Friday, October 15, 2010

The Problem of Bullying Revisited: Finding Positive Solutions

I find it interesting that in spite of several decades of schools' and colleges' emphasis on tolerance and diversity that the problem of bullying is compounding. Why does bullying continue in spite of supposed zero tolerance policies?

Parents, teachers and children’s ministry workers have the power to stop bullying by not only teaching children that bullying is wrong, but by showing children positive alternatives in how to treat others. Here’s how:

First, teaching respect for others must start in the home. When I hear parents belittle their children in public, I cringe. Don’t those parents realize the lessons they are teaching their children – that they (the children) are worthless and you put down people’s characters when you disagree with their behaviors? Children are great imitators. They will parrot what they are taught. Even secular teachers and administrators agree that bullies are made, not born. Bullies usually have been bullied or mistreated themselves, more likely than not right at home. Hurting people hurt others.

That's a good first step. Other than using this blog to encourage my readers who are parents to respect their children, I can't snap my fingers and make dysfunctional families go away. Only God is in the transformation business and there's gotta be some wanna on the part of individuals who make the choice to continue the dysfunctional cycle within the home. As a teacher and youth worker, what can I do to protect children from hurting each other?

Jesus taught us to love God and love others as ourselves (Mark 12:30,31). As a Sunday School teacher, I’m committed to teaching my students first to love God. Jesus said if we love him, we will obey His commands (John 15:14). Biblical commands include keeping sexual interaction within the marriage relationship as defined by one man and one woman.

I’m also going to teach my students what Jesus meant by loving others as ourselves. That word love is the Greek word, agape, which means looking out for the best interest of others. If I’m looking out for what is best for my neighbor, I’m not going to pick on him, I’m not going to harass him, I’m not going to show disrespect. Instead, I’m going to protect him, hope for the best for him, speak well of him and never give up on him (1 Corinthians 13:7). Each person, no matter who they are, what clothes they wear, what ethnicity they embrace, or what lifestyle they have chosen is important to God - important enough that His Son, Jesus Christ, gave up His life to save them and offer each individual the hope of heaven.

Whether a parent, public school teacher or children’s ministry worker, we all need to be concerned about the epidemic of bullying within our public schools. We need to remember, as C.S. Lewis once pointed out, that the person standing next to us is the closest we will get to God himself, for each human being bears the image of God. Each of us can help the children in our lives learn to be respectful and considerate of the person next to them, to truly love them as God loves – no matter who they are or what they believe.

No comments: