Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bully Behavior

The topic of bullying seems to consume many schools and districts across the nation. The New Jersey schools require anti-bullying experts to investigate all complaints on campus. Several organizations have been founded to “sound the trumpet” for bullying victims and educate parents about bullying prevention. Many state legislatures have adopted new laws to curb school violence – granted some of these laws are mere crafty attempts to advance the pro-homosexual agenda. Some tragic cases, such as Columbine, have showed us what can become of those who are victims of bullying. They turn on their oppressors and even harm innocent children in their angry rage. When some view what Christian school parents and students call “bullying,” they only sneer, knowing the extreme cases that public and private, non-religious schools face. This does not, however, ease the pain of those students who feel they are consistently badgered by ruthless tormentors. 

There are four common types of bullying:

  1. Social bullying. A child can be ostracized from the group. It’s possible that the whole group has a vendetta against the child, but it’s more likely that a couple leaders (bullies) in the group pressure the others in the group to not include the child.
  2. Physical bullying. The severity of physical harm may vary, but all cases are a violation of the student’s rights. Some mistakenly assume that bullies torment because they have been tormented by someone else (e.g. abusive parents, siblings, neighborhood acquaintances). This is not always the case. There can be other causes for bullying, such as anger problems or insecure attitudes. 
  3. Verbal bullying. A student receives consistent, verbal mockery that often makes them feel like an outcast among the group members. At the least, it robs the student of the ability to enjoy the school day.
  4. Cyber bullying. In the advancement of internet social networking, bullying can now be carried into the cyber world. Rather than sharing memorable moments and catching up with friends, some use Facebook, text messaging, and other electronic communications to engage in bullying.
Helping the Oppressed:
  1. Teach children that the bully’s actions result from the bully’s wrong attitudes, not the victim’s. Children need to understand that they are not in the wrong because they are unjustifiably harassed. Understanding the reasons why bullies behave the way they do – insecurity, anger, or snobbishness – may lessen the degree to which the victim suffers.
  2. Teach children to talk to an adult about it. The age of the child may require you to explain, in detail, the difference between informing and “tattling.” When students are truly bullied, there should be no hesitation to talk to a school official. Is someone physically violating you? Is someone consistently taunting you about something you cannot or should not change? Is the person being vulgar or racist? Is someone damaging your property? These types of questions can help children understand that the problem lies with the bully, not the victim; and an authority needs to be informed.
  3. Teach them to answer a bully. While it may seem like a good strategy to stay as far away from a bully as possible, that works only for a short time. Eventually the bully will find you. After all, he is always on a seek-and-destroy mission. Teach the child to roll with the punches. Use sarcasm to answer the bully’s ridiculous mockery. At times, laugh. Give them the go ahead to make fun of you. After all, the bully will have no motivation to bully someone who can’t be easily rattled. Additionally, these types of responses exude confidence that a bully does not want to challenge. Students can learn to answer a bully without retaliating with unkindness. Note: This in no way excuses the actions of a bully, but it can help the victim fight the inward battle that takes place when being mocked.
  4. Teach them to confront the bully. Don’t answer defensively; tackle (figuratively not literally) the bully with the truth about his unkindness. “You have no business talking to me that way.” “Do you expect people to like you when you act like this?” “If you are going to be unkind, then I have no desire to be around you.” This teaches children biblical confrontation, and it also boosts their own confidence level.
  5. Teach them to stand up for others. Stand up for others who are oppressed by a victim. If they are embarrassed or afraid to talk to an authority about being bullied, advocate for them. When a group of students stand up for each other against a bully, it is only a matter of time before the problem is solved. An atmosphere of positive peer pressure will be maintained, and the bully will either convert or move on.
 Our duty as parents and school officials is two-fold. First, teach students how to deal with a bully. They need to learn these skills as children because they will need them in adulthood. Secondly, teach children the biblical context for this issue so they don’t develop the attitude of a bully. The physical and verbal outcomes are merely products of the heart. “Be ye kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another…” should be memorized, explained, and enforced throughout one’s entire childhood.