Hello Mr. Smith,
I’d like to start this interview by thanking you – for the autographed book (with the smooth bookmark) and the wristbands that came along with the package. The merchandise and the book really impressed me (and two of those three bands have already been worn by kids in my neighbourhood).
Author’s response: That is AWESOME news! I am glad to hear that kids in the neighbourhood are enjoying the bands. Once the book launches, I may be able to get more. Maybe you can start an official MOB club in your area. I would like to also thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak with you and address your fans in anticipation of the release of Mind Over Bullies: A MOB Forms.
So without much ado, I will start with the questions.
1. Bullying – it is a very sensitive topic and one that needs careful handling. Is there any particular incident that prompted you to write this book?
Not any personal events. But from time to time, I browse through news articles and I happened to see the story of a bullied teen that jumped in front of a train to end her life because of being bullied. It was unbelievable, so I searched more articles, and there were other stories of teens hurting themselves or taking their lives because of being bullied.
I don’t have children of my own, but I do now have 4 nieces and 3 nephews. I grew numb thinking about one of those 7 possibly hurting themselves because of bullying. I wanted to create a story that would send a message to bullies and victims of bullying.
To bullies the message is: take a moment and understand what your actions can do to another person.
To the victims the message is: there is life after bullying. The pain you are enduring is temporary, and the light will get brighter.
Though I am writing to teens living today, I had my own nieces and nephews in mind as I wrote.
2. In what way do you envision this book is going to help people who are being bullied?
I am hoping that a few ideas will be conveyed. Don’t try to handle being bullied all by yourself. Confide in someone, in multiple people if you have to.
Make NEW friends if you have to (which might mean extending yourself and reaching out to others and even putting yourself in different surroundings.) Without giving the story away I can say that one character in the book did that and it was a major turning point in recovering from bullying. Not to mention that the character was able to accomplish some really important things after finding a support system.
3. Are there any shocking statistics related to bullying that you want to share with our readers?
One out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year according to a 2015 National Center for Educational Statistics study and that trend is expected to rise.
A study of more than 16,000 Boston-area high school students suggests cyberbullying is on the rise, most sharply with girls as victims by way of smartphones among teenagers, as reported this month by Monica Disare, Boston Globe Correspondent.
The numbers are scary, and they point to a problem that is continuing to grow worldwide. The second stat about young girls was one of the driving factors behind choosing a female lead character. It’s important for young women to have confidence because there are so many people trying to tear them down. Margo, the lead character in Mind Over Bullies, is as confident as they come. So I think readers will find her interesting.
4. There are various degrees of bullying – from subtle snubbing to outright ragging. Which age group of people do you think are the most affected by this? And which age group are more prone to indulge in bullying? (Question asked because the book talks about lot of teenage characters)
Well, so far the book has been reviewed by students as young as 11 and as old as 17 and they all say they see bullying at school. Sadly, bullying isn’t confined to age in my opinion. There is so much pressure to fit in at school, and so many factors that drive bullying amongst teens, so it can happen at any age. The snubbing, cyber bullying and on the higher end, physical attacks, are being reported in the news frequently at the high school and even middle school level.
Even Kindergarten children can and have had bouts with bullying. It has become an epidemic across multiple age ranges.
5. What do you think is the root cause of bullying?
Everything I have seen points to emotional issues and life experiences, whether perceived to be good or bad, as root causes.
Bullying, I believe, is a learned or acquired behaviour. For example, we aren’t born with prejudice. Environment, life experiences and a host of other external factors shape how we feel about matters, how we view life and how we interact with others.
From what I have read on the subject, some people have been raised around bullying, so that is the only way they know how to handle interactions with others. Some have been bullied themselves and it made them feel powerless, so in turn they bully others to feel important.
One theme explored in Mind Over Bullies is lack of understanding. To a large extent, I think that some bullies attack others because they just haven’t been helped to recognize how damaging it is. Maybe they consider the short term affect, but the long term affects are the ones that prove to be the most damaging. Whether it is weeks, months or years down the road.
These types of things perpetuate the behaviour and is what I think may have a major role in why the problem has grown so rapidly and consistently.
6. I have seen studies say that bullies behave that way because they are in some way deeply affected psychologically and use this as an outlet for their frustration. Do you think this is a justified reason?
If you are asking if I think frustration justifies bullying, I would have to say no. It explains it, but it never justifies it.
7. What is the main reason (or was there a particular reason why) you came up with wristbands for this issue?
They are a symbol of solidarity. For bullying victims, I want them to look at their MOB wristband and know they are not alone.
The acronym MOB does of course stand for Mind Over Bullies, but it takes on a literal meaning too. It takes a MOB or a group to stand behind a bullying victim, and it takes a MOB or a group to help people that bully to understand that bullying is damaging. The MOB wristbands symbolize those things. Eventually I want the whole world to wear a MOB band.
Plus they just look so cool!
8. Are there any more books we could expect from you?
Later this year I will release Actuality. It’s a sci-fi thriller. If you liked Inception, you’ll like Actuality.
And of course MOB II will happen sometime in 2016. The second one will have more action and more surprises.
Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions and I hope you really do write more books. J
Thank you again for the interview. I hope your fans will enjoy Mind Over Bullies: A MOB Forms. Here is a link for them to preview the first 3 chapters http://tiny.cc/MOBPreview