Author Jodee Blanco at NEIU

Author of Please Stop Laughing At Me Discusses Bullying

Lauren Gugwor, Staff writer

Joanna Blaco - Photo by Lauren Gugwar
Joanna Blaco – Photo by Lauren Gugwar

Jodee Blanco, author of a New York Times’ Best Seller Please Stop Laughing at Me is one of the nation’s top speakers on school bullying, according to The Huffington Post. The book is a memoir of her experiences of being bullied while in middle school and in high school, and its sequel is titled Please Stop Laughing at Us. Blanco recently spoke at Northeastern Illinois University’s Recital Hall.

A former bully-victim-turned-activist, author and lecturer, shared her experiences (or a “dramatic re-enactment” as she calls it) about being bullied while growing up in Orland Park, IL. Her decision to come forward with her story was out of frustration of society’s misconceptions of school bullying, especially after Columbine.

Blanco is truly a gem. Not only can she incite emotions from her audience but she also has a deep understanding of how children feel and think, from both the bullies’ standpoint and the victims. “Getting laughed at sucks,” Blanco said. “Many students don’t know the harm they’re doing to their peers when they laugh.” Blanco described her childhood bullies saying, “They laugh to fit in. They laughed because they were scared.”

Everything Blanco had to say about bullying and bullies is spot on. She points out that one of the biggest problems is the complete lack of supervision, along with lack of awareness on the part of the adults who make statements such as, “Don’t be so sensitive,” or “They’re just joking around,” can be harmful to the self-esteem of the victim whose bullying and abuse can last throughout their school career. As Blanco states, “it’s like putting a Band-Aid on an amputation.”

She also states that the zero-tolerance policy against violence “victimizes the victim twice” because not only is the victim attacked by their peers and classmates, but now they are being kept from defending themselves and being punished for it.

Blanco is a tireless advocate who continues to help and inspire many. She has successfully managed to intervene in student suicides and receives letters from students around the country daily. “Knowing that I changed one person’s life is good enough for me,” Blanco said. Blanco continues to travel around the country speaking out against bullying and giving a voice to students that feel they don’t have one.