Of Bullying and Other Things that Stink

I am not a big fan of real, live stink bugs. An invasive species that apparently never goes away, they remind me of hungry teens lurking in the kitchen, and especially around the fridge. Then there’s that horrid odor they release. Yeah, that reminds me of teenagers also. At least the bugs don’t leave their smelly sneakers lying anywhere and everywhere around the house. In the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States where I live, stink bugs are particularly and unpleasantly present. The attic sitting over the top of my carport must be the hiding place for their mother ship; there might be thousands of those pesky critters holed up in there. They get into everything, even apparently closed boxes and jars. In other places in my country and around the world, stink bugs are not as much of a problem, and the inhabitants of those areas should feel very blessed. Unfortunately, bullying knows no geographical boundaries. Anyone, at any age, at any time can fall victim to the confusion, humiliation and even physical harm caused by bullying. Young children are especially vulnerable, and in many cases, they lack the experience to even understand what is going on. Many will conclude there is something wrong with them or it is their own fault. Even worse, many bullied children will silently withstand the torment, even though the solution(s) to their problem may be very close. The mere fact they have to endure these situations stinks to high heaven. But that is not the connection I am trying to make between stink bugs and bullying. In my fictional children’s books about these insects, I make them the good guys who help elementary age children understand difficult issues like bullying. I hope my new book, Don’t let that Bully Bug You! Book Two of the Stinkbug Chronicles, will be a reference point children can turn to so they can get the help they need. I want them to know bullying is not their fault, that there is nothing wrong with them, and most importantly, there is a way out that does not involve them getting hurt. As parents, teachers and administrators, we can help children in these extremely challenging and awkward situations by giving them the tools, resources and support they desperately need. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where the biggest problem for a child is where to put those stinky sneakers?