The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Fortress of Solitude"
Fortress of Solitude
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—Were you every bullied, or did you know someone who was?

—How did it make you feel? (Did you ever feel unsafe? Did it ever make you skip school or another activity? Did it have an effect on your physical or mental health? How?)

—How did the bullying end? Did an adult intervene?

—Is bullying really that harmful? (The answer to this question is “It depends.”

And it depends on a lot of factors, like how aggressive the bully is, how vulnerable the victim is, how long it takes someone to notice and put a stop to it, etc.)

2. Read story: Tell the class to read “Anxious and Alone.” Tell them you’re going to want to talk about this writer’s experience of being bullied: How harmful was it to this writer? (Note: There is no single bully in this story: The writer seems to have been the kind of kid who attracts abuse.)

3. Discussion: Ask students why they think this young person was victimized. (The author herself suggests it’s because she was quieter and more focused on school than her peers, and that it was made worse because she appeared anxious. Are people who appear meek more likely to be bullied? Why might this be? What do they think about this?)

—What could have been done to interrupt the author’s situation? By adults? By peers?

—How did being bullied affect the writer? Was it serious?

—What helped her? (Talking with parents; going to therapy; changing schools.)

4. Brief writing or discussion activity: Tell the students that they are observers in the writer’s elementary school. They’ve been brought in because the principal knows there is a problem but can’t figure out what it is or how to address it. They should write a “report” to the principal telling them what they have observed and how the school can intervene to help the writer.
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