The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that 15 to 25 percent of students across the nation are bullied on a regular basis—a 5 percent increase since 1999.

“Bullying is a hot-button issue these days,” says Leslie Ann Keatley, author of the new YA novel “The Sea Wall,” which focuses on this alarming trend. “But it won’t go away when the media attention does. Kids who are physically or emotionally abused by their peers can suffer lifelong effects.”

“The Sea Wall” is set in the fictional town of Moss Ridge, California, where seventeen-year-old Audrey Kelly finds herself the target of a group of bullies known as the Cheerleaders. Fed up with being a victim, Audrey sets out on a campaign of revenge against the group’s leader, Caroline, but her so-called harmless pranks get out of hand.

“In my book I examine how the bullying cycle can spiral out of control,” says Ms. Keatley. “Audrey reacts out of frustration and anger and while it feels good to her at the time, she soon sees how dangerous such aggression can be. Fortunately for her, she is given an opportunity to remove herself from the situation and see it objectively—and see how important it is to stop.”

According to the centers for disease control and prevention, young people involved in bullying are at increased risk of:

* Depression
* Anxiety
* Headaches
* Poor school performance
* Substance abuse
* Behavioral problems
* And even death

“Anyone who feels like they are being bullied should not keep it to themselves,” says Ms. Keatley. “It might be difficult, but they need to tell someone they trust. It’s my hope that ‘The Sea Wall’ will not only help young people who are in similar situations but perhaps even inspire them to speak up.”

Author's Bio: 

Leslie Ann Keatley was raised in California and spent summers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She has worked in local government and in the entertainment industry and is currently a student at Bryan College. She lives in Santa Clarita with her daughter.