August 30, 2007

Bullying, racism, and Whale Song

More questions and answers from Whale Song author Cheryl Kaye Tardif:4) Since Whale Song was set in the late ‘70s in the beginning of the story, how do the racial and bullying issues in the novel apply to today’s world?

The bullying in the bathroom and chocolate bar scenes in Whale Song are based on true events. These things happened to me in the late ‘70s and resulted from racial discrimination. Have things really changed that much? There is still racism in our schools (Canadian and American), maybe even more so now because of the influx of foreigners and refugees. We have become a multicultural continent, with very little understanding, tolerance or acceptance of people with different religious or cultural beliefs. Whale Song has made older readers remember what it was like to be young, even the negative experiences. And young readers identify with Sarah and the bullying and racism situations. Racial hate crimes have not gone away.

5) Has the “zero tolerance policy” in some schools helped eliminate bullying?

Although many schools say they have a “zero tolerance policy” in place for bullying, even that is not completely true. I know this for a fact. My own daughter was bullied horribly in a Canadian school with a “zero tolerance policy.” Principals often don’t handle the situation but instead treat the bullied child as if they had done something wrong to deserve it. Teachers have very little recourse or authority anymore, and parents don’t always take responsibility for their child or their child’s actions. Is it any wonder that many of our children are going to school afraid, depressed and suicidal? And what happens when the bullies are thrown out of school and into society? Surely, there is a better way for all concerned.

6) How has bullying evolved?

Bullying and racial discrimination have now evolved to the computer age. Cyber-bullying has become the new way to harass victims. Hurtful photographs, instant messaging slurs, chat room bullying and social networking site messages are used to attack our children. This is the future generation, our hope for a better world. Many children have not learned that they are responsible for every word they say and every action, and that those words and actions have incredible healing or destructive power.

7) What can we do to prevent racial discrimination and bullying?

The United States considers youth violence a public health epidemic, according to the CDC―Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “30% of 6th to 10th graders in the United States were involved in bullying as a bully, a target of bullying, or both” (Nansel et al. 2001). These are sad statistics. Some statistics report even higher percentages for younger grades.

But there is hope. I think we need more messages of racial acceptance. Books, music, films and TV could be used to bring people together, rather than tear them apart. Adults and children need to change their views and learn to understand, take an interest. We fear that which we do not know. So KNOW! Learn about your neighbor’s culture and traditions. It takes nothing away from you and you may find rich rewards along the way.

There is a school program called Challenge Day that helps to eliminate the invisible boundaries that separate people. This program has been put into place in many schools and it has shown immense success. It has inspired youth to look at each other with fresh eyes and honest, open hearts. I believe that this should be mandatory in ALL schools in Canada and the US. It is a start. We can be part of the solution, or part of the problem. By writing Whale Song, I hope that I am a small part of the solution.

©Cheryl Kaye Tardif

During my virtual book tour I am giving away some books at specific stops. This is one of them!

  • First, you must answer this skill-testing question: What “gift” does Nana have?
  • Email the answer to
  • I will draw from all entries on September 1st. One winner will receive a copy of Whale Song. Good luck.

Thank you and I hope you will visit my website and sign my guestbook:

Order Whale Song from Amazon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason. ~
Abraham J. Heschel
Racism quotes