Thursday, 20 January 2011

BOOK THAT EXPOSED A DEADLY SECRET IN THE WORLD'S SCHOOL YARDS



The second edition of my Bullycide Death at Playtime is released today in paperback and all ebook formats by BeWrite Books (the first time I have published my own work through BB – and yep, it did go through the formal and rigorous submissions process like any other author submission).

I’d resisted requests for a re-release since the first mass-run was sold out five years ago, feeling that the book had done its job and that the fight against potentially lethal school bullying that it sprung on supposedly responsible authorities when it first hit the streets was now running under its own steam. But that demand has become so pressing that I had to reconsider.

The release is set to coincide with three anniversaries: the tenth of its first release, the forty-third of the disappearance of Stephen Shepherd, the tragic little boy whose death put me on the alert all those years ago, and the fifth of the death of my co-author, the admirable Tim Field, (he always refused to be addressed by his hard-won title, Dr) who contributed expert comment at the foot of my chapters and passages of invaluable practical advice for parents, education authorities and young targets in the danger zone. He was a tireless and fearless anti-bullying campaigner until cancer claimed him,  far too young and at the height of his courageous fight against intimidation in all its cruel forms.

This is the book that blew the lid off the bully-associated child suicide epidemic I named ‘bullycide’ in an (admittedly ambiguous) new term meant to sum things up in a simple, memorable single word. ‘Bullycide’ was perfect for newspaper headlines and has now firmly entered the vocabulary of not only English-speaking nations around the world.

The shattering statistics we compiled were the first ever  recorded on what had been a secret and fatal school syndrome that causes terror and death at playtime. The intensive research took me several years because there was nothing at all to go on in the nineties when I got to work on the book that had been eating away at me since the day of the grim coroner’s inquest into Stephen Shepherd’s mysterious death.

Heartbreaking first-hand interviews and case histories in these pages opened the eyes of an indifferent world. It’s also a book crammed with useful, encouragingly optimistic, advice. It has spawned countless other books, official action, scholarly reports, plays, movies, parent-teacher groups, media campaigns and websites. And there is no doubt that it has saved many young lives.

But has the world really learned since its original publication exactly ten years ago? Are things getting better for embattled kids who see life as a fate worse than death, or are the bullies using new, more covert means to practice their lethal evil in the cellphone texting and internet age?

This second edition – not so much an update as a history lesson (and those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it) – is by overwhelming popular request that we cannot deny.

You can read more about the book and its authors, a free excerpt and reviews in the BeWrite Books Bookstore at www.bewrite.net. It is available in paperback and ebook formats there and at Amazon and will be available in paperback at all other major and minor online stores within a few days. The ebook editions for all electronic reading platforms from PCs to smartphones have already gone universal to all main retailers. (Pssst – and don’t confuse this new edition with the single first-edition copy on sale at a ‘collectors’ item’ price on Amazon by a private seller – even though its original price of $460 has been reduced to an equally obscene $258!)

Many thanks to BeWrite Books' brilliant technical and design director, Tony Szmuk, for his beautifully re-worked cover and outstanding new inside text and picture layout. Like most things at BB, it couldn’t have happened without him. Thanks too to my editorial team members, Hugh McCracken and Sam Smith for their encouragement.

Below are just a few early reviews that reflect the impressions of other reviewers over the years. Best wishes. Neil M.

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The authors make their purpose clear. They intended to shock, and they succeeded. Although tragic stories dominate the book, there’s lots of practical advice too. It’s an angry book … an excellent book – a call to action and a cry on behalf of unhappy children. Gerald Haigh. Times Education Supplement.

Marr and Field have coined the word ‘bullycide’ to describe the tragic decision of children to choose suicide rather than face another day of bullying. The book provides statistics, case studies and expert advice. Mary Stevens. UK Press Gazette

A horrifying book … shocking … should be required reading for every education authority.
Liz Carnell. Yorkshire Evening Post.

Screams failure of all adults.  Hellen Connel. London Free Press

A major new book … exposes child suicide caused by bullying. Geoffrey Shryhane. Lancashire Evening Post

The book uncovers an almost secret syndrome, which is reaching epidemic proportions. The authors slam the authorities for doing little to tackle the problem. Stephanie Bell. Sunday Life

Reveals the extent of childhood bullying and the despair that pushes British kids to attempt suicides … 19,000 every year. All schools write virtuous policies, but few put their fine intentions into practice.
Yasmin Alibhai Brown. The Independent.

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