Search This Blog

HERO IMAGE

Welcome to Belovedgems, a blog about building a bridge between faith and mental health. The author rooted in her faith , her old-soul leads her into adventures to seek spreading hope into the world through a couple of written words.

Bullying and The Church

These pre-teens took a Stand Against Bullying
and to be His light in the world!
We just completed our Vacation Bible School, and my experience was ten times better than last year.  This year we included an extra week to address bullying.  I thought it was a lovely idea because many of our children at church go to public school and they have been exposed to bullying in one way or the other.

I was surprise on how many of our children shared they have been bullied.  My heart ached to hear their experiences and to see how fragile they were while sharing how hurt they had been by those who they taught were their friends.  One child shared how she was chased to the restroom scared and was called names.  I also shared my experiences of being bullied in elementary and my mistake was not to disclose to anyone.   Some of the children in my class not only shared experiencing bullying at school but also at their churches (we had guest from other churches too).  I then realized how important it truly is for the church to address bullying.

That is when it hit me on the importance of increasing awareness on what bullying truly looks like not only at schools but among the church.  How can we call ourselves Christians when we can't begin to treat our sisters and brothers in Christ with kindness?  How can we face our heavenly father after slashing out hurtful words to his children?  Bullying does not only include sticks and stones.  It also includes harsh and hurtful words.

Bullying is defined in three different parts.  Physical acts, verbal acts and emotional or psychological acts. Many of us our most familiar with physical acts of bullying.  Hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving, etc.  All these acts are unprovoked. 

There are also verbal acts that hurt as much as physical acts.  If I have any parents reading today, please be aware that this can also occur at home.  The way we treat our children at home is the way they will treat the world.  Words are hurtful, and they stain our hearts for a very long time.  God calls us to be kind,  "Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" -Proverbs 16:24.  Because words can tear us down or lift us up.  Have you received a compliment today?  How did that make you feel? I bet it felt, good!  Solomon the man who wrote Proverbs was the wisest man that walked on this earth, and I sure am taking his word for it.

You can prevent verbal acts of bullying by not calling others names, and by not speaking negatively about them.  This includes religious slurs, talking about others with the intention of hurting them, spreading rumors, and breaking their confidence.

Solomon shared that "gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much." Proverbs 20:19.  This guy knew what he was talking about! 

Quick reality check:

Saying that you have a prayer request for someone and then breaking their confidence is still gossip.

Saying you need to vent and then speaking foolish words about someone is still gossip.

Slandering someone’s name by talking untrue things or exaggeration. Still gossip!

Rumors and gossip are the way girls bully.  It can be very hurtful because once a "story" spreads is like spreading the feathers of a chicken and trying to gather them (visualize trying to gather all the feathers of the chicken!).  That is what happens when we spread information about someone that is exaggerated or untrue.  It is nearly impossible to heal that wound.  But, Christ can!  Always remember what God has to say about gossip before spreading rumors or gossiping about someone.  Sometimes a comment may seem innocent to the one speaking it, but once it has spread it can become very hurtful.  Remember you are talking about a child of God who deserves as much respect as you do (whether you are a Christian or not, you deserve the same respect!).

Emotional or psychological acts of bullying are the ones that children/teens most likely suffer alone.  Emotional or psychological acts of bullying are the most difficult to see with our human eyes.   It is the anxiety, depression, post-traumatic symptoms, etc. that the person experiences after being bullied.  It is defined as "any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth."

One of my VBS students defined intimidation as “looking at someone so you can be scared of them!”  He was right on point.

Other Students defined" any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.":

"When your friends turn on you, and they leave you out."
"When they tell the others not to be your friend."
"When they spread an ugly picture of you to everyone."

 All their definitions were right on point because they had experienced this type of bullying.

I also want to address sexual harassment briefly. 

Are you flirting or hurting someone with your "compliments"? This depends on the tone of voice, how they look at you and who else is around.   Sometimes compliments are given but they can be sexual harassment when they are undesired, the tone of voice is “creepy” and there is no one else around.  Before "complimenting" someone keep all those things in mind.

Gestures (winking, blowing a kiss, touching, etc.) depends on the relationship we have with the individual, THE AGE, and if it is a public or private place. 

Physical acts like hugging also depend on the relationship you have with the person, location and the way they are hugging. 

I wish I could more into detail about this portion, but if you have any questions feel free to contact me at Belovedgems.org@outlook.com.

Strategies to stand up for bullying as a Church:

1.  Be kind with your words because they are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body -Proverbs 16:24.  Be the first to use kind words in your youth group, children’s ministry, school, home, etc.  Be the one who blesses someone with your words by expressing how much you care about them, how well they have done with their duties etc.  Be a friend!

2.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath-but a harsh word stirs up anger.” –Proverbs 15:1.  If you are being bullied, do no slash back with anger.  Speak to a leader, pastor, an adult you trust, etc.  Make sure you find someone you trust to address this problem.  You are loved, and God has placed special people in your life to help you go trough trials.  

3.   If you are in a position of leadership, I encourage you to stand up for bullying by spreading awareness among your church.  Have an assembly, workshop, sermon series, and good counsel to address these wounds.

4.  The most important one is to be light among your community!  "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)   You can read more on GLOWING like His light here.


 ________________________________________________________________________
Resources:
www.befrienders.org
www.tolerance.org/teens
www.stopbullyingnow.org
800-399-PEER (Peer-listening line)
800-442-HOPE (Crisis intervention and school tip line)





© Belovedgems • Theme by Maira G.