October has been designated as the Bullying Prevention Month. It’s good for kids to be able to recognize various forms of bullying. This helps them to more quickly call it out or report it, as well as have more of a conscience about whether they are actually condoning or participating in it themselves.
Bullying is when someone with more power of any kind intimidates or mistreats a weaker person. Kids can have power by being larger, wealthy, popular, beautiful, or especially witty. They can use their advantage to cut down others with scornful looks or laughing, gossip, cutting remarks, and physical intimidation. It can be done in person or through social media, known as cyber bullying.
The perpetrator is so focused on establishing and holding superiority they lack empathy for how their actions devastate another. Meanwhile the victim can experience debilitating social anxiety and scars which they carry into later life.
Your students will probably hear a lot about what bullying is, how to stop it and how to get help. Today, I want to talk about calling our Christian kids to an even higher level of responsibility. Rather than just being on defense against bullies and knowing how to report and stop bullies, let’s call our kids to leadership.
First, as mentioned, bullies use some sort of power for their own advantage. The opposite of that is for kids to be aware of what advantage God has blessed them with and how to use it for the good of others.
Standing alone, your student might prevail, but might not.
I really appreciated a school my son attended, where new seniors were taken on an August retreat. They were challenged about how they could serve younger students and be a good influence. In your typical school, seniors don’t even notice underclassmen. I substitute taught in this school and was stunned by what I saw. There would be senior guys talking together and when underclassmen, even freshmen, passed them in the hall, they stopped talking to each other and greeted the underclassmen by name, friendly back pounding, high fives and encouragement. You could see at events and graduation those seniors were loved and respected in return. This is an example of using the power of seniority for good. The top class in a middle school or elementary school could also be challenged this way.
Convincing your students that they have the position and ability to be an influence is your job. This is great leadership training for your students.
First, they need motivation. Why do they want to love unlovely kids? Because Jesus loves us no matter how unlovely we are. We enjoy that acceptance and want others to experience it as well.
Second, our students need camaraderie. Be intentional about helping Christian students band together to make the commitment to love others and be an influence. If they feel alone, it will seem like too much and probably is, because groups have more power. Here’s an important verse to share:
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
In other words, standing alone, your student might prevail, but might not. If they have a loyal friend, the two of them can stand together. But better yet, three together is like a rope made out of three twisted strands–It’s really hard to break. If your student can find two other believers who will commit to supporting each other no matter what, they will have great influence. They can invite others into their friend group who are having a hard time fitting in and regardless of who accepts the invitation or doesn’t, the core group is committed to loyalty as they reach out to weaker or isolated students.
The word “bully” means “a swaggering coward.” It indicates that a person who intimidates others often has some deep-down fears which motivate them to protect themselves with backstabbing or aggressive behavior. If they feel unconditional acceptance, it will lessen their need to strive aggressively for a secure position. So, here’s a radical challenge – reach out to bullies too!
Pump your kids with courage on a regular basis using all God’s promises. They are tomorrow’s leaders.
This content is from the CEF podcast Teach Kids. Listen to more content like this on the Teach Kids podcast through your favorite podcast platform. #TeachKids #KidsMin
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