Today is a special post on bullying that I borrowed from Glynnis Whitwer, author of When Your Child is Hurting.
"Should you stand up to a bully?"
You might think the topic of bullying isn't fitting for a devotion. Yet, throughout Scripture we see God's heart for those oppressed. Psalm 9:8-9 (New International Version)
8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Jesus was sent to bring hope and help to those oppressed. He read these words written by the prophet Isaiah about Himself: Luke 4:17-19 (New International Version)
17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And this same loving God calls us to a life of mercy and justice: Micah 6:8 (New International Version)
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
I sense a call to action when it comes to bullies. As I said in my devotion, tolerating offense willingly is one thing. Submitting out of fear is another. I believe it's time to empower our children to stand up to bullies and not pretend it isn't happening. Because it is in alarming numbers.
Identify if the actions are true bullying or just childish meanness. A definition for bullying might be when one child or a group regularly torments another child psychologically or physically.
If it's bullying, allow your child to talk uninterrupted about the problem. Show compassion and empathy, but not anger. Let your child know you take his comments very seriously, but don't over-react. Share your own experiences to let your child know she isn't alone.
Then casually ask specifics such as:
- How long has it been going on?
- Where did it happen?
- Does any other adult know?
- Where are the adults when it's happening?
- Did any other children witness the bullying?
Refrain from interrogation techniques, and write down the answers without your child seeing you.
If your child has any injuries to herself or her possessions, take photos. Do this calmly, without making a big deal.
By this point you probably want to take matters into your own hands, but don't. It's important for your child to handle it as much as possible. Remember, you are training him to deal with bullies the rest of his life.
What you do next depends on the extent and the location of the offense. If something criminal happened, you have a responsibility to report it to the police. If it happened at school, a library, after-school program or other public place, you and your child together should report it to those authorities. If the offense was relatively minor, you can help your child deal with it one-on-one, and with God's help, take steps now to avoid any further bullying.
Steps to avoid bullying
Some simple practices can help you bully-proof your child. I think most parents would agree that it's better to be pro-active than re-active when it comes to bullies. Most experts agree on the following:
Connect with friends – Having a group of true friends is one of the best defenses against bullies. True friends affirm your child's worth and value. True friends will stick up for your child in a difficult situation. Empower your child to do the same for his friends.
Be direct – Teach your child to be honest and direct about what she wants or needs. This is a good training ground for setting healthy boundaries.
Respond calmly to a situation – When your child is hurt or offended, teach him to respond calmly, rather than give in to emotions and react. Taking a minute to think through a situation and formulate a response will help your child learn self-control and teach him relationship-building skills.
Stand up for yourself – As your child learns her worth is based in her position as a child of God, she begins to see her value. No one has the right to intimidate her, or her friends. There should be a sense of holy justice that rises up in us when we understand that fact. When someone bullies your child, she has the right, and the responsibility, to tell the bully to stop. This starts at home. Allow your child to speak his mind freely with respect.
Be assertive, not aggressive – Teach your child the difference between standing up for what is right, and retaliating. As Christians we follow a moral code of how to treat each other, given to us by a holy God. We have the right to speak out against injustice.
Teach social skills – We all need to learn how to live in community with others. If you see your child has a difficult time relating to children her age, spend some time going over rules of common courtesy.
Thank you, Glynnis, for letting me repost this. You can check out Glynnis's blog at http://www.glynniswhitwer.blogspot.com/