Blubber, by the well-known children’s author Judy Blume, is horrifying. The story is about a fifth grade girl named Jill who inadvertently creates the nickname, Blubber, for one of her classmates, Linda. She created the nickname because Linda’s animal report was on whales, and that she’s the chubbiest student in class. Jill shared the nickname through a note with her best friend, but her male classmate managed to take a glimpse of the note and spread the nickname throughout the school. After the nickname became known, students taunted Linda, and degraded her on the bus and during lunch. During lunch, students stole Linda’s lunch and teased her about her weight. When she was on the bus, they pulled on her clothes and called her names until she cried. A true mob mentality moment happened when Jill and her friends pushed Linda against a wall, lifted up her skirt, and showed her underwear to their male classmates.
What makes someone a target?
I’ve been bullied before, not at the extent as Linda. It makes me upset when I hear stories of students being physically and emotionally abused at school. What makes one person the target of a class or the whole school? What makes someone so nervous to let go of their beliefs to be with the rest of the mob? In Blubber, it’s interesting how Jill and her friends defended their bullying tactics. They often said, she deserved it or that someone needed to say the truth to her face. No one deserves to be humiliated in front of their classmates, even if they did someone wrong. It doesn’t fix the problem. There are ways to be tactful on sensitive topics such as weight.
As a someone studying to be a teacher, these are situations that I’m going to face. How can I prevent bullying from happening? How would I recognize the signs? How do you have a student admit they are being bullied without them being ostracized? In the novel, no one helped Linda deal with her bullies. The educators were indifferent to the situation, and they seemed to blame Linda for the problems she had. I don’t want to be type of educator. I want to help students emotionally when they are going through difficult times.
Photo Courtesy: By Robert Couse-Baker (Flickr: angry mob) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons