At some point we have all been affected by a bully to some degree. Many of us have even bullied others to a certain extent…just ask your siblings. But the bullies of old have morphed and become stronger, meaner, and more prevalent than ever! No longer is the bully just an oversized kid in the classroom among his or her peers. Nowadays bullies are almost everywhere the victims would want to be. And there seems to be no escape! With technology, cell phones, and the Internet, bullies can have their pleasure in tormenting their prey as much as they desire. An estimated 160,000 miss school everyday out of fear of being bullied with about 2.7 million children being bullied each year!
Studies and surveys have shown that 90%!!! of 4th-8th graders reported some form of bullying!
Look at these stats from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org
- Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
- A reported 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it to being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
- There are about 71 percent of students that report bullying as an on-going problem.
- Along that same vein, about one out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
- One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
- Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.
There is clear evidence that bullying in school is impacting our children dramatically. Much of this activity though started at school continues online via social sites like Facebook or Twitter, continuing virtually everywhere the victim goes. Over half of all teens say they have been a victim of cyber bullying with 1 in 3 saying they have been threatened online.
Cell phones are the most common vehicles of technology for digital harassment since they are much more private and individualized forms of communication. Digital harassment differs from cyber bullying in that it is usually between two people once romantically involved, although that’s not always the case. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where parents or friends may intervene from being able see messages or pictures more easily, students are much more reticent to reveal their text or pic messages via mobil devices. Therefore cell phones provide easy-to-use tools for bullies and numerous ways for tormenting their victims outside of school.
A new documentary will be released on March 30 that will chronicle 5 victims of bullying at school. I would encourage every parent, youth worker and student to watch this movie to not only be informed but to take a stand against bullying in our nation. The movie will be released Unrated, after a petition of more than 500,00 decried it’s “R” rating. The movie reveals a real and raw look into the lives our kids live each day! Watch the trailer for the movie here: Bully
Here are a few general steps to take in dealing with your child and bullying.
Understand that bullying is a huge problem and your child is likely either exposed to or a victim of bullying.
Be engaged in the lives of your children. Isolation and ignorance provide ways for the bullying to continue. Knowing their friends, watching their behavior, and having meaningful open discussions with your children about bullying is vital in their thriving at school and in society. As a parent, teacher, or youth worker, being more actively engaged in the lives of your children will help safeguard them from bullies. Take initiative!
Understand that not everyone will stand up for those who are being bullied!
Be involved in your local school system. Many teachers and principals are not aware (and quite frankly some do not even care stating that it’s part of “growing up”) of the bullying that goes on in the halls or cafeteria. Being engaged means being involved. As adults, it is our responsibility to be actively involved in the nurturing and care of our kids. Don’t leave it to the school system to do something. Get involved!
Exercise your right and responsibility to be involved in the protection and safety of your child!
Be active in prayer and teaching. Many children may end up modeling behavior seen at home, on TV or in movies that is aggressive or violent in its nature like bullying. Praying for your child and instructing them in the ways of the Lord is essential. Help your child understand the right and wrong ways to deal with conflict, instilling within them a love for all people. Teach them how to control their tongues and be self -controlled when dealing with pain and anger. Be instructive!
There are many tools and resources available for helping you and your child deal with bullies. Here are a few links to assist.
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and works as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
It wasn’t that long ago that I myself felt like texting was the dumbest thing ever…were you like that once? Well I got beyond it pretty quickly and so have many other adults descending back into adolescence and ascending into the 21st century. Recent studies show that if you ain’t texting with a teen then you ain’t connecting with a teen.
Check out this information courtesy of Lab 42
With texting going up each month and more and more teens and even tweens using phones to connect, those of us in ministry must find ways to stay connected via text. Email has jumped the shark and gone the way of the dinosaur! Finding creative ways to connect through mobil devices and especially through cell phones is what we must focus on if we want to remain connected to youth culture. Teens are sending and receiving an average of 60 per day and 75% of those polled say they text regularly. How can we use texting to our advantage?
Text meaningfully. Don’t just send out blanket Bible verses all the time. Intentionally and personally connect with as many students as you can. I know that this is a tough challenge and there’s nothing wrong with sending the typical announcements and reminders via text. However if that’s all your teen gets from you, they will ignore and block your texts in the future. Teens use their phones to connect not to be advertised to. Use your phone and texts to connect not to just send commercials!
Text methodically. Don’t overload your teen with lots of information in a text. It will get lost and or not even read in the midst of their innumerable other texts. Strategically schedule when and what you want to say. Remember that we live in a society now that conditions them to operate in sound bites and status updates. Take the challenge to get your texts into 140 characters or less.
Text manners. Don’t fret when you don’t hear anything back. I used to have such a hard time with this, expecting the conversation to end with a good-bye or see you later or something like that. However in the world of texts, there are not rules to ending conversations…they just sort of stop and pick back up at another time or place. Kids aren’t being rude (all the time) when they don’t respond immediately or they don’t text back to “end” the conversation. Be an informed texter and learn some of the lingo and shorthand with texting. This will go a long way in helping you understand what is really being said and how you can say what you need too in a little bit of space.
Text ministry. Who would have ever thought that one day we would be talking (texting) and consider it ministry? And yet…it is! Learning to connect and have brief conversations with a teen via text can prove to be a huge bridge builder now for down the road when they really need to talk to someone face to face. If you haven’t realized it yet, texting is the way to go to connect to any kid these days…the handwriting is on their phone and it should be on yours!