Remember, on the 20th of February, a wonderful initiative called #1000Speak kicked off? It was during this that I reconnected with Galit Breen, a wonderful blogger. In her post for last month’s #1000Speak, Galit mentioned her experience with being bullied online and how indirectly it resulted in her writing a book. I had read about Galit’s terrible experience earlier and admired her approach and the equanimity with which she dealt with the situation.
When I heard that the theme for #1000Speak this month is ‘Building From Bullying‘, I knew I had to interview Galit and share my review of her book.
Expected publication: April 7th 2015 by Booktrope Publishing
If kindness wins, accountability rules. The need for this mantra is never clearer than when scrolling through posts and comments left online.
Approximately four out of ten kids (42 percent) have experienced cyberbullying. When we were young, our bullies weren’t usually strangers. They were the kids who passed mean notes about us in class, the ones who didn’t let us sit at their table during lunch, and the ones who tripped us in the hallway or embarrassed us in gym class. Cyberbullying isn’t all that different from the bullying of our youth and nightmares. But with social media, our bullies have nonstop access to us–and our kids. In fact, we’re often “friends” with our bullies online.
When freelance writer Galit Breen’s kids hinted that they’d like to post, tweet, and share photos on Instagram, Breen took a look at social media as a mom and as a teacher quickly realized that there’s a ridiculous amount of kindness terrain to teach and explain to kids –and some adults– before letting them loose online. So she took to her pen and wrote a how-to book for parents who are tackling this issue with their kids.
Kindness Wins covers 10 habits to directly teach kids as they’re learning how to be kind online. Each section is written in Breen’s trademark parent-to-parent-over-coffee style and concludes with resources for further reading, discussion starters, and bulleted takeaways. She concludes the book with two contracts –one to share with peers and one to share with kids. Just like we needed to teach our children how to walk, swim, and throw a ball, we need to teach them how to maneuver kindly online. This book will help you do just that.
Interview With Galit Breen
What genre is your book? Is this your favorite genre?
Kindness Wins is a non-fiction how-to focused on parenting, tweens, and social media. I read more fiction and YA than I do non-fiction, but I love every single one of the genres and topics that Kindness Wins falls under.
Does this have relevance in your personal life?
Yes. I had a post go viral this fall about comments I received about my weight on an article I wrote about marriage. Not too long after that, my daughter and her friends began asking to be on social media platforms like Instagram. When I looked through some of the kids’ profiles , I realized there’s a lot of kindness terrain to cover. After my experience with unkind comments and fat shaming, I knew I wanted to do something about cyberbyulling. This book is my “something.”
Why did you write Kindness Wins?
I wrote this book to create a guide for parents, teachers, youth groups, etc. to use for teaching our kids how to be kind online. I think this can and should be taught. I used my work in social media to inform what needs to be taught and I used my background in teaching (I have an MA in education and I was a classroom and reading teacher for 10 years) to guide the how-to portion of the book.
We’ve read enough of real-life stories of children being cyberbullied. And it’s awful. But what of the bullies? They are somebody’s children too. Perhaps their parents don’t realize that their children are bullies. Perhaps these bullies were not taught online behaviour and don’t realize the consequences of what seems to be harmless and sometimes anonymous activities.
This is where Kindness Wins offers a solution. Galit Breen has created a most necessary guide for parents to teach their children digital kindness. In a very practical and gentle manner, using real-life examples, and some great graphics, Kindness Wins can help parents to discuss healthy online behaviour with their children and teach them how to be polite, kind and considerate in the digital world.
I would recommend this book to all parents whose children are starting to use social media.