articles about cyberbullying. She shared in the growing concern about how social media can amplify the effects of bullying. After writing the first few articles, her focus shifted.  While cyberbullying is “changing the nature of teenage bullying,” it is still “a new incarnation of an old phenomenon.” Probing further, the author realized that bullying is more complex than she originally thought. She explores the part normally played by aggression (when teens jockey for social position) and contrasts this to occasions when a disparity in power exists (and could signify bullying). Failure by both parents and schools to intervene in order to protect victims on the one hand, and overreaction on the other, can lead to bullying. In extreme situations, complex legal issues involving the responsibility of school authorities may arise (including potential criminal charges when violence occurs). Bazelon also considers the way that the prejudices of school personnel or the broader community against people who defy conventional gender roles can tacitly encourage victimization. The author uses three major case studies to exemplify issues. The first illustrates how overreaction by a mother when her daughter was mocked led to an escalating situation. In the second, school authorities tacitly countenanced the abuse of gay teens, who successfully sued for violation of their constitutional rights. Lastly, a tragic suicide involved a girl whose detractors were charged with murder, even though they had no direct involvement in her death. In the concluding section, Bazelon surveys promising new approaches to dealing with bullying, and the appendix includes fact sheets and a resource guide.

A convincing case against media hype and a premature rush to judgment.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9280-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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