138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
“He’s bullying me!” complained one student on a Wednesday night. I have heard this comment thrown around many times with students from fifth grade through high school. Usually, they use this in a teasing way, simply to get attention, or to get someone to stop messing with them. This careless use of the word may seem innocent, but true bullying is a heavy issue that makes the school years incredibly difficult for many students. So, it is difficult for me to hear these words used so flippantly.
The CDC defines bullying as an unwanted, repeated, aggressive behavior by peers that stems from an observed or perceived power imbalance. The fact is bullying is so much more than just annoying behavior – it is repeated aggressive behavior. In movies, as in real life, this is often shown through physical or verbal hostility. However, with the addition of social media, bullying often occurs through apps and other online means. With smartphones and the Internet, students are susceptible to bullying through the hurtful words of others 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are even apps that anonymously and freely allow people to slander, mock, or put down others with no consequence to the perpetrator.
All that is to say that bullying is at a peak in our society, so here’s what the numbers have to say about the impact it has on today’s youth:
- 160,000 kids per day skip school for fear of being bullied.
- 30% of students admit to bullying others.
- 1 in 3 students has experienced bullying at school.
- 70% of students are bystanders to incidents of bullying.
Looking at these statistics, it’s easy to become discouraged. These numbers include our own kids, their friends, neighbors, and even students in our church youth group.
This is why we need to encourage students to show kindness to one another.
To do this, we should always look first to God’s Word. Scripture encourages us to show kindness in the way we treat other people. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our words have power to build up and to destroy, and that is a theme we see repeated throughout the Bible. The old phrase, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is just as applicable today as it has ever been.
The Peters Township School District, as well as other schools in our area, have taken on a kindness challenge. They actively encourage their students and community members to show kindness to those around them. As parents and leaders of our children, we too must tackle the issue head-on and proactively engage with our children about this topic. Here are three practical ways you can talk with your kids about bullying:
- Ask them what they’re experiencing at school. Sit them down and talk with them about what they see at school with their peers. Are they spending time with people who encourage them, or bring them down?
- If you find they are experiencing something along the lines of bullying, encourage them to share about it. If there’s something you hear or see that could be bullying, remind your child that it is good to talk about these things. Even if they do not want to tell you, maybe writing it down or sharing it at another time will help them.
- Ask your child what they are doing to be kind to others. It’s one thing to surround yourself with kind people, but it’s equally, if not more, important to practice showing kindness to friends and family members. How is your child showing God’s love to friends?
Finally, If you ever hear the statement, “They’re bullying me!” remind the student that they should consider those words carefully. They are not words to be said out of annoyance, but rather words with weight that should be taken seriously.
Show kindness today.
Be a safe place for kids. Encourage them to be kind to those around them. Ask God to work in their hearts to show His love to others, and pray we can be an example they will follow.