Stand Against Bullying

I have met four families in the last several months at PromiseLand that are victims of Bullying.  In fact, I prayed with 2 of them this weekend.  I found this article from Focus on the Family that might be of help.

From the seventh through the 12th grade, Josh dreaded going to school. Name-calling and cruel jokes from his peers undermined his self-esteem and his schoolwork. “It was impossible for me to learn,” he says.

But Josh handled the daily bullying better than 15-year-old Greg Doucette. When the taunting from his classmates became unbearable, Greg hung himself from a basement rafter.

Every day, heartbreaking accounts of school-based bullying appear in our newspapers. Such reports make us upset and concerned, yet most of us wonder what, if anything, we can do to help.

The facts about school-based bullying are shocking. About 85 percent of arrested school shooters told the Secret Service that revenge against bullying, which in some cases lasted years, was the reason they murdered indiscriminately.

The American Psychological Association estimates that 90 percent of fourth- through eighth-graders are targets of bullying. Approximately 160,000 students skip school each day due to bullying. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that about 85 percent of bullying takes place in front of others, yet only 11 percent of witnesses intervene.

Jesus told us we have a moral obligation to help those in need. So did the prophet Isaiah when he wrote, ”Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17). Teaching our children to help targets of bullying is pivotal to their moral education.

Stopping bullies

Bystanders have the greatest opportunity to reduce bullying. One study shows that when they do intervene, they succeed more than half the time.

Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today, told me how in high school he stopped someone from beating up a kid.

Mark said quietly, ”Lay off.”

”What are you going to do, Galli?” the bully said.

”I’m not going to fight you. I want you to stop it.”

The bully stopped and left.

Most bullying is verbal, not physical, so simple and powerful words are often sufficient: “Stop it.” “That’s wrong.” “That’s cruel.”

Teach your children to tell an authority figure when they see bullying, especially when it’s physical. Also encourage them to act in tandem. The power of two is found throughout the Bible. Jesus tapped into this dynamic when He sent His disciples out in pairs, not alone (Matthew 21:1; Mark 14:13).

A strategy for targets

When the target of bullying is your child, how can you respond? Telling him to “just ignore it” is a common mistake. He can no more ignore a bully at school than a parent can at work. Instead, he needs a wise game plan, and he needs to see you behave courageously.

Most bullies seek students who are timid and unassertive. Teach your child assertive but short responses: “That’s not true.” “You’re wrong.” “Whatever.” He should avoid longer responses, which only encourage further attacks. Teach him to give the impression that the bully’s approval doesn’t matter. Show him how to leave an area with confidence: shoulders back and without an emotional display.

Meet with school authorities if you have to, but make sure that you are firm, not attacking. Have your facts down and stick to them. Do not confront the bully yourself. A parent who directly fights a child’s battles for him makes the child appear even weaker, causing him to become an even larger target.

Showing courage

My wife and I expect our three children to show courage, not cowardice, when a classmate is bullied. Distraught, our daughter told us one day how two girls were hurting a physically challenged classmate.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“I defended her,” she said.

Three words have never made me more proud. Later, I had an opportunity to speak to her class. The teacher asked the class what they thought about my daughter. The girl she defended raised her hand and said, “I think Abby’s a good person.” She said “good” with passion and thankfulness. That little girl saw a side of God’s protective nature that I doubt she had seen before.

Our character and our ability to love expand or shrink depending on the courage we possess, and that includes the courage to stand against bullying.

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About pastorrobin

Hello. I pastor PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, TX. I am married to Erica, and we have 3 kids: Kennady, Jude, and Avery. All little ones! Visit our church site at www.psmchurch.com

Posted on February 21, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. my stepson Bradley was bullied in middle school for being whinny. He admits he was whinny. As he grew into himself (he was baptized in Jesus’ name and came out of the water filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues and stammering lips at the age of 10 years) he became a young man determined to not embarrass his God. As a junior in high school, he watched as another student was teasing and bullying a smaller boy for being homosexual. Bradley stepped in and took over the situation by offering himself up to the bully for bullying. He tapped on his shoulder and said, “Why don’t you pick on me and leave him alone?” As the bully turned around and saw that Bradley was huge, he said, “because you will hurt me.” Bradley said, “no, I won’t but I didn’t like it when I was picked on and I don’t like seeing others being picked on.”
    The point is that all people have been the subject of ridicule at some point. We all step in it sometime. To be able to stand up to another person takes honesty and fearlessness. We must be able to pull from our own experiences and see the necessity of standing up for what is worthy of defending, a soul needing a Savior.

  2. Every parent needs to read this article. How sad bullying is. Just this morning I saw this quote posted on a bulletin board and wondered how I could pass it on to others. Now is my chance.
    “A snowflake is a fragile things, but think what they can do when they stick together.”
    We need to teach our kids to stick together and “stand by other children”, and we “adults” need to do the same.

  3. Sadly this is happening with our smaller children as well.
    A few years ago, I picked up my daughter from school, only to notice that she was very withdrawn and emotional, offering no information to what may have caused this abnormal behavior.
    My older son informed me that while waiting in the carpool line, and older boy ( 2 years older, and twice her size) had drug her out into the grass, punched her several times and threw her into an ant pile. Of course once he saw what was going on, he came to the rescue and confronted the boy.
    Finding this out, I was very upset. It didn’t take me long to pull out the phonebook and contact her teacher at home. I wanted this to be confronted first thing in the morning. Once we arrived at the school, the teacher had already informed the principle, and the other people that needed to be involved. The school counselor confronted the boy, and he confessed with no denial of what he had done. His parents were notified and came to the school to discuss the situation. As it turns out, he had assaulted children in 2 other schools and had been temporarily expelled each time, so his parents just enrolled him into a new school each time. They had moved several times as well. And his parents were in the process of a divorce and said that there were alot of problems at home.
    It became obvious to me that this child (7 yrs old) was obviously taking out his pain, on other children. As much as it angered me with what he had done to my daughter, it hurt even worse to know what pain this child was experiencing.
    Shortly after this experience, we never saw him again.
    It’s very important not to ignore these situations and think that they will just go away. If we hadn’t of confronted this, what would he have done next? Also, I have asked myself, with as many attendants on duty, how did it go unnoticed? This experience brought awareness to the school. Not to mention, talking with my daughter about being more verbal. She is very, very, shy. I never would have thought that she would have allowed this to happen, without even yelling for help. We have always discussed with our kids on what to do in these situations, and thought they would automatically respond as we taught them.So this really increased awareness in our home too.
    We now make it a part of our daily schedule to sit down with our kids every day and discuss their daily school experience. They tell us what they notice with certain classmates, and we make it a point to pray for them and situations that are going on.
    Bless your children every morning with prayer, before they go to school.

  4. Robin This is Nicky from PromiselandCentral.

    I just wanted to say thanks for the story on bullying. Someone told me to check your website and read it. Please be prayerful for Rhayven. I am sure that you remember her.
    She has been bullied by 3 different girls. We asked for a meeting with the girls parents and the girls also
    .
    We were told today not possible. We have to meet seperately.

    You cannot even begin to know what this has done to Rhayven. She hardly has any self esteem. We are still finding out things that have happened to her because she is afraid of retaliation. Please pray with us

    Thanks Nicky

  5. Way to go, Becky & family!!!! God be with you all!!!

  6. Beck & Lael, You are wonderful parents and your children will reflect that fact the rest of their lives. I wish all American parents took the time and effort to be this involved with the lives of their children. Our country would then take a different road into the future.

  7. I am so sorry to hear this about Rhayven. I had her in my SS class several years ago. May God direct you in dealing with this situation.

  8. I was a victim of bullying my 5th grade year of school. Lucky for me, my parents had taught me to love myself and have confidence in myself. They taught my that my God was bigger than anything that could come against me. It was not always easy to remember but that year it turned things around for me. I will never forget my 5th grade year and I used it as an example when teaching my children. One day I wore an orange dress with a crocheted vest to school. The vest was made for me by one of my great aunt whom I admired for her sewing/crafting abilities. The vest was brown, black, orange and yellow. There were 3 girls who always taunted me because I only wore dresses to school and they decided that day that my nickname would be “Halloween”. At first, I was very hurt and angry. But, I prayed about it and decided that I would wear the dress again the next week and when they called me “Halloween”, I would agree with them that I kind of dressed like a halloween. So, I did and I laughed with them. They did not know what to think. They could not believe that their name-calling didn’t hurt me. They started talking to me and asked why I didn’t react. I told them that I loved my dress and even more I loved my vest. I told them that my Aunt had made it for me. She had asthma (like I did) and as a child there wasn’t medicine she could take so she sat by her mother while her brothers and sisters played outside. Sitting by her mom, she learned to sew, crochet, tat and knit among other things. I told them that I loved the vest because I knew she had sewn love in every stitch. So, if it made them happy to make fun of me it really didn’t matter. Their words were just that “words that didn’t have the power to hurt me if I didn’t let them”. The three girls became my friends and we didn’t make fun of anyone or call anyone names. Verbal bullying is however, very different from physical. I’m glad I never had to deal with that for myself. I did however, have to deal with it with two of my children. I agree with Becky’s approach. You have to stay involved and pray for and with your children. It is very troubling to see the level bullying has escalated to in the schools these days.

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