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Bullying at Church

School – It’s All About Bob

It’s more than a little personal. It’s what I grew up with. I got bullied every single week at church from just a few weeks after I started kindergarten (when “Bob” moved into my ward), until I was a teenager. I got bullied until the day I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and I refused to go back to church.

Bullying at ChurchIn my case, it was mostly Bob and those he rallied to silence if not to his side. But sometimes it was the girls, doing the “girl thing.” You know, inviting everyone else to join the Clique Claque Club or passing notes about how they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Probably nothing out of the ordinary. And eventually one of the moms made them invite me to join the club. Probably after seeing me sit on the grass a few doors down staring longingly at the house during every weekly meeting. (How did I always know when and where the meeting was held?) Mostly it was that even my “gang” of friends never defended me from the Gang of Bob.

Yes, I got it from the same group at school, but for some reason I expected it there. At church, it was a constant source of confusion. The lessons we got, the answers they gave. The disconnect between knowing and doing was like the chasm in the Grand Canyon. Even the simple things like, “Be nice to the chubby girl with red hair and glasses at school” suddenly got really complex when the girl was sitting next to you in Senior Sunday School.

As far as I could tell, everyone knew. Bob wasn’t very slick in his methods of torment. I had rocks thrown at my head at the bus stop. Names like “fatso,” “four eyes,” “fireball,” “ugly” occurred about as often as I was within 18 feet of him. And he didn’t whisper. If he had to pass something to me, he would act nauseated. If he passed me in the hall I would get tripped or kicked or at least have some really hilarious insult thrown my way.

Then there were things like the pronouncement in front of the entire fourth grade when I was up to kick during the grade-wide kickball tournament that “Me and the boys all know you wear a bra, so don’t try to hide it anymore!!!” Not the biggest deal now, as an adult. But horrifying to the nine-year-old who was only the second girl in the grade to bear the signs of maturation. (My full sympathy goes out to Jill, who was the first.)

Or maybe it was the declaration that he’d rather miss the dance festival altogether than have to dance with me. (How in the world could the teacher have paired us up out of 100+ kids?) Then, when he didn’t show up and I had to sit on the curb, partnerless, during the festival we’d rehearsed two months for, he told everyone his family went on vacation that week just to prevent him from having the absolute humiliation of having to touch my hand during the Virginia Reel.

You know, stuff like that. For seven years straight. Until we got to junior high and the school was big enough that I could avoid him a good deal of the time during the week if I planned a careful, convoluted path to class and as long as I was careful on the walk home.

I Don’t Have to Go to a Church with Bullies!

One day it dawned on me that I didn’t have to go to church. No one could make me. I mean, I figured my parents could ground me or something, but I seriously doubted they’d drag me by my hair, kicking and screaming, into the chapel.

When I decided never to go back to church — where avoiding him was still impossible — only to face three hours of crap-under-the-auspices-of-gospel-learning, my very bright mother (who had tried to deal with the problem over the years) suggested I go to class with my big sister. After some consideration, I agree. I went with her for almost a year. The kids, all four years older, were so nice. At least that’s my recollection. Truth is, the fact that they said, “hello” instead of “hi ugly pig” meant, to me, that they were an amazing group.

When I was baptized and was going to be confirmed and presented to the ward, I pretended to be sick. I was sure that when they asked for the sustaining to accept me into the ward, that Bob would vote to reject me.

The autumn day that he was sustained as a deacon I was stunned. Behavior had nothing to do with it and I realized that no matter what he did, he would continue to move up the ranks, but because I was a girl, I could not. I was hopeless even to God.

When I learned they were going to split our ward when I was in junior high school, I prayed every night that, somehow, he could be in the other ward. And when it happened, I sat there on the folding chair in the back of the cultural hall and cried.

Grown Up Reflections

Years later I lived briefly in my “home ward” after college. I was called to teach and was attending a teachers’ fireside when an adult (who had been one of my teachers) briefly acknowledged some of the things that had happened.

Five years ago when I created the web site for our 20th high school reunion, one boy who had grown up in my ward wrote in his bio that he had stopped playing the piano because Bob had teased him so mercilessly about it. I privately responded, “Wow. You stopped playing piano. I competed in beauty pageants.” The ex-piano player responded that he was sorry for what I had gone through and any part he had played.

The treatment, apparently, wasn’t a secret.

So, why did it go on so long, completely unchecked? I have no answer for that.

Parenting a Bullied Child

In light of my experience, and realizing that I haven’t figured this out at all, I’d still like to share a couple of situations that I saw clearly resolved by strong leaders. Perhaps you can learn from their wisdom as I did.

Problems in Florida

In Florida I served in Young Women. Our Laurel class had about 18 girls, I think. Approximately four were various Hispanic, eight were Haitian, the rest were Caucasian. Amber and I started noticing some self-imposed segregation among the girls and it got more and more distinct. Then they started speaking in different languages so that the other girls couldn’t understand.

I was fussing and fuming and worrying and fasting and praying and giving special lessons and messages to help the girls “understand” stuff they already completely understood and were conversant about.

Finally Amber took matters into her own hands. She walked into class one Sunday and said, “What is this??? Black. Brown. White.” she said, pointing to each group. “That is unacceptable. Now mix it up!”

They did and it never happened again when I lived there. She didn’t muss and fuss. She didn’t make a racial tolerance magnet to stick on their lockers. She directly and clearly pointed out the problem to the offenders and told them it was unacceptable. Period.

Problems in Utah

When we moved to Eagle Mountain, my bubbly, outgoing nine-year-old was targeted by one particular girl in her class. It happened the first week we were here. There was no history.

We tried all the things I knew; all the things I had been told as a child:

  • Ignore her and she’ll get tired and stop.
  • Say something nice.
  • Say something funny.
  • Be self-deprecating.
  • Reason with her.
  • Use “I” language.
  • Be friendly.
  • Make other friends.
  • Smile.
  • Tell a leader.
  • Steer clear.

Nothing worked and she did not get bored. (Which in hindsight shouldn’t have been surprising, since those things never worked for me, either.)

Over the years the situation grew. Every event became more painful — and Bobette was recruiting all the new move-ins to join along. Everything was fair game. Her height, her weight, her intelligence, her talents.

I had mentioned it to a few leaders, but nothing changed. I did not approach her parents because I was afraid doing so would only make it worse, as often happens. Either the parents deny the situation and then friction comes between the families or the child is disciplined and then the punished child retaliates against the other child. (My bully’s parents were informed. It didn’t help.)

One day last year, after living here for four years, my then 13-year-old daughter left mutual an hour early in tears after a series of degrading pictures were drawn of her and rude comments made.

My poor bishop happened to call our home to speak to Sam after I’d spent about 30 minutes consoling my daughter. I happened to answer the phone. He got an earful. Mostly he heard that the ward was unsafe for my children. They had moved here as happy girls who loved to bear their testimonies. After the 50th rejection, after being openly mocked for their testimonies, and after being treated cruelly so often, they were different children. He had long known about the “issues” with the Young Women (as had the previous bishop). And I asked him why I was supposed to require my children to attend church meetings and functions when no one was requiring decent behavior.

When I finished blubbering I gave the phone to my husband. The bishop promised that action would be taken.

A couple of weeks later, the same daughter (by far my most sociable child) was home early again. Swearing never to return. “Bobette” had not only continued the usual round of nastiness, exclusion, and ganging up, but she had threatened to “beat the crap out of” my daughter, about three inches from her face, and about two yards from the chatting circle of Young Women leaders — who said nothing at all.

When she got home, we were beside ourselves. Sam called one of our daughter’s leaders who had been there and left an intense voice mail, asking why nothing was done.

This particular incident was so blatant that, unbeknownst to us, some of the usually silent bystanders actually complained about the situation to the leaders. (She had been mean to a number of other girls that night and they were indignant. My daughter’s situation made the best case against the bully.) The response was, “You mean she was serious?” They had been assuming all these years, that no child would really be that mean in front of the leaders. It must have been a joke.

DaNae, one of the leaders who had heard the whole incident (and brushed it off as a joke), drove immediately to our home. (She hadn’t even gotten our voice mail.) She asked about the incident. She asked about past incidents. She asked about the duration. She was stunned. She had no idea. She borrowed my copy of Odd Girl Out.

We talked until after 3:00 am. She wanted to take action I was worried about the outcome. She took full responsibility for both the past behavior and the resolution even though she had officially been released the week Sunday before. She would, she said, resolve it.

The next day she went met personally with the mother and father of the main bully and laid out the situation. She confirmed what had been happening and made it clear that the behavior would not be tolerated. Then I got a call from the mother. When I saw her name on caller ID, I was so scared to answer it. But I did, and she wanted a meeting. She didn’t sound happy. I wasn’t either.

A couple of days later, the girl, the mom, and the dad showed up for a dual-family meeting. The girl burst into tears and apologized. The parents said they would not allow it to continue. They were also enrolling her in anger management classes. They apologized themselves and told us that they had not known about it at all ?and that they wished I had contacted them sooner.

Bullying Miracles – Seriously

The real miracle part of the story, I cannot explain. Somehow these good parents not only accepted responsibility for their daughter’s behavior, but they taught her in a way that changed her heart. Immediately, her public and private behavior toward my daughter made a 180 degree turnaround. And church changed from a dreaded experience, to one that my daughter looks forward to with great anticipation. A year later the two could be considered, at least, distant friends.

Thanks to these parents and a Young Women leader who was willing to take direct action, my daughter’s life was completely reversed.

I commend those leaders who take bullying seriously and deal with it without equivocation.

Addendum #1

It’s July 29, 2007. All this discussion has brought back painful memories, not all of them when I was the target. I am publishing a letter I wrote five and a half years ago to someone I could have helped, but never did.

Please read Dear Joanne.

May we all be courageous enough to act on what we know.

Addendum #2

It’s February 28th, 2014. My fourth daughter, Monica (16), was featured in a Mormon Message that went live today. (She is the blonde bullied girl.)  It’s called Bullying – Stop It and  uses Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s General Conference talk “The Merciful Obtain Mercy” as the narration.

As my dear childhood friend, Kimberly, said:

Alison, I just watched this message. Wow! It was just beautiful, and you must be so proud. This is such an important reminder for all of us. I can’t help but see the beautiful irony that your talented daughter stars in this message on bullying, a cause which is so profound for you. Full circle, my friend.

Amen. Please, watch and share this video with those you know. It can change lives.

Addendum #3

It’s March 16, 2014. As I type, the video has over 530,000 views on YouTube. Inexplicably, I have been surprised by how this subject has touched so many.

Because of this, I created a simple Family Home Evening about bullying. Check it out if you are interested.

{ 253 comments… add one }
  • SilverRain July 18, 2007, 4:42 am

    I want to know what those parents said to change the mind of their daughter.

  • facethemusic July 18, 2007, 6:36 am

    Oh Alison– things like this just break my heart and I’m so sorry that you and your daughter have such horrible memories from church-related experiences.
    We had similar problems in our YW a few years back- the racial issues as well. The one girl who was actually slugging at and threatening people was already gone, but we still had issues. And as you’ve experienced yourself, we TRIED the lessons on kindness, the talks about accepting people with differences, etc.
    I talked about it with my husband, who’s a police officer and has worked with kids from the inner city. He said, in so many words, “these are girls from families with alot of bad history, and from bad neighborhoods. They might have a sweet side to them, and good hearts buried deep in there. But that’s not what they show. They always have to act tough because that’s the environment they live in. They’re not going to respond to the “touchy feely” stuff. What they DO respond to is “other” toughness, to “command presence” — why? Because it’s what they deal with on a day to day basis– that’s the language they’ve learned to communicate in. To them, love and tenderness is weakness. You’re talking about kids who live in a neighborhood where toughness is what’s respected. Your “respected” if you’ve been to jail, have a scar from a bullet wound, or a tear-drop tatoo next to your eye. (they tatoo a tear for every person they’ve killed– no kidding) So then you go in there with “Jesus said we should be nice to each other” and they’re laughing behind your back. ”
    So we gave it a try, and finally had a big pow-wow with them “tough style”, and basically said, in very firm terms “Look- this is the Church of Jesus Christ. This is the one place where everyone should feel welcomed and loved and safe. If girl’s can’t even come to God’s house, without being teased and picked on then where CAN they go to be accepted? There’s enough hate and jealousy and fighting and gossping and teasing out in the world, in your neighborhoods and at your schools. It WILL NOT happen here.”
    We didn’t have a problem after that.
    Oh– I want to add–
    That “toughness” which really wasn’t “tough” at all, compared to what they see at school, opened a door. It’s sort of what broke through to them, and slowly but surely, they started softening up a little.
    When I look back on it, it’s like we were trying to speak French to people who only understood Chinese. So once we spoke in their language, and showed that we weren’t “weak” just because we were women, or because we were “religious”, or because we were usually tender and lovey-dovey- but that we could be tough AND loving, firm AND tender, then they started opening up a little to OUR language.
    Does that make sense?

  • JustRandi July 18, 2007, 7:48 am

    Alison, I really need to know what those people said to their daughter.
    We have been dealing with a bullying family for years. 3 girls who can be so mean – to each other and to everyone else. We’ve had lesson after lesson. The parents act supportive, but there is no change. It’s more of a “this is how girls act” attitude. The girls aren’t blatently mean in front of everyone, but they are sly and extremely gossipy, and that’s how they take people down.

    I loved your article, but my heart hurts for you and your daughter.

  • east-of-eden July 18, 2007, 8:00 am

    i have to say that this post dragged up A LOT of emotions and feelings in me. I might get rant-y in a bit!

    Growing up in the super-rich neighborhood and being just from a “regular” family was the issue for me. I always was made to feel less than important by the kids in my class and by the leaders to an extent because i was from a normal family. My mom didn’t get her hair and nails done every week and we had to clean our own house, I also had to share a room with my sister and did not have my own car to drive–oh the humanity!! When I made to Laurels one of the leaders kind of had a ‘cult of personality’ going on and I refused to be part of it. I did my own thing and completed my own value projects and whatnot on my own, which really bugged her. I was also very much into the music and drama scene at school, and many of my friends were not LDS. In fact, I had the audacity to go to prom with a Catholic boy. This didn’t sit well with this advisor and she was very mean, rude, scarcastic to me about my interests, friends and how I spent my time. She even went so far as to call people in the ward and tell/threaten them to not come to my mother’s ward choir. I would often complain to my parents about it, but they were so scared of retaliation that they felt they couldn’t do much of anything.

    Fast forward about 10 years, I’m home from my mission, BYU and am living at home going to Grad School. Her husband is one of the counselors in the singles ward. She comes up to me and started to give me a hard time etc. I had finally had enough. I told her how her verbal jabs made me feel and that I was an adult now so she could just back off. I never went back to that ward again. She is still a nasty mean woman and whenever I see her at home I walk the other way.

    My younger brothers also got physically harrased in this ward too. In fact, one boy tried to drown my brother at a scout activity, so he obliged the kid and “drowned”. About 4 mins later, after this kid was signifigantly scared my brother came up from the bottom of the pool and left scouts for good. The attitude of the leaders and the bishop was that “boys will be boys”. To which I say, boys will be boys if we let them just be boys and don’t train them to be young men! If the church insists on using the scout program for the young men, then lets live the principles taught by the scout organization–and when I say live, I mean do it every single day, no exceptions.

    I applaued the sister who was blunt with the girls in your laurel class. I have always thought this was the best way to deal with any issue–directly. Save the sweet lessons and the glass grapes for someone else. Kids are not stupid, and actually appreciate a direct approach. As a school teacher I’ve also found that a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy works well for any behavior problem.

    I think many people get to church and they–along with their children–think that regular rules of behavior don’t apply. When I taught primary a few years ago, there were kids doing things that I know would not have been acceptable in their classes at school. Why do we not require a higher standard of behavior at church? I tell you why, many parents see church/primary/YW-YM as a dumping ground and free babysitting for their kids while they go chat in the foyer during Sunday School. And many teachers don’t think it’s their place to say anything. Well it is, and we should and take the consequences–whatever it is.

    Thankfully, for me the other advior in my laurel class was a saint and protected me and encouraged me as much as she could. Last year when I was home I finally told her how she basically saved me from quitting church. She had no idea how I felt during that time. She is one of my heros.

    Rant over. 🙂

  • Eric Nielson July 18, 2007, 9:51 am

    Thank you for posting this. I am a teachers Quorum advisor and we have a diverse group of boys. I hope that I can be as brave if things get this bad in the future.

    Thanks again.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 18, 2007, 6:01 pm

    Silver, Randi, I do, too. But I don’t think I’ll ask them.

    Tracy, I agree with what you wrote. In my case as a child and my daughter’s here, however, this wasn’t the case at all. The worst offenders had generally stable families, good home lives, at least upper-middle class, etc. All life-long church members. It’s easier to see the “whys” among some of the groups you dealt with. I commend you for doing so.

    eden, so many great points.

    Posted By: east-of-edenGrowing up in the super-rich neighborhood and being just from a “regular” family was the issue for me. I always was made to feel less than important by the kids in my class and by the leaders to an extent because i was from a normal family.

    I have some strong feelings about this, but I’m not sure how to share them in a way that won’t come out wrong. Forgive me if I fail miserably.

    When we moved to Utah, we knew we wanted to have a little piece of land and build a great big house. But we didn’t want to live in a neighborhood of great, big, snooty houses. It’s kind of hard to delicately inquire about the snottiness rating of a neighborhood you’re considering.

    “Hi, we like this neighborhood, but want to know if the people are obsessed with money, believe there is a direct relationship between the size of your home and your righteousness, and/or where the members value clothes/cars and other status symbols an inordinate amount?”

    So, we hunted about whilst tiptoeing around the issue, asking what we thought we could. When we found our five acres here, I had made a contact that, finally, I just asked point blank. She is quite wealthy, but noted that the large lots hosted a mix of people from “mansionettes” to farmer homesteads and that ward members didn’t much care about it.

    It turned out that she was spot on about that and money and status symbols or lack of them have never had much influence here. (In hindsight, maybe if I had NOT looked for that quality my kids would have been given respect for the size of our house! You can’t win! ;:wink: )

    My mom didn’t get her hair and nails done every week and we had to clean our own house, I also had to share a room with my sister and did not have my own car to drive–oh the humanity!!

    Though I sometimes think it’s abusive, we clean our own house here, too. And they mow the half acre of just grass with a PUSH mower! (I haven’t been able to find anyone else in the ward who doesn’t ride ?) Does anyone consider that teaching our children to work rather than coddling them is a GOOD thing? Frankly, I’d love to get my nails done every week, but I just can’t keep those things intact ?and it’s hard to type and play any instrument with them.

    I told her how her verbal jabs made me feel and that I was an adult now so she could just back off.

    And there’s the interesting thing about bullies. MOST people are NOT bullies. But, even as adults, so many of us are absolute cowards. We site back and allow the bullying. And that gives the bullies power. Kudos on calling this woman on her behavior. How I wish more Mormons would see that standing up to evil IS doing good.

    If the church insists on using the scout program for the young men, then lets live the principles taught by the scout organization–and when I say live, I mean do it every single day, no exceptions.

    Amen. Does that mean they have to stop “peeing out” the fires? :shocked:

    And many teachers don’t think it’s their place to say anything. Well it is, and we should and take the consequences–whatever it is.


    Eric, welcome and thank you. The bravery you speak of is so crucial in our leaders. I hope I can be that brave as well.

  • Lewis_Family July 18, 2007, 8:20 pm

    I never really had to deal with bullies, though I know a few of my siblings did, but they learned right quick that it was something they didn’t want to do. My mom was half mexican, and so when she talked it could get loud let alone if you pissed her off. Lucky for my kids, I am a lot my mothers daughter, I don’t really talk like my mom, but she taught how not to take crap from anyone, so I hope my kids get that from me, because I learned that lesson well 😉

  • Kathy July 18, 2007, 10:10 pm

    Whatever happened to “Bob”?

    My husband was bullied…by a girl! She was older than him and relentless. Finally, his father told him to hide behind a bush and when she comes riding by on her bike, run and push her over as hard as he could. He did. And she never bothered him again.

    And that reminds me of when I was bullied once by this tall and obnoxious girl in high school. She was sitting in the seat behind me on a bus making fun of me. The more she did it, the madder I got. I told her to knock it off or I would hit her. Of course she didn’t believe me as I was almost the smallest in my class, kind, and quiet. She kept at it and, without thinking, I turned around and slapped her in the face. Now she was the quiet one and never bothered me after that.

    I could tell you another story of when I was in college, but you might get the wrong idea about me. :bigsmile:

  • Alison Moore Smith July 18, 2007, 11:12 pm

    Kathy, welcome. 🙂

    Bob is still around. I only see him at the class reunions. I don’t want to give any details because I’m not trying to out him. Those who were around already know who he is. The others don’t need to.

    I did have one funny incident a couple of years ago. When I was preparing to run the marathon with my old high school friend, she suggested that the night before the marathon we drive up early and stay over night with her good friend “Sue.” Sue is married to Bob. I nearly choked on my salmon and tried declined. She had no idea about any of the history.

    Lewis and Kathy, I appreciate your stories. I really struggle with knowing what to teach my kids. Teaching “Jesus said love everyone, treat them kindly, too.” leaves out how to teach them to protect themselves. I don’t think being Christlike requires one to be a doormat or a target. But I don’t know how far is appropriate. These days using physical force to combat emotional abuse will get you suspended and maybe even arrested. Emotional abuse isn’t really recognized among kids as being legitimate abuse. When the rock throwing stopped, I used to dream that Bob would punch me in the face so that (a) teachers would address it and (b) I could pummel him. He would have creamed me, but it would have felt good and, as you said, he might have decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

  • east-of-eden July 19, 2007, 7:30 am

    It’s interesting you mentioned that many people equate size of house with righteousness etc Alison. I don’t know if that is how people really feel in some places, but the last time we went to the Wasatch Front (and I’m not bagging on Utah here–there are many good people there) we went to dinner with some friends, and I felt that they thought this way, and that they felt sorry for us becuase we live in a small town, in a very small house and very old house with lots of quirks and not many perks (like a/c), but they really felt sorry for us because we were OK with it all. The situation really bothered me and then I was bothered that I was feeling guily for not wanting to ‘keep up appearances’ so to speak. This is totally off topic, so I hope that I’m not thread-jacking here.

    Back on topic–how do we teach our kids to effectively stand up to evil? Unfortunately meekness is equated with weakness. More importantly, how do we teach them to not be the bully? How do we in leadership positions effectively stamp out bullying? I know we can’t cry wolf, but how do we learn to dissern when a situation is serious. Perhaps if those being bullied felt they would be taken seriously they would seek help.

    As for pee-ing out the fires…disgusting, totally not in the scout handbook.

  • heather July 19, 2007, 10:55 am

    I have something to say here about how you tend to be treated according to your economic status. I too have been targeted. However, I am in the opposite position. I came from a large town to a small town and built a “modest” home. I won’t say how big it is but people watching it being built in this area called it the “new stake house”. Now mind you, it is no bigger than the homes being built on the wasatch front. But even my husband was afraid it had some “snobby potential”. I was terrified to move in once it was built because we were hearing rumors that we were “just another group of Utahn’s coming to change this town with our money.” My husband was welcomed with open arms because he was from here. But I on the other hand was treated soooooo different because I’m from Utah. When we moved in, I never got a “hello”, no one would come through my front door, ( a few brought cookies) but at church I got really sad reactions. I kid you not when I say I REALLY REALLY REALLY had to work hard to gain some respect and acceptance. But after the hard work, and mostly trying to focus on my callings and trying to “Love” the people to death, I am finally accepted and I can say I now Love my ward. I have made every effort possible to make this change for every new “Utahn” or other that has moved into this ward to feel welcome a hundred fold.

    All I hear now is how this town is changing and their mad because all these Utahns want to come and change the town. I want to say “Hello! I’m a Utahn and we’re not so bad!!!! Infact, we could bring some good to this town too!!!” (They don’t see me as an outsider anymore but still have this opinion about utahns.) I guess my example hasn’t made any change. I also found it funny how when I went through many deadly, and tragic moments in my life that is when they accepted me more too. It was almost like a frat house accepting their trialed guinea pig”. I know that’s negative but I am learning alot about how people can be judjmental according to how you look and live. I hope I can teach my kids valuable lessons about all this. I know I learned a lot from the stories in this blog!!

  • Alison Moore Smith July 19, 2007, 11:34 am

    Posted By: east-of-edenIt’s interesting you mentioned that many people equate size of house with righteousness etc

    It’s not a Utah thing, but it’s exacerbated in areas where Mormons are concentrated. There are areas in Utah I would never live. (And California and Idaho. I saw the same things in less LDS areas.) I already knew some of them because I grew up here, but after being in Florida for ten years, dynamics change and new areas pop up. Some of the areas that used to be exclusive 20 years ago, are just run-of-the-mill today. Now there are new “cool” neighborhoods. Some of them have attitudes that I do not want my kids to grow up in.

    Last year, when we decided to move away from Eagle Mountain (the bullying was a big factor (as it had not been resolved), but not the only one, by any means), we began looking for a lot to buy. Again we asked around and looked around. We wanted a half acre so we only looked at lots close to that size. Some of the neighborhoods were gorgeous and very exclusive. But most of them made me uncomfortable. All the “statement cars” and stuff. I don’t know, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it wasn’t the kind of surrounding I really wanted.

    When we narrowed our list down to two lots in Lindon, we attended both wards. I’d never done that before, but NOW I realized how great that impact could be. We went fasting and praying as a family. One ward seemed a great fit. The neighborhood, also, was just what we wanted. Half acre lots. Nice, clean homes and well-kept yards, but not an elaborate, showy places. Nice, decent, educated people.

    …(like a/c), but they really felt sorry for us because we were OK with it all.

    Well, TODAY I’m feeling sorry for you with no a/c! We’re spending over $800 per month on electricity and I’m STILL uncomfortable!

    Back on topic–how do we teach our kids to effectively stand up to evil?.. More importantly, how do we teach them to not be the bully?

    I realize now that since I was bullied and never did learn to resolve it, I simply don’t understand how one grows up without making oneself a target. I’m so far from being shy or reserved or a doormat now, as an adult, that it didn’t occur to me that some of my kids would inherit that tendency. Teaching my kids not to bully was probably one of the primary things I focused on when I began having kids. It totally backfired BECAUSE, I assume, I was unable to balance that with whatever kids need to do to be protected.

    So, now, I’m at a loss. I teach my kids and if they misbehave there is a consequence, but I refuse to make them pansies who have no defenses. Sometimes I’m not sure that I wouldn’t rather have my kids BE bullies than BE victims. As horrible as that sounds, some days I feel that way. Why? Well, look at me and look at Bob. What was the impact on his being a bully as opposed to the impact of my being bullied?

    I spent years trying to overcome the insecurities and fear. I did all sorts of stupid things that created all sorts of long-term problems trying to prove that he was wrong, that I was acceptable and had a right to be here. I’m 43 and it still lingers about a bit in the corners. Sheesh.

    He went up the ranks in the priesthood. Went to college and on a mission and married in the temple. He has a bunch of kids and makes a living doing what he loves. I don’t know if he ever even felt bad about it. If he did, he sure didn’t ever say anything to me about it. He knows how to find me if he wanted to. Yes, I do believe their is some impact on him, but I can’t see the manifestation anywhere. Maybe one day he thought, “Gosh, I shouldn’t have been so mean.” And then he moved on.

    Perhaps if those being bullied felt they would be taken seriously they would seek help.

    I think that is a big thing. Especially when the bullying and aggression is non-physical. I sincerely request that anyone working with youth read the book I linked in the article, Odd Girl Out. When DeNae, who had never really experience bullying, read it, the proverbial light bulb went on at 1,000 watts.

    Posted By: heatherI won’t say how big it is but people watching it being built in this area called it the “new stake house”.

    ROFL They called us “the overflow stake center.” (The back of our lot backs onto the stake center’s baseball park.) I thought I would die.

    Once in Sunday School the teacher made some reference to the the Pharisees and phylacteries. He said they thought the bigger the phylacteries the more righteous they were, “Kind of like Smiths house.” I couldn’t leave the room without making a scene, so I just sat there with my head down and my hair covering my face for the rest of class, tears streaming down my face. I know he was just trying to be funny and I felt so stupid for crying, but I also felt just horrible. I wanted to explain to everyone that we didn’t mean for the house to be so big (we just didn’t pay attention), that we didn’t think we were better than them, we didn’t think we were more blessed materially because we were more righteous. I wanted to point out that almost 2,000 square feet was for our company, that we homeschooled so the kids were there all day, that we actually had less square footage per person than lots of other people in the ward because of our family size, that we didn’t have horses and barns that lots of others did, that also cost a lot. I wanted to note that we buy lots of our clothes from Wal-Mart! I just felt awful.

    The poor teacher, who is a great guy, hunted me down to apologize–which I dreaded. He was just joking around and I knew it, he just hit this very tender spot. We had moved there to a great extent because we wanted to have a larger house to accommodate our lives, but we didn’t want it to MEAN anything. And when it seemed to mean something, it made me feel awful.

    And then there’s the side of me that has lived with four kids in a 1,500 square foot home with two businesses who wants to smack me for being so sensitive. Wah, wah, poor baby.

    When we built this house, I told the builder I did not want to know how big it was. We put in what we needed, period. I wanted to be able to honestly tell people I didn’t know how big it was. I didn’t want to appear to be bragging. I didn’t want God to think that I was proud about it. And when people asked, which happened ALL the time, I just shrugged. When we put it on the market, they calculated the square footage and plastered it all over the internet. We were the cover home on one of those grocery store real estate magazines. Suddenly my big secret was out. And you know what? It was just a stupid number. It didn’t make any difference at all. Except that it’s really hard to keep clean.

    Heather, I appreciate your insights.

  • Lewis_Family July 19, 2007, 12:24 pm

    Just a side note~ we never had to use physical force in any of our issues, it was all words and bringing in the right people.

  • east-of-eden July 19, 2007, 2:30 pm

    Don’t feel sorry for us and the no a/c thing. I live in N-NM at 8000 feet elevation and there are about only 3 weeks, and it’s not even days in a row, where it’s uncomfortable. I also grew up in Phoenix, which as you may or may not know is the belly of hell–so heat, bring it on. When I’m hot and feel like complaining I often tell myself that most people in the world don’t have a/c so quitcherwhinein’. Of course tomorrow we are leaving our mountain chalet to go home and see the family. The only reason we would go to Phx at this time of year is that my long-lost sister and her band of wee ones have returned from an eastern state for a quick vay-cay. I”m planning that we will melt in about 3.4 seconds after getting off the plane, so I’ve planned our funeral already–it’s being held in a dixie cup, our melted remains are to be frozen and saved for posterity and ice sculpted into Greecean Urns later. We also get our pay back in the winter when we have to pay obscenely high heating bills…old + drafty = $$

    As for the size of our houses, that is very unfortunate that you were picked on in SS. I would have walked out, out, out. But I get it about the toxic areas in any place you live. There are those same areas in my very small town too. There are certian neighborhoods that have a reputaion (good, bad, weathly, ghetto and so on). It’s too bad that we just can’t see past it and just all get along.

    In my stake growing up the rift between the apparent haves and the apparent have nots was so wide, they totally gerrymandered the ward boundaries to break up one neighborhood in particular. My parents lived on the edge of that neighborhood and were cut out and put into a different ward. Mom says it’s been a wonderful change and she would never go back to the way it was. And as an added benefit, that’s how I met my husband. My BIL was in the new ward and he introduced me to my husband.

  • facethemusic July 19, 2007, 3:58 pm

    I”m planning that we will melt in about 3.4 seconds after getting off the plane, so I’ve planned our funeral already–it’s being held in a dixie cup, our melted remains are to be frozen and saved for posterity and ice sculpted into Greecean Urns later.

    HA! Mr. Keats would be proud.

  • agardner July 19, 2007, 5:53 pm

    Reading this has brought up so many memories. My ONLY bullying experience was at church, and it’s still painful to this day. I don’t know if it can really be called bullying since there were no threats or physical action, but it was a lot of gossip and exclusion that was really hurtful. At fourteen, we moved to a new town (horrible time to move!). We were living in an apartment while we found permanent housing. It was quite a wealthy ward but these apartments were kind of considered the “scum” of the ward.

    The first several weeks there, the girls all literally sat across the room from me (and moved if I sat next to them) and whispered at each other while looking at me. I’m sure the leaders knew it was going on but no one did anything about it. Finally, my mom just told me to come to RS with her instead of going to YW, since it wasn’t our permanent ward. I think we lived there for about 3 months. Going to RS probably just made it worse because then people knew there WAS a problem and still didn’t want to do anything about it. I could not wait to get out of that ward! And we actually moved into a ward that neighbored this one and was very nice. I made some great friends in that new ward. But the experience did help me to see how hurtful this behavior is to people. Today, I remember the names of every single one of those “mean girls” and they would probably have no idea who I am – or if they did remember me they would probably be appalled at their behavior as adults. But at the time, it was just the thing to do to people who lived in apartments, I guess.

    I’m glad I’ve seen it from that side in some ways, but still wish that no one would have to go through that kind of experience. It’s really hard on a kid, and I can see that it did damage my confidence (I didn’t super-achieve like you did, Alison. In fact, I think I was kind of on the super-achieve track and it sort of knocked me off my confidence level.)

    I think kids just have no clue how much this can affect others unless they are bluntly told that what they are doing is harmful. They think it’s a joke. I’m sure Bob probably thought he was the funniest guy around, and he probably got a lot of positive-reinforcement for what he was doing, unfortunately.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 20, 2007, 12:37 am

    The dixie cup analogy was just too poetic for words.

    agardner, thanks for relating your story. You’re destined to be called into YW some day to save some poor girl!

    Posted By: agardnerI didn’t super-achieve like you did, Alison.

    So is it the pageants that mean I’m a “super-achiever”??? 🙂

  • east-of-eden July 20, 2007, 6:05 am

    The Greecean Urns is more of a tribute to Mayor Shin’s Wife in the Music Man….classic. Everytime we had a family talent show my sister and a few of the cousins and I would re-create that scene word for word….it put the whole family into stitches everytime.

    My ONLY bullying experience was at church, and it’s still painful to this day. I don’t know if it can really be called bullying since there were no threats or physical action, but it was a lot of gossip and exclusion that was really hurtful.

    This is still bullying. It does not have to be a physical act. We just as there is emotional and psycological (sp??) abuse so there can be the same with bullying. The result was the same, perhaps even more devestating though. You still remember it and are be affected by it.

    But Nephi said it best, “there must be opposition in all things” If we don’t have these growing experiences we will never change and become the people our Father in Heaven needs us to become. I know from my experiences I never wanted anyone to feel left out because of what patch was on the back pocket of their jeans, consequently my sister and I had a very motley group of friends (not be be called a Motely Crew, because that would have been a ‘heavy metal band’ and that would have made our brains melt–at least according to Mom). I never wanted anyone to feel left out–so my sister and I included them, consequently we went of lots of charity dates and had interesting experiences, but these too made us better people.

  • facethemusic July 20, 2007, 6:33 am

    Charity dates?? Your verbiage is crystal clear and funny!

  • agardner July 20, 2007, 7:55 am

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithThe dixie cup analogy was just too poetic for words.

    agardner, thanks for relating your story. You’re destined to be called into YW some day to save some poor girl!

    Posted By: agardnerI didn’t super-achieve like you did, Alison.

    So is it the pageants that mean I’m a “super-achiever”??? 🙂

    Well, the pageants and just that it seems you have done a lot with your life in many ways. It’s dumb, but I still feel effects of that experience in my confidence in approaching new people and such.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 20, 2007, 8:01 am

    That’s nice. Thanks. It’s not dumb, agardner. FWIW, one of my other daughters (older than the one in the story) went to RS with me for a few months when she couldn’t face the girls in church, too. Fortunately, there have always been a couple of nice girls in her group, but even our BISHOP tells her that she’s better off not being friends with most of them, since they simply aren’t nice kids. 🙁

  • momof2 July 20, 2007, 10:21 am

    I also experienced bullying when I was young. When I was 10 my dad got a new job and we moved to a new town. There was another family that moved into our new ward a month or so after us who had a daughter my same age. I was delighted and hoped we would be friends. She even went to my school!

    The other girl – call her S. – turned out to be quite a leader, the kind of girl you just naturally went along with. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a very nice person. (Looking back, I can’t help thinking she must have been unhappy herself to have been so mean to others.) I unthinkingly went along with her actions until the day that we made fun of another girl at primary, who was excited about her new shoes. They were a poor family, so that was a big deal to her. S. mocked her for being excited about something like new shoes and I and the other girl in our class made fun of her, too. She went home crying, and her mother called my mother.

    Oh. Wow. Was my mother ever angry.

    It was a half hour drive out to their house, and I think my mother lectured me the whole time. We got there, I was told where she was, I went out there, and I apologized – profusely and sincerely. I honestly hadn’t thought about her feelings during all this, just my own desire to be accepted. I felt terrible and very ashamed when my mother pointed out how much I’d hurt her. We went back home as soon as I had done that and I never knowingly did anything like that again. (OTOH, I am very good at putting my foot in my mouth and saying stupid things, which gives me many opportunities to practice apologizing!)

    That’s not the end of the story, though. Now that I had repented I wouldn’t / couldn’t participate in S’s little games anymore. So, she turned on me. And, because we were in school together as well, it escalated into a nightmare. She managed to make sure that I had no friends at school or at church. I was mocked everywhere I went. I had things thrown at me. If I sat down next to someone at church she would get up and move away from me. New girls moving in were warned to stay away from me – kindness to me would be punished with a similar ostracism. And it wasn’t just my age group – she managed to turn the entire Mutual against me. Two incidents in particular stand out in my memory. One fast Sunday, the boy I had a crush on stood up and bore his testimony about how united and wonderful the Mutual was – except for some people, who were … well, I forget exactly how he phrased it, but it was clear to me, and everyone else, that he was talking about me, as the snake in the Eden of Mutual.

    The low point, however, was when we were coming home from my first temple trip. The bus we were on broke down, and we were all at a diner, while the bishop and the other brethren tried to fix it. It was after midnight when I turned a corner and found that, all of a sudden, all the teenagers wandering aimlessly around the parking lot had coelesced into a spearhead, pointed at me. The leader, and point of the spear, was S. Before I had a chance to react she verbally attacked me, telling me that everyone was sick of what a horrible person I was, and that I had better shape up and act more like the way they wanted me to.

    I looked at her, and at the triangle of youth formed up behind her, nodding their agreement, hate for me clear in their expressions. I was dumbfounded that she, a 12 year old girl, had managed to get the entire Mutual combined against me, to get even the Laurels and Priests following her lead. I looked back at S., leaning forward a little, hands on her hips, the fluorescent light streaking across her face in bands of light and shadow, her face smugly self-righteous. The bully, safely backed by her gang.

    I slapped her.

    And then, I ran off before anyone could retaliate, to sit alone in the bus, crying and heartbroken. One leader came up and asked why I was crying and I poured out my woes on her shoulder. She sympathized and tried to comfort me, but also shushed me, because S’s mother was nearby and might hear me. I felt guilty then for saying what I had and worried that I’d get S’s mother mad at me.

    When I got home I got in trouble with my parents for slapping S.

    In a book, that would have made everything better. But, this was real life, and instead my life just continued on in ostracism and misery, at church and at school. Fortunately, we moved a couple of years later, which I attribute to the Lord taking a hand in things. The ward we moved into was wonderful and I soon had plenty of friends – at church and at school. But the scars lingered and I was always afraid. When I graduated from high school, I went to Rick’s, where I ran into a girl from that ward. It occurred to me that S. might be there too. I looked her up, and sure enough, there she was, in the phone book. I called, she answered, and I hung up, too frightened of her to confront her as I had half-planned to do. I didn’t repeat the experiment, just fervently hoped I wouldn’t wind up in a class with her. My last semester I saw her, briefly. I was on my way to listen to a tape for a language class and I passed her coming out of that area. My heart stopped and my stomach felt like it had been turned to ice. I held my breath and walked stiffly past her, trying to look casual, hoping she wouldn’t recognize or notice me. She didn’t stop, or seem to notice me at all. It was quite awhile before my breathing slowed to normal levels, though.

    The bullying haunted me for several years after that, until I had some spiritual experiences that allowed me to forgive her. I don’t really think about her now, or about that experience, except as a learning experience. I want to teach my children not to be bullies, and I want to teach them the social skills they need to keep from getting bullied. I tend to try to protect the underdog. I recognize when someone I work or socialize with is getting stuck with a hateful label and work to break up perceptions like that.

    Sometimes I do think about her, and what I’d do if I ran into her now. I think I would probably confront her – not angrily, but quietly. I would remind her of who I was and tell her just how much she’d hurt me all those years ago. And then I would wait to see how she reacted. I would hope she’d apologize. Whatever she did, though, I would leave it behind at that and try to fellowship her as a sister in the gospel.

    At least, I think that’s how I hope I’d react.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 20, 2007, 2:58 pm

    Oh momof2, my heart is broken. I have nothing to say except that such behavior is evil. It’s not “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls” and it’s time that those who lead the youth stand up and stop being cowards. They have a duty to protect the children in their charge and that duty FAR outweighs to duty to make sure everyone attends.

  • BetseyB July 20, 2007, 3:28 pm

    I saw all of that go on in my ward, too, as a young girl. Most of it was in the boy’s circle though…the leaders response? Either ignoring it altogether (“boys will be boys!”) or joining in the “fun” with their own comments :/I felt so bad for the pudgy boy….the poor boy…the dorky boy, etc. And for some reason, no one seemed to understand that THESE BOYS need the most support and praise! NOT “teasing” that to them was obviously spirit-breaking and humiliating. I saw it happen with the boys my age, and then a few years later with my younger brother. I put a portion of the blame onto those horrid boys and ignorant leaders for the way my brother’s life has turned out. Church should be the one sanctuary left when all else in life has failed us. Leaders should be actively looking for the odd-man-out and doing all he can to lift them up and include them. And all too often leaders just look the other way for fear of offending the offendee or thinking “oh its just something kids do”.

    I’m so glad it was finally taken seriously in your ward. I only wish someone had been there for my brother, too. 🙁

  • Lewis_Family July 20, 2007, 3:29 pm

    I learned that at a young age, that words are quite powerful and can be more damaging than smacking someone. I use to say that sticks and stone may break your bones but words can hurt your soul. It’s sad that kids who have figured that out use it in such an un-Christlike way. Seriosuly, and if you can’t even go to church to be safe, wher can you go?

  • mlinford July 20, 2007, 3:51 pm

    Add another thing we have in common…age 13-14 was a nightmare for me. The girls in my ward decided that they didn’t want to be my friends anymore, and told me so. They told me they didn’t want to sit with me at lunch anymore. Add that to the open teasing and mocking in the halls by other students, having things written on the bathroom about me…it was awful.

    This also happened to me when I was an adult. Gossiping, etc. — made all the worse because I was working with the youth and the adults pulled the youth into their charades. Hard stuff. One of the few times I understood how hard it can be to go to church when you feel like an outcast. (I’m glad I still did because these things do pass, and things did get better to some degree.)

  • Lewis_Family July 20, 2007, 3:58 pm

    Seriously, where did you guys grow up? I must have been so ingrossed in school that I never noticed that bad of things going on or something. For real, throwing things at you? Glory.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 20, 2007, 4:19 pm

    Betsey, now that I’m an old lady, I don’t think anything makes me madder than unfairness. The leaders you spoke of make me sick.

    Yea, Lewis, I got rocks thrown at my head. That was the only time I went home from the bus stop crying. Every other time I walked really slowly, trying to time my arrival with that of the bus. If I got there early, it was horrible. I remember standing like a soldier, staring straight at the house across the street, pretending not to hear or see what they were doing.

    I had one friend named Lanae who probably had it just as bad. She still sucked her thumb in kindergarten. Haven’t thought about that in a long time. She probably deserves a blog of her own.

    Oh, I grew up in Orem, Utah. Every kid at my bus stop was in my ward.

  • agardner July 20, 2007, 9:04 pm

    Speaking of throwing things – I once had a boy who teased me all the time. I couldn’t stand him. Really, I thought he was quite mean. One day (I think this was 6th-7th grade he spit in my hair! That was all I could take and I went home crying and told my mom she had to do something. She was friends with his mom and gave her a call, and soon he was at my doorstep apologizing and admitting that he was only doing it because he had a crush on me and didn’t know how to get my attention. If only all bullying were about that! I think with most bullies, it’s their own insecurity that spawns it.

    Mlinford, we do seem to have a lot in common, don’t we?! I can’t imagine feeling ostracized like that as an adult, I guess I just assume all adults are “grown-up”, although I have heard of things like what you mentioned so I know they do happen.

  • mollymormon July 21, 2007, 11:19 pm

    I got picked on a lot because I am a small person in the first place, but also because I not only skipped 1st grade, but my birthday was at the end of the school year. So I was extra small and of course labeled as the brain. In 2nd grade (remember, I was only 6!), I remember very clearly a teacher’s 5th grade son was bugging me, so I took him down. I remember him lying on the ground wit me sitting on him and punching him! (It was probably ME that was the bully, lol!) Yeah, he never bugged me again.

    Anyway, I had people bugging me all the time. In 4th grade, the (completely insensitive) teacher would often make us line up by height, which of course always mortified the really tall girl at one end, and me at the other end. Except of course the one time I passed up Mike, and he was the shortest (and thus mortified that *I* was taller than he was.) What is the point of that?

    So now for my story that is similar yet with a different outcome than the one agardner told. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, the kid behind me kept bugging bugging bugging me (poking, swatting, etc), so one day, I got up, sharpened my pencil, sat down at my desk and promptly stabbed him in the back. Looking back now, I cannot believe I did that! He actually went and told on me. The school counselor brought us in to his office, and proceeded to give both us a lecture about how when two people like each other they sometimes bug each other but we should do it more nicely. Perhaps the boy liked me, but I was just extremely annoyed by him, and that lecture just made me even more angry! The boy did stop bugging me, though. I doubt he liked me after that, lol!

    In high school, I still got picked on a lot, but ignoring mostly worked too. My group of friends was really into “slamming” and we all actually got really good at it. (As a sidenote, this slamming “talent” horrified my dh when I first met him! I didn’t realize I was so bad that way until I met him. I was scared to even open my mouth in front of his family for the first few years of marriage! I’ve had to work extra hard to get over that. I still do it sometimes, but it’s not the habit it used to be.) Anyway, I never really fit in at school. I had my school friends who would constantly plan activities and never invite me. I had my church friends I did stuff with, but I was ahead of them in school, so never saw them there. Interestingly, I was almost always the “go between girl”, who was always friends with both groups of girls in YW. The very volatile daughter of the bishop always liked me even though she changed friends more often than socks. She always had to hate someone, it seemed. Somehow I made it through to my senior year, at the end of which one of my “school friends” wrote in my yearbook that she always thought I was a brat, but this last year I was much better. Boy that sure made me feel great–not!

    I never told my mother about any of this, btw. My mom had no idea what was going on at school. I just got back or avoided most of the time. So I post this for two reasons. I sometimes wonder if I would’ve been considered a bully at times (even though my memory says I was just sticking up for myself.) And I also wonder how we teach our children to deal with bullies. Yes, they should stand up to them, but no, they should really not resort to physical violence (even though it seems that’s what it takes) or verbal abuse. Our next door neighbors are terrible bullies. When we first moved in, my kids tried to play nicely with them, but they are loudmouthed, foulmouthed, rude, physical and downright mean. One kid would punch my oldest son, and then when he would cry, taunt him and call him a crybaby (even though we’d hear this boy crying all the time in the backyard when fighting with his brother just to get his mom to sympathize). When they tried to do night games in the culdesac, the neighbor boys would argue and fight and put down the others that no one would ever have any fun. I didn’t really feel comfortable talking to the mom, but I did bring up my concerns a few times. their mom just said they were hard kids. My son just completely avoids the boys. When he does run across them, he just treats them nicely until they aren’t, and then he leaves. Now those boys are starting to bug my 6 year old. When my 6 yo ds walks to his friend’s house, he has to go past the next door neighbors house. They will often taunt him, and call to him and try to make him do stupid stuff. All I know what to do is tell him to ignore them! So I still wonder how to deal with that.

  • momof2 July 22, 2007, 7:42 pm

    Posted By: mollymormonAll I know what to do is tell him to ignore them! So I still wonder how to deal with that.

    Which brings up a good point. Yeah, I was bullied – but have I learned from that experience how to handle bullies? No. I don’t know how to teach my children how to be assertive without becoming bullies themselves. And how do I teach them to be kind and loving and thoughtful – and not be victims?

    Right now we are dealing with a little girl across the street whose parents just got divorced. She’s really acting out, and being pretty horrible, especially to my youngest. My two girls want to play with her, and sometimes I can look out and see them having lots of fun together, but there are many times my youngest will come home crying and I have to explain once again to the girls that ostracizing somebody is going to mean I won’t let them play together anymore. And then things get better, for a while. We’ve advised my oldest that she needs to stand up for her sister and not let the neighbor girl be mean to her. And my oldest is doing very well at that, and she’s learning that the neighbor girl wants to play with them enough to change her behavior when she realizes she won’t play with anyone if she doesn’t play with both of them. But, I see more and more problems like this ahead of us and I’m wondering – what do I need to teach my children so that they will be strong enough to handle the inevitable bullying attempts they are going to encounter? How can I “bully-proof” my child? Is it even possible?

  • Alison Moore Smith July 22, 2007, 8:39 pm

    There are, now, a number of books that address this. Maybe we should read one in September?

  • mlinford July 22, 2007, 8:44 pm

    My two girls want to play with her, and sometimes I can look out and see them having lots of fun together, but there are many times my youngest will come home crying and I have to explain once again to the girls that ostracizing somebody is going to mean I won’t let them play together anymore. And then things get better, for a while.

    I would recommend that if you are going to have them play together, that you do it at your house so you can monitor and referee and teach as necessary. It’s hard to know what to do when we don’t see what is happening.

  • Ladanea July 24, 2007, 8:18 am

    Thank you for writing about this. I, too, was bullied as a child at school and church, and never learned how to deal with it properly. Instead I ended up making some very poor choices based on my overwhelming desire to be accepted and loved, and have paid a heavy price. I don’t think any of those kids have the slightest idea what their treatment did to me, and that makes me very sad. My children have been blessed to have very wonderful friends at church and in the neighborhood, and I am so grateful for this because, honestly, if I had the slightest hint that any bullying were going on, I think I’d beat up the offending child. And that would be my worst decision yet. (Still not over it yet, am I?)

  • Alison Moore Smith July 24, 2007, 12:20 pm

    Ladanea, welcome and thank you for your comments. I don’t have any idea how to get “over it.” It’s not the worst thing that could happen to anyone, but the residual still comes up now and again.

  • mollymormon July 25, 2007, 11:56 pm

    I love the humor suggestions! Especially the short of stature one. Of course humor don’t always work since some people/kids are bound and determined to be bullies no matter what. But still, the more tools you can have in your war chest, the better. And I’m sure if you can practice them beforehand, they just might work.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 26, 2007, 1:36 am

    The self-deprecating humor didn’t work with Bob. He just added it to his repertoire.

  • Oregonian July 26, 2007, 10:59 am

    Great article. Painful, too.

  • ChanJo July 28, 2007, 4:18 pm

    Allison, I just went down that long road with you. I wasn’t a target much, but I saw such things over and over. I am so sorry. I love this article and have passed it on. I think it was very important for you to _first_ share the real, long pain of the situation and then show the resolve. People who haven’t seen it don’t care much, and they need to see why they should care.

    Thanks for sharing a personal pain you have carried. Maybe all of us can do our part to make sure it doesn’t happen to those where we serve.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 28, 2007, 4:34 pm

    Thank you, ChanJo. I appreciate that very much this morning.

    I have been criticized elsewhere about my delivery of this article. But honestly, I don’t know how else to deliver the experience I had. I don’t know how else to convey how it felt and what it did to my soul, except to just lay it out there as it sits in my heart. There it is. Do we care or not? Is it a problem worth addressing, or not? I think it is and have appreciated all the insight and thoughts from all of you.

  • daisy July 28, 2007, 9:09 pm

    THere is a lot here. I’ve read most of it. LIke most everyone, I too have experienced bullying both as a child and seen my children mistreated. AND YOU CAN’t ALWAYS MOVE darn it! AND a LOT — most of the bullying happened at church with yw leaders taking a blind eye. while it was happening i was so frustrated and hurt and worried that if my children did not have good friends in the gospel they would not stay and truthfully it has had an affect on their lives.

    and it can hurt to see those bully’s grow up and marry in the temple and be yw leaders themselves and wonder at the justice of it all. but very probably they have issues i don’t know about, hurts of their own they have to deal with.

    all things give us experience though. I can only have faith that God knows what he is doing.

    I talked to those young women leaders too(whose daughters were inflicting the pain)– one was the wife of the first counselor in our ward and oh so pious. she just stared blankly at me as if i had made a faux paux for even bringing the subject up.

    the bottom line is we all have different experiences in our lives that effect who we are but ULTIMATLELY who we become depends on how we decide to process what happens to us.

    one person can be bullied and they can decide to never go to that church again if that’s what kind of people it produces.
    another person can see that a bully’s actions are not what any RELIGION teaches and certainly not the true gospel of Christ.

    my heart goes out to any mother watching their children go through these difficult circumstances now, we can’t change others actions, we can only change our own.
    do all you can to right injustices and then forgive (it will ease your pain )and leave it to God.

  • daisy July 28, 2007, 9:15 pm

    I might add that a person might decide in their hurt and anger to “never go to church again” but then later – hours maybe, days, sadly sometimes years later- that giving up on the gospel or not attending church is not the answer. life is a process.

  • agardner July 28, 2007, 9:50 pm

    Very well said, Daisy.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 29, 2007, 1:53 am

    Ditto what agardner said. Thanks daisy.

  • Oregonian July 29, 2007, 9:59 am

    I have been criticized elsewhere about my delivery of this article.

    What were you supposed to do? Thank Bob for allowing you the opportunity to grow and develop in ways you wouldn’t have without being tortured for years? Sheesh. Let’s not talk about what really can happen, because it makes people uncomfortable. Or maybe the complainer was a “Bob”.

  • east-of-eden July 30, 2007, 7:44 am

    I have been criticized elsewhere about my delivery of this article.

    Where and by who? Or is it whom? I can never tell.

    Are we supposed to pretend this problem does not exist? Because it does, as evidenced by the comments here. Hellooooooo! Just because some one is a Mormon does not make them a nice person at church.

    I will say again, what I’ve said before, we have to address the subject of bullying at church right away, everytime, all the time, if it is happening! If some leader, or pious first counselor’s wife get’s their knickers in knot from the truth then so be it. Your husband’s calling is in no way a reflection of your righteousness, your standing with God or you place in line for the Celestial Kingdom.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2007, 9:26 am

    The critique was made by email, but it was posted briefly on a site as well. I asked for clarification, but haven’t received any, so I’m not really sure what the problem was except that they didn’t seem to like my tone. As I said, I’m not sure what other tone I could have used. Maybe I’m not sure what tone I DID use, but my intent was simply to give a glimpse of what was in my heart as a child. :confused:

    Anyway, eden, I think you’re right. It does have to be dealt with. And I think the only way to deal with it is very honestly–particularly with regard to what the bullying actually DOES to people. That is not going to be a cheerful, tidy Primary story. All these kids could answer the Primary story questions just as if they read it directly out of the manual. It was the application that dropped into the big black hole.

    Anyone remember the probably overly dramatic church movie Cyber in the Snow? Everyone in my class, even the Gang of Bob, seemed to respond to the “poor kid” in the movie and all of them thought the other kids should have been kind. I remember watching it in my class and thinking that NOW they would get it! Now they’d understand. Now they would stop. Did they know that some days I wanted to die? Did they know I was hospitalized with an ulcer in SECOND grade due to the anxiety over facing them? Now they could see what cruelty did!

    But there was absolutely zero connect between this understanding and these thoughts and their BEHAVIOR.

    FWIW, this is something I really try to work on with my own Valiant 11. I try to connect every week what they do with REAL people, with what they SAY in class. They all know the correct answers. They need to USE them. We all do.

  • agardner July 30, 2007, 10:32 am

    Lol Alison, I think you’ve been spending too much time in cyber-space. It’s Cipher in the Snow. 🙂

    Yes, it was overly dramatic, but it sure did hit home for me. I thought it was a good flick.

    You make a great point about the connection between understanding and behavior. If we could answer that question (not just in bullying but in all aspects of life) wouldn’t life be a lot easier? For some reason we as humans sometimes think the lesson only applies to other people and can’t see the message that’s in it for us.

  • east-of-eden July 30, 2007, 10:33 am

    Elder Holland’s latest conference address (April 07) addresses how our words can effect people. Eleven year olds would be old enough to get this.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2007, 1:51 pm

    It’s Cipher in the Snow.

    :bigsmile: Gosh, I kept looking at that as I typed it. I thought, “Wow, what did we think “cyber” meant back then?” And I remembered a New Era story my sister read to me called something like “Cyrano the Cybernet.” Figured there must be a connection. :tongue: I’m really slow today!

    Eden, I actually have that talk open on my treadmill stand. I’ve been reviewing it as I run each day. Really great message, one that I need to review about every four minutes.

  • momof2 July 30, 2007, 11:11 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smith“Cyrano the Cybernet.”

    I remember that story! Wow – that takes me back. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2007, 11:59 pm

    Mom, I think that means we both qualify as ancient!

    My sister and I shared a room most of our lives. She is four years older. (Read that: “super ancient”) One year she decided to read stories to me each night. (I was in later elementary school.) She usually read from the New Era and explained all the stories to me when I was clueless. I don’t know if it was some personal progress thing or if she just came up with the idea, but it’s one of my favorite memories of her when we were kids. Along with the time she stole the refrigerator box and how she had to plug her ears to get to sleep because I talked so much. Yea, I know you’re all shocked.

  • heather July 31, 2007, 12:24 am

    So Alison,

    Were you like me in that you were always sitting in the back of the classroom by yourself because you couldn’t stop talking? Every year, my parents would receive the same sad scenario of “daughter is very intelligent and doing well but won’t shut-up” kind of a thing. I am convinced at this point in my life that my eyesight was signficantly altered from having to squint at everything from the very back of the room. I’ve considered legal action. Let’s see, are Siegfried and Jenson still practicing? I can see it now: “Idaho woman sues Utah school district for damaged retinas – District retaliates with “Blame it on the lips”. :tongue:

  • heather July 31, 2007, 12:28 am

    Actually, my lips kind of hurt too. Hmmmm…………

  • momof2 July 31, 2007, 6:07 am

    Older than you think, Alison! I wasn’t in elementary school when I read that the first time. 😥

    Help an old woman across the street?

  • Alison Moore Smith July 31, 2007, 9:41 am

    :surprised: :bigsmile: heather, you have no idea! My parents always heard, “Alison does very well in her schoolwork, but she visits with her neighbor too much.”

    I could never figure out why they thought I was talking to Sister Winkler.

    Let me know how the litigation goes. :bigsmile:

    mom, once we’re 40, it’s all just a big mush pot of wrinkles and wisdom. We no longer need to get picky about which particular decade we belong to. :bigsmile:

    Frankly, I’m always so glad to have “older” people join in. They are underrepresented due to the technology–and they have crucial viewpoint, experience, wisdom.

  • Sue September 16, 2007, 4:10 pm

    I’m teaching my kids to be kind, compassionate and loving. But when someone is mean or rude to you, you tell them to stop, that they are not allowed to talk to you like that. Look them in the eye. Don’t back down. Don’t apologize for standing your ground. Don’t try to get the approval of the other person. Let them know you have power in the situation. Giving someone else all of the social power to control what happens to you is a very bad idea.

    When I was 9, there was a girl who tormented me on the bus, every single day. She was LDS, we were in the same ward, she had a reputation for being very, very good. But she threatened to beat me up every day. So one day when we got off the bus, I told her I was sick of it and to take her best shot. Three years of judo served me pretty well and she ended up flat on her back. She left me alone after that. Not because she was afraid of me, but because I’d regained my social power and the other kids could see that. I wasn’t the weak person, the one the other kids could afford to pick on.

    There were other situations throughout my teens where people tried to bully and pick on me. We were poor, I was awkward, I made an easy target. But I stood up for myself, every time. I went to the ring leader, every time. One time at music camp, where I was on scholarship, a pack of girls were tormenting me, calling me names everyday on the way to practice. So one night back at our cabin, when everyone was there, I confronted the ringleader, asking her why she was treating me that way. She made a few excuses and after every excuse, I stood up for myself and told her she had to stop. I wouldn’t go away. I stood there bothering her for at least 20 minutes, not backing down. Eventually a few other girls in the cabin joined in, telling her she ought to be nice to me. And once she saw I wasn’t the total easy target she’d thought I was, she stopped. Bullies often won’t stop until you make it so difficult, so uncomfortable for them to continue bullying you that they find a different target. That’s why ignoring it, or trying to avoid it, or trying to be nice to the bully doesn’t work.

    I think getting bullying to stop sometimes can be achieved by talking to someone, through getting through to someone, by appealing to their better nature. The problem with relying on appealing to someone’s better nature, is that you’re gambling that they have one or that they will care about what you have to say. And you’re still leaving them the power to make that choice. Changing the power dynamic, taking away their social power to bully you – you’re not relying on what they choose to do. You’re taking away the choice.

    Bullies are jerks. Trying to change a bully by talking to them about Christlike love isn’t very effective.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 16, 2007, 9:23 pm

    Posted By: SueThe problem with relying on appealing to someone’s better nature, is that you’re gambling that they have one or that they will care about what you have to say.

    Sue, welcome! This is a very important observation.

    I have a couple of questions for you about application. In the first example, with the girl on the bus, what if she had cleaned your clock? IN the second, what if the other girls had sided with the bully, not you?

    I love your thoughts and really do think you’re on the right track, I can just see some situations when this might break down and I’m wondering what you’d do.

  • jennycherie September 16, 2007, 10:50 pm

    You know, I think you have to have a list of possible responses to bullying and keep trying until you get the one that works. Appealing to someone’s better nature might work in some cases and using humor might work in others. We are dealing with this with our oldest daughter, who makes an easy target for many reasons. We are working on teaching her skills like, don’t take it—say something, ANYthing to them when they threaten you; have a pat response for when they tell you you’re walking too slow (like, what are you in a hurry for? can’t wait to do more math? or I’m not in a hurry right now, why don’t you walk in front of me), speak loudly in a firm voice, tell the teacher IMMEDIATELY (because it is harder to address when the problem is a week old and is not readily visible to authority figures). . . there has to be more. ANYway, it’s been nice to re-read this tonight as it has been on my mind. The other thing we are worrying about is how to stop bullying in the home. We are noticing some clear bullying between siblings and I am not convinced it is enough to say “brothers and sisters fight” or it’s normal for them to bicker. Bickering is one thing and could, perhaps, be ignored. But what about when the bully is your brother or sister? What about when one child is clearly being cruel to another? We are working hard at always “naming the behavior” and stating that it must stop: “That is bullying, that will not happen in our home–take 5 and calm down while you think of a different way to handle this” . . . but that seems so lame at times. what to do, what to do . .. .

  • SilverRain September 17, 2007, 4:32 am

    Pinged again. :bigsmile:

  • Lewis_Family September 17, 2007, 8:16 am

    With this being such a popular site, I feel like I should get all done up before getting on 😉

  • Alison Moore Smith September 17, 2007, 9:15 am

    :bigsmile: I guess I’d better take off the pink, fuzzy slippers and put some shoes on!

    Silver, thanks for being our eyes out there. I don’t know how to find that stuff!

  • SilverRain September 17, 2007, 4:12 pm

    Honestly, I don’t watch many blogs. I’ve stumbled upon them for the most part. Dumb luck, I suppose.

    Ironically, I could really use that luck elsewhere.

  • jjwhit September 21, 2007, 9:23 am

    Just joining this blog…

    This sort of thing happens to adults at Church, too. Of course, the methods of torment are more “grown-up” and less mature, like gossip, moralizing, etc… but it still happens.

    Recently, I was taken aside by a woman in my ward for my most recent “chastisement”. She pulled me into an empty room to criticize me and ridicule me for misinterpreting a “joke” she made about me (in poor taste) in front of the entire Relief Society. Yes, that’s right… smear me with tactless jokes in public, and then belittle me for taking it seriously. She was so harsh and rude… I ran out of the building crying and shaking. Of course, the gossip is that I somehow wronged her… yet again.

    I spoke to the Bishop about it, expecting him to understand my feelings. It didn’t happen. I should be able to go to Church without being verbally assaulted, shouldn’t I? Isn’t there some code of conduct (reverence?) for adults at Church? Shouldn’t I be able to feel safe for at least those 3 hours every week? The Bishop suggested that I attend another ward if I don’t feel safe with this woman.

    I know that I’m not the only one who has felt tormented by this woman’s criticism and gossiping. I just don’t understand it… why won’t anyone say or do anything? Why won’t the Bishop talk to her about her behavior? Why doesn’t she know better? Will she ever learn differently if no one does anything?

    I really enjoyed this post, and I felt strengthened by it… knowing that I’m not alone.
    I’ve decided not to run away to another ward. This is my home, and I belong here, regardless. I’m not going to let her chase me away.

    I’ve also decided not to keep quiet about it. I don’t have to gossip about her, but I can let other people know what’s been going on. I’m finding that there are other people who are relieved by my speaking up, because they’ve been feeling the same way.

    And, oddly enough… this woman has stopped attending Relief Society. (What a blessing!)

  • SilverRain September 21, 2007, 4:08 pm

    I find it interesting that the Bishop encouraged you to go to another ward. Generally, that is strongly discouraged. It sounds like there’s a lot more going on here.

    That being said, you’ll find mean people in every ward. Trust me, I’ve been around the block a time or two. :tooth: Running away never solves anything. Part of the point of church is to learn how to get along with people, methinks.

  • kiar September 21, 2007, 6:51 pm

    I am about to pull a no-no: is your bishop a stupid, self-centered asinine moron? I cannot even fathom the fact that a man “in tune with the Lord” would even begin to suggest you go to another ward.
    YES you should feel safe in your ward, and at least for those three hours. What that woman did and continues to do is appaling and she should be strung up by her toes!

  • east-of-eden September 22, 2007, 9:48 am

    But you also need to realize, that a bishop is not there to solve everyone’s problems either. If you can work it out on your own, then do it. This is a case where the two people in question need to, and should work it out on their own, with say the help of the RS Pres. I would also say, try and work this out, outside of church time too, in a neutral setting.

    My suggestion is that you ask this sister over, or go to her, tell her how her comments made you feel, and that you did take them seriously. I would also tell her how the confrontation at church made you feel. If you can’t do it face to face, write a letter and send it to her. Pray for guidance and the spirit to know what to say. Also assure her that you want to work it out so that she feels comfortable and you feel comfortable at church. You might even find that having a frank discussion that this misunderstanding is not as great of a hurdle as you think. If she does not respond in kind, at least you know you tried, and that now it’s on her.

  • Lewis_Family September 22, 2007, 12:16 pm

    Seriuosly though, being the bigger person is such a pain sometimes :bigsmile:

  • kiar September 22, 2007, 12:54 pm

    why is it that we seem to cater to the people that are making the lives of others miserable. maybe she is just a rotten person, and will never change. it doesn’t make it any easier for those that are being belittled and hurt by her to go to church to say that we need to love and forgive. Yeah I get that we need to love and forgive, but come on, does jj really need to sit down with her to Talk it out? I mean coem on, why do the people getting attacked have to be the one to fix the problem? If others see it happening, it should be addressed and taken care of. it is so unfair to expect the person getting picked on to “be the bigger person” all the time!!!. When are we going to actually do something about the bullies that intimidate the people around us, instead of expecting them to just deal???????????????????
    (sorry, feeling icky and preggo, taking it out on everybody)

  • east-of-eden September 22, 2007, 3:31 pm

    maybe she is just a rotten person, and will never change.

    Everyone can change, and everyone deserves a chance to change. And we are commanded to forgive, all thru the scriptures, all thru the modern day messages from prophets and such. Also, being proactive, instead of reactive will always yield better results–always. The Lord, always gives each of us second, third, fourth, chances to change. What if God just said, “Well, she’s a rotten egg, it’s the telestial kingdom for her!” No, he doesn’t say that–he gives us a way to come back, to change, to REPENT, to take part of the Atonement, sometimes, most of the time it’s thru the actions of others that this is facilitated. This is the core part of the Plan of Salvation–part of why we are here on earth, to change to become more like HIM.

    it is so unfair to expect the person getting picked on to “be the bigger person” all the time!!!.

    Newsflash…life is unfair. All of us have been wronged in our lives, what if no one ever took the initiave to go and solve the problem? Or work things out? And yes it stinks to have to go and be the bigger person, but who wins in the end? Both people.

    When are we going to actually do something about the bullies that intimidate the people around us, instead of expecting them to just deal???????????????????

    I say talking to this sister, is doing something about it, and not just dealing with it. If JJ just “dealt with it” as you suggest, she would never talk to this sister, and allow the miscommunication of others intimidate her into never showing her face at church again. By talking to this sister and saying something like, “Hey what you said, upset me, I’m sorry I took it seriously, but I did. How can we come to a resolution about this issue?” This is dealing with the problem in a rational, loving and CHRISTLIKE way.

  • kiar September 22, 2007, 10:14 pm

    I get that we need to “turn the other cheek” but when a bunch of people are being harassed by the same person, and everyone sits by and does nothing, it is wrong. Not everyone is a rational human being, and will not respond to “Please stop being mean to me.” Life doesn’t work that way. This seems to have gone way past the “you upset me, how can we resolve this” When the Bishop is even afraid to say something to someone… well lets just figure something is really wrong. You can try to be as rational and loving and yes, Christlike, as you want. Some people will just never stop. And sorry to burst anyones bubble, but there are indeed people out there that do not change. I agree that we need to give them the chance, but even Christ got ticked off sometimes!

  • agardner September 23, 2007, 1:38 pm

    Before we come down too hard on this bishop – I just want to remind everyone that what we are hearing is only from one side. Not saying that the side we are giving isn’t accurate, but I’m sure there is much more to the story than what we have here. As I’ve heard before, “You have your story, I have mine, and reality is probably somewhere in between”.

    Carry on! 🙂

  • kiar September 23, 2007, 2:47 pm

    true! maybe the poor man didn’t really understand what was going on, or thought, oh they’ll work it out. (but telling her to go to another ward was a little weird!)

  • east-of-eden September 24, 2007, 7:52 am

    Well, Kiar, I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. In my expeirence, when I’ve frankly, confronted someone at church who I’ve had a problem with, the problem has resolved itself. You’ve also offered no solution as to what you would do in this situation…would you just sit back and take it? Would you and your friends run this lady out of the ward? What would you do, I”m curious.

    And Agardner, I totally agree with you — we’ve only heard one side. In my experience, bishops are very over worked fellows, who need to be given the benefit of the doubt most of the time. They are also human and need our forgivness because they make mistakes.

  • kiar September 24, 2007, 8:29 am

    east-of-eden: when I have had a problem with someone, i have gotten it resolved. But I watched a woman torment my MIL for several years, with all sorts of attempts by several people to resolve the issue, until finally the other woman moved to another state. For a little while, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Until the letters started to arrive. My MIL didn’t open them after the first one, since it was full of hate and meaness, that she began to even dread checking the mail. I would not “run this lady out of the ward”, that is totally extreme. But if she is not willing to change , I would try to ensure that she didn’t keep attacking the people around her.
    I don’t have a cut and dried solution, because every situation is different. I think what I am trying to say is that some people ARE just mean. And you can give them as many chances as you like. But it still boils down to the fact that they have free agency and if they want to be mean, they are going to stay that way. I think its great when people can view that world with rose colored glasses, and that the places they live they have lots of sweet wonderful people to associate with, and not a rotten one in the bunch. But here in reality land, it doens’t always work that way.

    I DO however agree with you on the overworked bishop thing. He may have just had a bad day. They are indeed human, and make mistakes. its ok to make mistakes. it’s what we do. But to suggest someone go to another ward before sitting down with both parties to find out what is actually going on is a little shortsighted.

  • mlinford September 25, 2007, 9:12 am

    And, oddly enough… this woman has stopped attending Relief Society. (What a blessing!)

    I have had an ugly situation like this, and it was so painful. Times like this test one to the limit. But I cant’ help but think if there is anyone who needs to be where the Spirit is, it’s this offending sister. To rejoice that she isn’t there doesn’t seem like it will make the situation better. I can understand relief, and don’t blame you for feeling this way, but shouldn’t we be concerned when someone leaves? Isn’t it possible that the reason she is being so nasty is because there is something wrong in her life and she needs validation and support and is seeking it in the wrong way by cutting others down? I just think that in all our analyzing these painfully difficult situations, we ought not forget that the offenders are children of God, too, and perhaps they need more than any of the victims do. NOT that I’m trying to justify that bad behavior, or that I’m being callous to the pain, because I know how awful it is. But in the end, I’m concerned that she stopped coming to Church. Maybe she has closed her heart and has made her choice. But maybe, just maybe, she needs someone to reach out in love to help her figure out how to be a positively contributing member of the ward. If she’s not coming to RS anymore, I hope someone is concerned about that and reaches out to her…even if it can’t be you (which I can understand). I’d mention this to someone, a leader, so they can reach out to her and figure out what is up.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 26, 2007, 1:35 am

    jjwhit, just wanted to welcome you here!

    Posted By: mlinfordshouldn’t we be concerned when someone leaves?

    Yes, we should but, frankly, I think sometimes it’s like putting someone in prison. We don’t WANT anyone to have to go to prison, but sometimes they do enough damage that we must consider protecting others. I have a big, giant beef about coddling youth who are destructive, while they torment and damage the youth who are trying to do the right thing. It happens all the time and we’ve been a few rounds on it on MM in the past many years.

  • kiar September 26, 2007, 9:10 am

    thank you Alison!

  • jennycherie September 26, 2007, 5:05 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smithit’s like putting someone in prison. We don’t WANT anyone to have to go to prison, but sometimes they do enough damage that we must consider protecting others.

    great analogy! I’ve often wondered how this applies to home and visiting teaching. I know everyone is supposed to be assigned a home and visiting teacher but what about the people who are verbally abusive and horrible to their home and visiting teachers? Yes, we need to show them Christ-like love, etc. . . but there are some I have felt terrible about assigning. Like, how could I ask anyone to visit someone who will likely yell at them and hang up the phone on them or slam the door in their face after disparaging them loudly for any possible offense that has ever been given by any member of the church?

  • east-of-eden September 27, 2007, 8:58 am

    how could I ask anyone to visit someone who will likely yell at them and hang up the phone on them or slam the door in their face after disparaging them loudly for any possible offense that has ever been given by any member of the church?

    When I was RSP, I would always assign these people to myself, or members of my presidency, because of the same concerns. It made a bit more work but at least me and another member of my presidency were the only ones getting yelled at.

  • jennycherie September 27, 2007, 12:40 pm

    Posted By: east-of-edenWhen I was RSP, I would always assign these people to myself, or members of my presidency, because of the same concerns. It made a bit more work but at least me and another member of my presidency were the only ones getting yelled at.

    but don’t you have your limits? I’m not sure I could convince myself to keep trying if the response was always awful. . . but then again, maybe that is just an attitude problem! I suppose if I told myself that I WILL likely get yelled at, then maybe I could consider it a huge victory to just have a civilized conversation! like, an unexpected bonus!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 27, 2007, 1:29 pm

    I have a question about this. Don’t these people ever–as they yell–tell you not to come? I know that you can’t drop them unless they remove their names from the church records, but can’t you write letters occasionally? If they yell at a letter, no one is the worse for wear. 🙂 In Boca I visited about ten people most of the time, but a couple of them were assigned as “letter routes.” One of those actually turned into a really wonderful contact, even though she had specifically requested NO VISITS.

  • jennycherie September 27, 2007, 1:37 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithDon’t these people ever–as they yell–tell you not to come?

    those are the easy ones! 😉 Seriously, though, there is one sister who DOES say she wants visiting teachers (and frequently complains loudly of never having home or visiting teachers who come to see her, even though she has had very faithful, patient home and visiting teachers) but treats them badly. Some months they get a warm reception and have a nice visit (although it is hard to get through a visit without hearing loads of hostility and criticism of ward members) and some months she is horribly rude and yells and is generally hateful. It seems easy enough to just allow the visits when she is polite and leave quickly when she is not but I know that I find it hard to move on and shake it off when I have an encounter with someone who is mean. I feel like I’m sending lambs to the slaughter saying, “good luck. hope it doesn’t hurt too bad this time.” My calling is as VT coordinator so I am not ultimately responsible for the assignments (thank goodness!) but I still *feel* responsible when I am handing a sister her new route 😉

  • facethemusic September 27, 2007, 1:58 pm

    The people who yell and are nasty aren’t necessarily those who don’t want VT’s.
    We have a woman in our ward who can be downright hostile. She’s a very bitter woman and complains about everything. But she wants VT’s and comes to church every now and then.
    I don’t even remember what happened, but somehow, she got all upset with me over something.
    I didn’t feel at ALL like I’d done anything wrong, and that she’s simply assumed my intentions, but nevertheless, she’d gotten upset with me so I wrote her a little note apologizing.
    Instead of accepting the apology, she called the RS president and chewed her out, about me, saying that I was awful and had the nerve to write her an apology note instead of calling her on the phone to do it.
    We had a sister who had MANY problems, migraines, addictions, mental issues, etc.
    She came to church every week, and spent half of her time there berating people.
    She played the piano for the choir, and half of the choir stopped coming because she’d yell at them. But no one ever said anything to her. Everyone knew she was that way, and everyone just sort of put up with it or tried to ignore it. But they didn’t want to be berated by her either, so they stopped coming to choir.
    My husband mentioned it to the Bishop, who was already well aware of this sister and her issues, but nothing ever seemed to come of it.
    She would call me every now and then, telling me she was having a mirgraine and couldn’t handle her daughter at the moment, and asking me to take her daughter for the day.
    I didn’t mind at all– honestly, I didn’t want her daughter in the house with her, she was downright abusive if you ask me.
    I don’t remember why, but there was an occasion when I actually couldn’t get her daughter– she got very angry and hung up on me. Then a few minutes later, she called back and cussed me out. A couple days later she called and threatened me physically.
    That was the last straw for my husband– he went in to the Bishops office the next day- pulling me along, told the Bishop what happened, and said very sternly, “If you don’t do something about it, I will.”
    The Bishop said “Bill, you’re coming on a little strong.”
    And my husband proceeded to remind him, that he (my husband) wasn’t just a priesthood holder, but a police officer, and that this sister was committing crimes with her addictions, was guilty of abuse with her daughter, was making physical threats and had been doing these things for years, with no real priesthood interaction. Then he said, “Yes, part of your job as a Bishop is being a Shepherd, and love people unconditionally and to bring them to the fold. Helping Sis. _______ to turn her life around is a part of that. But a Shepherd’s job is also to protect your flock. And if you won’t fulfill that part of your calling, then I will.”
    On the one hand I was glad that my hubby had stood up for me like that, but on the other hand I was a little embarrased that he’d spoken so forcefully to the Bishop.

  • kiar September 27, 2007, 2:21 pm

    you should never be embarassed that your husband stood up for you. Bravo for him!!! It was completly ridiculous that the woman was allowed to treat people the way she did for so long. In our society, we spend way too much time making excuses or ignoring rude and dangerous behaviour of people that could potentially harm us. (I know I am going to get blasted for this, already have) People need to take responsibility for thier actions, and yes, even be punished (however that might come about) for those actions, especially when they are hurting our loved ones.
    Yes Bishops are overworked and ocerwhelmed. But that should never be an excuse for someone in the ward verbally abusing and intimidating other members. We are too afraid that if something is done, someone might “be offended and fall away from the church” The questions I pose to that is this: at what cost are we letting those people stay? Can we let our children see this and think it acceptable, or our converts be chased away by Bro or Sis So-and-So, because they have always been that way and we don’t want to offend them?

  • east-of-eden September 27, 2007, 2:29 pm

    WOW! What a story! I think your husband did the right thing Tracy. I think I would have done the same thing, and I know my husband would have done the same thing as well.

    As for me when I was RSP, with the “problem children” as I called them– Yes, a person can only take so much and I pondered that in prayer A LOT over these sisters! I finally came to the conclusion, and I had this confirmed by the spirit, that I had done my job with a certian sister, and I was no longer accountable for her. I was walking out of her house after a very hostile visit and fretting over it still and the prompting just came to me. It was a shock and a relief all at the same time. I’m not saying that this is the solution in all cases, but for me it was the answer. And I don’t think there is a blanket answer for every situation. Every person needs to be dealh with indivdually.

    Generally, I will say, that I think people are afraid to comment/confront to people if they are behaving badly in the ward, for fear of getting yelled at or they fear they will be the reason that person leaves the chruch. I’ve never been afraid to go and resolve my concerns or issues with people in the ward, like I suggested up-thread. But I know there are people who are not as brave (or a looney, take your pick) as I am in that regard. I think that’s the time to pull in the RSP or the bishop–after we’ve tried on our own. I also think that if a person leaves, after all that the ward can do, then let them go. Elder Bednar’s talk on choosing to be offended is a very powerful talk that I think we all can learn from.

  • SilverRain September 27, 2007, 4:20 pm

    Hm. I wonder. Though I see the point of not wanting abusive people around you, the conclusion to let them go or “do something about it” (with the connotation that “something” means “something forceful”) doesn’t seem to mesh with my understanding of Christ’s methods.

  • kiar September 27, 2007, 4:44 pm

    it by no means has to be forceful. But people in positions of authority need to either speak to them or find a way to make things better. Christ said to turn the other cheek… but eventually you run out of cheeks.

  • facethemusic September 27, 2007, 6:50 pm

    you should never be embarassed that your husband stood up for you

    I guess I didn’t say that very well– I was very glad that he stood up for me. I would hope that ANY husband would stand up for his wife.
    The part that was a little embarassing is that he really WAS speaking very sternly– almost like a parent correcting his child, and since it was to the Bishop I was kind of like– “Yikes– can you talk to a Bishop that way?” I would have tried to say it in a more “this really has me concerned and I’d appreciate your help” kind of way. Of course, that’s how I am, and my husband doesn’t put up with things the way I do. And let me tell ya– the guy gets stuff DONE the way HE handles it– you know? When Bill talks- people listen. He might have to handcuff you to the chair to make it happen, but you’ll listen. :rolling:
    And it was only after my husband sort of lectured the Bishop that anything happened with this sister.
    What’s kind of funny, is that shortly after, that Bishop moved and we had 2 other Bishops after him. Both of them would call my husband every now and then– wanting “counsel” on how to handle different situations with ward members, especially if it involved anything to do with the law, abuse, crime, drugs/alcohol, etc.
    Then a couple months ago we got another Bishop, and he called my husband as one of the counselors. When one of the previous Bishop’s heard the news announced in his ward, he called my husband to congradulate him on his new calling, and said “Well, it’s about time. You’ve been a Bishop’s counselor for years now, and now you finally have the mantle to go with it.”

    the conclusion to let them go or “do something about it” (with the connotation that “something” means “something forceful”) doesn’t seem to mesh with my understanding of Christ’s methods.

    He didn’t mean he was going to go and beat her with a club, Silver– he meant that as a police officer, he could arrest her. And for more than one offense. He was saying, “look–you either handle it as her Bishop, or I’ll handle it with the law.”
    This sister really needed to be reported to the police and family services. But the Bishop had been holding off, not wanting to get the law involved, figuring that he could just keep counseling with her and she’d repent and get help. But YEARS had gone by, and after we moved into the ward, we slowly began to realize the problem, and heard about things from ward members, her own brother, her ex-husband and her kids. But the Bishop was never acting on anything when it came to the legal side of things with this sister. So my husband had enough- and now he had proof, too. (When she threatened me physcially, it was recorded on our answering machine)

  • kiar September 27, 2007, 8:19 pm

    WOW! awesome for you guys! I just love cops! (my husband will be one in 7 months) Especially ones that hold the priesthood. Our old ward now has a Sheriff as its Bishop, and he has been in many situations were he was called on to deal with “member issues” before he was called as Bishop. He was always very fair and private, so I really look up to those men who have the law and the Lord on their side!

  • jennycherie September 27, 2007, 9:23 pm

    Posted By: facethemusichen Bill talks- people listen. He might have to handcuff you to the chair to make it happen, but you’ll listen.

    what a great (and accurate) description 😉

  • mlinford September 28, 2007, 7:38 pm

    My thoughts on the prison analogy…. I understand drawing boundaries, but it sounds to me like she just left without anyone acknowledging that she left, but rather rejoicing in it. Has anyone talked to her about her inappropriate behavior? Prison is a deliberate consequence given after known infractions of a law. Letting someone leave on their own, unrecognized by the Church, seems like a different thing to me entirely. If the Church should do something, it should be clear and associated with a law, not just letting someone slip through the cracks because no one likes to deal with them.

    It might be different if, after counseling with a bishop and warnings and such, if there truly was destruction going on, something maybe would be done (although I don’t know what). I just can’t really think of anything in our doctrine that justifies letting someone walk out of church because of some altercations (awful as they may have been) and not having someone go after and at least try to reach out, to help the person. I just suspect that someone engaging in that kind of destructive behavior NEEDS the gospel and needs some help.

  • facethemusic September 28, 2007, 10:32 pm

    Michelle, I’m sure the sister you’re talking about (this is the one that jjwhit, mentioned, correct?) still has home and visiting teachers.
    I mentioned some time ago in a different thread, the young woman who attacked me at church. (You guys must think I live a horrid place– it’s actually a great ward– but it encompasses quite a bit of the inner city- so we’ve inherited some of the problems that are typical in that part town) She threw a fit just because I asked her to please not talk during the prayer. She immediately jumped down my throat, “don’t you #&$*@%^ tell me what to do $*&#%!”
    She was cussing up a storm, putting on her thug routine, and when I told her to come out into the hall with me so we could talk (mostly, I just wanted to get her away from the other girls so they wouldn’t have to hear her mouth) she threw me up against the wall. This was all right in front of the youth and other leaders.
    She’d threatened violence before, against other leaders and girls, but this was the first time she acted on it. And it wasn’t the first time she’d cussed anyone out either.
    The Bishop (the one previous to our current one) had me write up a report, got written reports from the other leaders who saw it all, got her side of the story as well, and ended up telling her that she wasn’t welcome back until she could come and not be a threat to the members. This was a 15 year old girl. She hasn’t been back since and that was what– 4 or 5 years ago?
    The ward has intermittent contact with her family– but they’ve all been inactive, long before her fit during YW. The only reason she was even coming was because her mother MADE her come (the YW president would pick her up) because she wanted her out of the house.
    She had a horrible home life, lives in a horrible neighborhood– she’s just a product of her home life and environment. Very sad situation– and sure, as was said about the other sister, she NEEDS the gospel, it’s probably one of the only things that could ever save her from her own self-destruction. On the other hand, you can’t sacrfice the flock in an attempt to save the one.
    We couldn’t allow our other youth to continue to be harassed and threatened by this girl. My kids weren’t old enough at the time, but if they had been, there’s no WAY I would have allowed my children to go to Mutual activities as long as she was there. I would have sent them to another ward’s program. And other leaders had the exact same feelings.

  • kiar September 29, 2007, 9:47 am

    everyone NEEDS the Gospel… but when it comes down to the personal safety of ourselves and those we are responsible for at church (YW, YM, Primary) sometimes a line needs to be drawn, and consequences exacted.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 29, 2007, 11:01 am

    Wanted to report something. This week the mother of “Bobette” (from the original article, the one who bullied my daughter), just read th article a few days ago. She emailed me about it. Again, she apologized. I don’t believe she read through all the discussion, but, as I told her, the point of the article was the miracle that occurred. I think it was necessary to show the pain caused to me, to my daughter, to everyone who experiences this.

    But this story had a happy ending BECAUSE DaNae was willing to do something uncomfortable and possibly problematic (and was even willing to “drive away” the bully by clearly defining a standard) AND because her parents responded so perfectly.

    Anyway, now that the subject was between us again, I asked her what she did, because I’ve been asked that so many times. She told me and I will post her response if/when I get her explicit permission. I hope she gives it because I think we can all learn from it.

    Tracy, unless I’d seen similar situations myself, I don’t think I would believe you.

    Jessica’s first year at YW Camp (when she was 12), included a whole bunch of girls who are much as you describe. Their families weren’t members, though, the girls joined because the missionaries were cute and the parents were THRILLED to have someone take their kids all day Sunday, and a couple of times during the week. They never drove them, never contributed. The girls didn’t pay for their camp fees and didn’t participate in the fundraisers.

    Then the stake had the audacity to mix up the ward and put kids in rooms without anyone familiar.

    When they got to camp, they broke every rule. They stole most of the valuable stuff my daughter had (like her flashlight and camp supplies), they stole from others too. They cursed constantly, roamed about, never attending the activities. (The camp that year was in kind of a beach resort–camping in South Florida in the summer is NO fun.) They threatened people and got in numerous physical brawls. They stood nose to nose with three priesthood leaders, threatening and using every word in the book.

    And not a single girl was sent home. The tyrannized the entire camp. And not a single stake leader, male or female, would stand up to them. One of my friends, the ward YW president, slept with her glasses on and a mag flashlight in her hands on her chest, because she was scared to death.

    When my daughter got home, I was livid. No one had the guts to defend the girls because, “We don’t want to drive them away from the church.”

    Absolute hogwash. The drove DOZENS of girls away–the ones who followed the rules and wanted to have a spiritual experience.

    This excuse makes me so angry because people purport to think that driving people away by requiring no standard is somehow acceptable, while “driving people away” be HAVING a standard isn’t.

    I told the leaders that my girls would never attend camp in that stake again. Of course, the next winter they called me to be the wad camp director. I have never turned down a calling, but I told them I would ONLY accept if our ward had it’s OWN camp, away from the stake. So, of course, they called me to be assistant stake camp director. I told them I would accept and do all the planning, but that I would not attend the actual camp, nor would my daughter.

    Then they sat down at the negotiation table.

    They had already heard from my and myriad disgusted parents. But it hadn’t changed anything. So, I said I would accept AND go with a number of conditions. I don’t remember them all, but some were:

    Camp as wards with ample leaders in each cabin who KNEW the girls
    Every minute would be scheduled with no down time
    No one could go UNLESS every child and every parent (every one, no exception) attended a meeting outlining expectations, standards, and conduct. Each child and parent had to sign a paper indicating that they understood what was expected AND every parent had to agree to pay for transporting the child home if they broke the rules. (And, of course, the stake had to agree that I could actually send girls home. Period.)

    They agreed. And the rules were very specific and fairly strict (including items they could bring, participation, absolute modesty, treatment of others, etc.)

    The camp that year was six hours away (NOT my choice), in a hot, humid, tick-filled tent camp. But we did not have ONE girl sent home (and I would have done it in a second), there was no bullying, and no cursing or threatening. The worst problems we had were sending a handful of girls back to their tents to put on longer shorts and one elementary-style spat between two girls who thought he other “dissed” them.

    I guess I really feel that a threatening, chaotic, mean environment is a really HARD place to feel the Spirit and that having standards (even very firm ones when necessary) creates an environment where it’s POSSIBLE to do the good things.

    One of the “mean girls” (not the worst in the stake, but the worst in my ward), who had tormented my daughter the first year, came to think of me as a confidante. She would ask me all sorts of questions about how to handle things correctly in her life. She softened up quite a bit, at least that week, in an environment where she simply wasn’t free to do what she usually did.

    Gotta go make breakfast. Just wanted to touch base.

  • mlinford September 29, 2007, 9:17 pm

    This excuse makes me so angry because people purport to think that driving people away by requiring no standard is somehow acceptable, while “driving people away” be HAVING a standard isn’t.

    I just hope to make clear that by my comments about a different situation that I would be one who would want to sit by and let things happen like this kind of safety-threatening behavior. There are lines that need to be drawn, especially with these kinds of egregious examples.

    I am shocked, though. I am grateful to say I’ve never experienced that kind of threat. Wow.

  • SilverRain September 30, 2007, 7:35 am

    Perhaps D&C 121 is applicable in such circumstances.

  • jennycherie September 30, 2007, 8:04 am


    how do you mean? is there a specific verse you are referring to?

  • SilverRain September 30, 2007, 4:45 pm

    The whole thing. Especially when you remember that as members, there is a parallel between our responsibilities and those of the priesthood.

  • facethemusic July 22, 2007, 8:31 pm

    I started typing my feelings about this, different ways to stem off bullying, then remembered as I was typing out a few experiences, that we actually discussed this topic 3 or 4 years ago on the old site. So rather than typing a whole new response, I went to the old site to see if I could find it, and I did.

    So the rest of this, is my response to the earlier article.

    My father was in the army, so we moved every three years. Every three years I was in a new neighborhood and a new school. One of my father’s stations was for a measly 9 months! But, I happened to have had a wonderful experience. Though, like every child, I was poked fun at every now and then, I was never the victim of other children’s continual taunting and teasing, and neither were any of my three brothers. But I did often witness it and noticed that one of three things happened when a “new kid” joined the class. He/she either became a target for bullying, the most popular kid in the class, or just blended in. It seemed to me that almost invariably, it was up to the kid. I’m sure that for the most part, it was a completely subconscious thing, influenced mostly by the child’s personality how extroverted or introverted they were, how they first responded to the other children, etc. I saw some children come into class for the first time, obviously feeling overwhelmed and nervous, head and shoulders slumped. But then there were the kids who came in full of energy and smiling. I remember distinctly, in Mrs. Yoh’s fifth grade class, when a kid named Joey came in, halfway through the year. Mrs. Yoh introduced him, he gave a large wave over head, smiled and said “Hey ya’ll !” and headed toward a seat Mrs. Yoh had pointed out to him. A boy in the class said something about Joey’s accent and kind of sneered when referring to him as the “new kid.” Joey just smiled and said, “Hey, I’m new, I’m improved, and I’m on sale, three for a dollar!” What in the world that meant, I had no idea, but I laughed and so did everyone else. And Joey was popular from that moment on.

    Jennifer, a friend from high school was also an “army brat” who moved every three years, was covered in freckles and had frizzy red hair that was more orange than red. Unfortunately, that made her a natural target. But she told me that every time she was introduced into a new class, she immediately commented on her physical appearance herself, before any of the other kids did. She’d stand up, introduce herself and say, “I’m sure you’re all insanely jealous of my orange hair and freckles.” Then she’d start pulling her hair, and picking at her face and say “I’ve never been fond of them myself, but they’re stuck, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” She was well-liked too.

    I did have the one experience where a boy threatened to beat me up after class. This was in the fourth grade. Francisco, a very large, very overweight boy in the class, who was a “blender” like me, overheard the boy threaten me and said, “Don’t worry, if he tries anything I’ll sit on him.” I imagine that he probably poked fun at himself like that often, and that’s likely what helped him to be liked and accepted, rather than make him the target of teasing and bullying that children who are overweight often become. I’m sure he really was self-conscious about his weight, and poking fun at himself was just a way for him to cope in social arenas. I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know if a psychologist would say that they way Jennifer or Francisco poked fun at themselves was “healthy” or not. But it sure did seem to protect them from what would likely have been a lifetime of teasing and bullying with certain kids.

    Every now and then I’d hear a comment about the rather large gap between my two front teeth. (Military dentists don’t give you braces for cosmetic reasons.) Strangely enough, I didn’t hear those kind of comments until high school. But I’d learned from other kids’ examples, how to handle it. So I’d say, “Yeah, this gap between my teeth is actually a musical instrument. If I stick out my teeth and hold them up to the wind at just the right angle, you can hear a lovely whistling noise similar to that of the panflute.” I’d actually heard that somewhere, but I can’t remember where. I think it may have been a comedian on TV.

    I guess the key is, if our children aren’t naturally inclined to respond in the manner that Joey or Jennifer did, to find a way to teach our children to respond to bullying and teasing, in such a way that it squelches the teasing. I would assume that Jennifer did get teased about her hair and freckles at some point, and that the teasing was probably the catalyst that influenced her to start introducing herself the way she did. But it worked. It seems that the biggest indicator of how likely a child is to be a perpetual target, isn’t necessarily if they are new, if they have freckles, red hair, wear glasses, are overweight, have an accent or any other silly thing that kids decide is worthy of teasing but how the child responds to the comments.

    I think the kids who tease and bully do it for power. They get off on seeing how they can control someone else. They can make them cry. They can make them afraid. They relish in the dominance. And when they see that a tease or a poke makes a child cower, they continue to tease and poke, and virtually feed on that child’s fear and pain. It’s really very sick and twisted if you think about it.

    But if a child is able to demonstrate from the beginning that they aren’t threatened, that a negative comment will only bring back a joke and a smile, then the bully has lost his power, and sees that he can’t get the dominion he’s seeking for with that child. In Jennifer’s case, she essentially made a preemptive strike, by being the first to make a comment about her hair and freckles, which said, in a humorous way, “I recognize that I’m a likely target. But, I won’t be teased. You won’t make a victim out of me.”

    I’m sitting here imagining comebacks to negative comments:

    A large nose: “Yeah it’s big, so be careful around me. I can smell B.O. from a mile away.”

    Short stature: “Yes, I’m short. But imagine the hundreds of dollars in loose change I’ve found under everyone else’s’ sofas.”

    I haven’t had to deal with my children being bullied or teased yet. My husband and I are quite talkative, extroverted people, even in a room full of strangers. My children, having grown up in that kind of environment, seem to have “inherited” that from us. So far so good. I hope that when my kids have to confront teasing and bullying that they’ll have the skills to respond in a way that “thwarts the enemy” so to speak, in a socially acceptable way. I think that between that ability, and applying the scriptural teaching to ” ?pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” that for the most part, children can learn to overcome this inevitable part of childhood.

  • Tammy September 2, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, we are going through this with our 2 older boys who are Deacons, we have been in a new ward for 4 months and are trying to figure out the best way to resolve the issue. Fortunately, its not just our 2 boys but one other boy from another family that are being bullied at church, the leaders don’t seem to understand what is really occurring or they don’t want to get involved. We have spoken with the leaders in the past but nothing really has changed. We are working out a plan now on how to approach the leaders, the parents of the main bully as well as the bishopric if necessary. My boys have gotten to the point where they do not want to attend mutual or Sunday school for that matter. Most people don’t realize that this happens more often than not at church, it may look like teasing or playing or goofing around but you have to be careful and draw the line when it becomes to much, especially if you are a leader or teacher of children. I am in Primary and watch for these types of issues so I can put a stop to it immediately. My husband has been trained in school bullying and has a lot of knowledge concerning that, we just never thought we would have to deal with it at church.
    Tammy recently posted…E-mealsMy Profile

  • Richard Alger March 17, 2013, 6:29 am

    What an incredible story! This brings so much insight into your life. You are made of stuff tougher than steel.

    Wow, I am so sorry you had to live through this and your daughter. I think I am one who might brush things off to avoid a conflict. This story clearly shows that boldly confronting wrongs is the best way to approach many wrongs.
    Richard Alger recently posted…Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus ChristMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 17, 2013, 11:33 am

    Tammy (very belatedly) and Richard, thanks for your comments. It’s amazing and very sad that this kind of behavior occurs at church of all places. It’s so easy for bullying to turn a child (or adult!) against the institution where the bullying takes place.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 75: Weapons of Mass ProductionMy Profile

  • Mary June 27, 2013, 9:18 am

    Hi Allison… Thank you for sharing your story… My daughter a 9 year old girl has been bullied at school and church by the daughter of the primary president since they are preeschoolers until now…one year and a half ago she was bullyied by this girl and her friends at school in the classroom and the playground… I researched about bullying and found out there were 3 things I could do: ask the principal to investigate… ask the school to show me the antibullying policy and volunteer at school in the classroom and playground… thought I found opposition from the school in the beginning, because the kids involved in the bullying incidents were from the pto… we prevailed…I went above the principal… and I received an apology from the principal , an antibullying policy was written, the school focus on getting the school antybulling conferences aimed to educate all the school community, and I got to volunteer at the school for 60 hours during the school year….Never again my daughter was bullyied at school… there were some intent to do so from a kid whose mom was a member of the pto and friends with the others pto moms… but talking to the teacherhelped and also my daughter learned to say stop… At church the situation is different… My daughter , a very sweet girl is being shun by the same girl and her ctr friends at church for about a year…I have talked to the mother of this girl…who is also the primary president and her attitude is like this is not a big deal…last year she apologized that her child was hurting my child but nothing was done…she said she was going to use puppets to teach her child… then she said that my daughters not being compliant in the primary was the culprit… I asked my daughter to raise her hand before talking, sit still , listen, answer when is her turn… etc and she is being a great kid in the primary…now this mom is saying that Her daughter is afraid of me and does not know how to deal with it… she also is denying that any bullying has ever happened on the basis her daughter told her that she has never done anything….After talking to the bishop and one of the counselors they are denying that there is any bullying happening, and I was told you are supposed to let your kid just go through this… I was told my child is a hurt child making up all of this even though I have told them I have seen this happening…dealing with bullying within the church is harder than in any other setting…. I you have some advise please contact me … you might know too.. that my daughter might be perceived different because.. our family is going through up and downs , and My daughter is half white half southamerican.

  • Mary June 27, 2013, 10:28 am

    “I will say again, what I’ve said before, we have to address the subject of bullying at church right away, everytime, all the time, if it is happening! ”


  • Mary June 27, 2013, 10:53 am

    Tammy ….thank you for your post… I have educated myself on dealing with bullying… the great question is how can this knowledge be accepted and used at church… ? I was told by the bishophric they don’t use that at church… they only use the church manuals… I would like to know how the meeting with the bishopric went for you guys… and if you have any advice….

    Alliso…. Thank you so much for starting this topic in this blog… you are brave… and you are giving hope and support to many other that has had similar experiences…. so sorry you have been critized … but know that you are appreciated too.

    I have noticed , as well as you have noticed, that bullies may come from every background , most often from long time members of the church families in advantageous situations…

  • Diane Jacob January 3, 2014, 2:21 pm

    Your post bought up a myriad of emotions not only because I know you, and your kids and the people involved but also because I was a loner going up. Not really teased or bullied per se but not included either. To make matters worse my dad in all his old south style refused to send me to one of 2 high schools in the ward boundary. In 1967 the “black” high school was closed down and all those kids would be bused to my new high school. Dad would not have that so, I was sent to a college prep private girl’s day school in the town nearby, Castilleja School for Girls. While I had a amazing education and breezed through college, I struggled every week at mutual and Sunday school trying to find my place, which clearly didn’t exist. The topics of conversation were all about the dance team, cheerleading and football games. What did I know about those things? not much but I was versed in Shakespeare, could pour tea and learned social etiquette. We had stake dances once a month and I went, but only if I had invited a girl from my ward to sleep over the night after it was over. That way I knew at least someone would talk to me. There were 16 girls my age in my ward, some were left out and as a result never attended church again. I lasted because my mom always told me, “the best friends you will make in this life, will be the ones after you are married”. I held onto to that for 4 years. And of course, she was right.
    My own children experienced bullying growing up. My daughter’s middle name is Annice, but one boy called her “anus” every week. When I learned about it I was so mad. So one day I saw him coming down the hallway at church. A tall popular 15 year old boy named Matt didn’t know what hit him when I grabbed him by the collar, threw him against the wall, got 3 inches from his face and said in a quiet but firm threatening voice, “If you ever call my daughter anus again, I’ll sit down in front of your parents and tell them all about it, then I’ll go to the bishop and tell him you are not worthy to help in your priesthood duties. Is that clear?” Little did I know his parents witnessed the whole thing. He smiled said yes and he was on his way. That was probably not the best way to have handled the situation but he never called her anus again.
    My son was born with crossed eyes and despite 3 surgeries, wore glasses from the time he was 6 months old. ( I still have those tiny glasses) He was teased a lot. My husband said he needed to stand up to the kid, (the bishop’s son btw). So the next time the kid made him cry my son punched him in the face. Never teased him again. They later became friends. Moving from Colorado to Utah my son,then 12, wanted to attend scout camp with the kids in the new ward… wouldn’t you know woke up the first morning at camp to thirteen 12 year old boys spitting on his face.
    Heavenly Father put us here to deal with the good, the unpleasant, and the bad. Some days bad wins and some days good does. Often days are just freaking unpleasant. We all learn from them and carry burdens that only Christ can understand as He was the only perfect One and carries all of our faults and sins.
    We all want our kids to be loved and accepted.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Dear Diane, thank you for sharing. All these years and I had no idea what YOUR stories were. (Diane and I lived in the same ward in Eagle Mountain and I just saw her again just last week at the wedding reception of the daughter in the story.)

    What I wouldn’t have given to have seen you pin Matt to the wall. We spend so much time coddling bullies and piddling around the issue, that they almost NEVER get the message that the behavior is intolerable. (Because, let’s be honest. It’s not. We tolerate it to the ends of the earth.) Did his parents say anything?

    Anyone who reads here knows I’m no fan of scouts and scout camp is just one reason. My deacon son has taken a bit of guff at camp and didn’t want to go back. No way was I going to force him to go. Told the scout master in our ward the three boys who were bothering him. Told the parents of the one that was most prominent. Told my son they all knew and were watching out for it. I suggested he give scout campouts ONE more try and that if ANYTHING happened, we’d never bring it up again.

    Thanks to this scout master (and probably the parents) so far things have been good the past few months. And, to be clear, this ward has been the most bully-free ward I’ve EVER lived in. Sweet spot.
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  • Bruce January 19, 2014, 10:18 am

    My two older children started showing a strong reluctance to attend week day activities. Hey often came home complaining that a certain leader was singling them out and belittling them during the activities. In the beginning I passed it off as their imagination or on the slightly odd personality of the leader involved. But when it occurred week after week I started to take it more seriously. I finally confronted the brother involved. He was shocked. He expressed his deep respect for our family and the kids and was mortified that he had done this and the kids had suffered at his hands. He didn’t intend to offend although he had. Bullying can occur even from the leaders, even by mistake.
    His behavior toward the kids changed immediately after our discussion.

  • Jana March 1, 2014, 6:41 pm

    Thank you for this post! I was never treated poorly at church, but my older brother was. It was bad enough that he started to question the gospel. He asked my dad, “If the church is true, why do my non-member friends treat me so much better than the kids at church?” It is so important for people, especially leaders and parents to be very aware of how the children at church interact with each other since poor behavior can not only hurt feelings of self worth, but also destroy testimonies.

    Thanks again for sharing this.
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  • kath March 3, 2014, 8:24 am

    its wonderful that you had such a great relationship with your daughter. I’m still learning about improprieties and it has been 15 years. I think about the suppression of growth that occurred and I also think about the compassion that has developed. I cannot change the past, but I wish I had known things were so difficult. It affected the entire family.

  • Lorelei Kawchuk March 3, 2014, 10:29 am

    As a mother, I saw both my son & daughter experience stuff like bullying & cliques in our church ward! In my son’s case, there were 3 brothers (1 the same age as him & the other 2 older) who used to both make fun of him & chase him down the halls at church, threatening to “beat the crap” (in their words, as I heard them say it more than once myself)! My son decided that he didn’t want to go to church because of it, & it was a big struggle for me to get him there! Eventually, I’d had enough & approached the mother, whose response was just kind of like “boys will be boys” &, to the best of my knowledge, neither she nor her husband even talked with their boys about it because it continued! Now, my son has been away from the church for over 10 years & gets upset with me if I try asking him to come back, often reminding me of what he went through at the church all those years ago! My daughter’s problem seemed to start out with the fact that she started school a year later than most other children her same age! When it came time for most of the others to start high school & seminary, we were told that she couldn’t because she was a grade behind! From then on, she was made fun of, called stupid & all kinds of things, without anyone knowing why she was a grade behind the other kids of her own age! At first, her experience in Young Women’s had started out okay, but when it came to the point of high school & seminary for the rest of the kids, that’s when the problems started! At about that same time, there was a change in our ward Young Women’s Presidency, & even the new Presidency seemed to pick up on things & say things about her not being smart enough to be in high school & seminary at the same time as the others! That’s when she started losing interest in the church & the Young Women’s program, refusing to work on her Young Women’s value projects & things — something that she had more than willingly done up until that time! Then, there were a few times when she wore dress pants & a nice blouse to church, rather than a dress (which was better than the jeans & t-shirts, or lowcut dresses with short hemlines, that I see some people in our ward wearing these days, or at least I think so), & was chastised by the then bishop for not dressing appropriately! She never ever went to girls camp because she thought, if she was made to feel the way she did at church, what would happen if she was away & without me to try helping her! She’s now been inactive from the church for a number of years, too! As a parent, I wish & pray that both of my children would come back to the church, but they both remember & remind me of treatment that they’d received while there! I do wish that all parents & church leaders everywhere would realize how fragile some people are & how the treatment of some can influence what may happen in regards to their church activity/inactivity before it’s too late!!! Sorry, but I know what each of my own children went through & where they are now, which is not at church, because of the way that they were made to feel!!! I can’t help but think that there are probably others in this vast worldwide church……. P.S. JUST AN AFTER NOTE TO THIS… I do know that the church is true, even though the people in it are yet mortal & Not perfect like unto our Heavenly Father!!! I’m really hoping that those who make fun of, bully & “whatever else” to others just don’t realize how their words & actions can affect others of our Heavenly Father’s children…..

  • Marni March 3, 2014, 11:55 am

    As a Webelos leader, I had a parent tell me she was leery about her son coming because of past experience with some of the boys. I reassured her that I would keep a careful eye on things. The first week he came, some of the boys changed seats so they wouldn’t have to sit by him, and mockingly said, “Why does he have to be here?” He commented back (don’t remember what he said), but I immediately told them very firmly that if everyone isn’t welcome, no one is welcome, and scouts would stop. I never had another problem.

    I don’t know if it’s always that simple. I had to confront my son’s scout leader (I was also scout committee chair at the time and worked closely with them) after my son came out in tears one night. The boy leader was allowed to use his leadership position to haze, and this mom wasn’t having it. At least that part stopped after that, but another mom had to go to the boy’s parents over a different issue.

    Ultimately, your child needs you to be on their team. If one of my kids was involved in bullying, I would most definitely want to know.
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  • Mike Clark March 3, 2014, 6:18 pm

    I just read your post and I can certainly relate! When I was growing up, my family was not so well to do, I had red hair (we gingers need to stick together!) but I was male and I think redhead boys got it worse than girls. I got teased a lot, but when I was a teenager, someone at school made up a joke about me that made fun of my family, my hair, and my complexion (I had an acne problem to top it off). I heard it non-stop for almost 2 years during my 8th & 9th grade year. I didn’t even get solace at church because the kids my age made fun of me there too.

    I remember going to church and no one would hardly even look at me, let alone talk to me, but I heard the whispers and giggles behind my back. I’d go to priesthood and would always be the first person in the room to sit down. The last two seats filled were the ones next to me. I’d move around to different parts of the room from week to week, but ALWAYS the last two seats taken (if they were) were next to me. One week, one kid even got into an argument with someone else to trade seats so he wouldn’t have to sit next to me.

    I don’t know what the YM leaders were about either. They didn’t say a word about it, at least not that I heard. And it never stopped, so I doubt they said anything. They just seemed content to be buddies with the other guys.

    I remember feeling so bitter about the church. I remember thinking if those guys were followers of the church and could treat me like that, then why would I want to have anything to do with the church? That wasn’t following the Savior. And if they acted like that at church, why should I go? It almost cost me my testimony.

    I am fortunate that I didn’t let that make me pay the price. I had a testimony outside of my youth experiences and I did end up going on a mission. Now I’ve been a YM leader for almost 18 years. I watch like a hawk for that kind of treatment in our groups, but (thank the good Lord) I haven’t seen it. Maybe it’s because I don’t tolerate it, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I haven’t seen it as bad as I had it. My heart breaks for any kid that does have to go through that. I’m so glad your daughter found a resolution as well and I don’t blame you for giving your bishop the riot act.

    Maybe my lesson was to realize the Gospel is more than just the way a bunch of dumb kids treat each other. I’m glad I learned that, but I wish it didn’t have to be. When I hear of such things, particularly in the church, it makes my heart ache – We know better!

  • Laura March 3, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. My 8 year old has been a victim of bullying At church as well. After her 5th time at Activity Days she was found by a leader crying I the mother’s lounge, where she had evidently been for the majority of the previous 5 meetings. My beautiful little girl who had just been baptized and had a glowing testimony of the gospel, no longer wanted to go to church. This leader has been particularly helpful since her daughter went through similar situations. It has been particularly difficult because the two ring leaders are the RS President’s daughter and the 1st Counselor of the Bishopric’s daughter. When I have tried to address the issues I get told that I must be misinterpreting the situation because they are good girls that would never do that. Your article has helped me know more of what I need to do as I strive to stand up for my daughter. Thank you.

  • Amber March 3, 2014, 8:51 pm

    I appreciate your comments and perspective. Unfortunately, I think the only reason your daughter’s bully was caught and dealt with is because it got so blatant and obvious, otherwise, she’d probably still be at it. People don’t want to believe that it can be that bad for some at church, and they refuse to see or acknowledge the signs until it is too late. Adults are the worst bullies because they exclude and are passive aggressive and even do it under the guise of being helpful, it is never obvious and they may not even realize they are doing it. The ones being bullied in that way start to think there is something wrong with them or get depressed or just shut down, they sometimes can’t even recognize the bad behavior or bullying for what it is to even be able to shut it down. It is the worst feeling ever to not be accepted and welcomed at church. Instead we are told how we need to forgive and not be offended. I think it’s past time to call out the offenders and not accept this behavior, it doesn’t matter if it is coming from a leader, a kid, an adult, anybody. Bad behavior is bad behavior and we need to recognize that it happens and confront it and not tolerate it. It really affects people and especially these young impressionable kids are so at risk for having issues throughout their lives because of it, but it can affect adults also. There are varying levels of bullying and being mean and judgmental, and it can and does happen at church and it can happen to anyone. I actually blogged recently about my own experience with this, it’s a bit different but runs along the same lines. Thank you for sharing.
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  • Amber March 3, 2014, 9:46 pm

    I just wanted to comment about what to do about bullying at church after reading some of the advice here, basically, if you feel like there is a problem or your child doesn’t want to go to church anymore, and you cannot find a resolution, meaning that the leaders/parents/bullies won’t believe you or listen to you or do anything about it or are just ignorant, then you need to do what is best for your child and that may be keeping them away from church activities and finding other positive experiences and groups for them to be involved with. I felt uncomfortable sending my oldest to YW when she first turned 12 because I was getting bad vibes from the leaders– that they didn’t like me, I was a nuisance, but they’d take my daughter and they knew what was best for her. I pushed that sentiment aside because this was church and it would be ok, and although my daughter wasn’t blatantly bullied, her self esteem suffered, she no longer wanted to go to church, she became depressed, I had to talk to her every night for an hour just to keep her hope up and she had been a previously happy bright wonderful child. We were able to move from that ward and she healed in our new wonderful ward, but it split a year later and we ended up with some of the same attitudes as before, but worse. This time we were prepared and I was not willing to just hand my child over and put them in a potentially dangerous situation like that. We were very choosey about which activities they went to, I did not send them to girls’ camp or to pioneer trek. I knew the damage potential and I kept them home. It got so bad that we eventually only attended sacrament meeting and finally moved, but my kids came out unscathed because we were watching and kept them home. Sometimes no church is better than bad church. We are in an awesome ward now, and I hope it lasts, but now that we have been through the bad twice, we will always be watchful and on guard. I think a great measure of how good it is for your kids is if they want to go, because they’ll want to go if they feel loved and accepted, and they won’t want to go if they don’t. And if they don’t I wouldn’t make them or if I had to go through it again, I think I would find a ward for them to attend where they did feel acceptance. The need for acceptance especially at church cannot be overestimated.
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  • Lori Wood March 3, 2014, 10:13 pm

    This has affected the way I parent. Thank you for having the courage to speak and write. I see red when kids are mean to each other. Life is too short to not feel safe, especially at church.

  • Heartbroken mom March 3, 2014, 11:30 pm

    My son has been bullied at church for a few years, but it reached a fever pitch recently when my son made a mistake while passing the sacrament. The other boys in his quorum whispered and told him he totally screwed up (this is his 2nd month in the deacon quorum, so it’s still a new concept for him) and made him feel so small and stupid. They then brought it up in priesthood when they got into class and started yelling at him. My son wears his heart on his sleeve and started crying in front of everyone (which I would have too). The leader jumped in immediately and put a stop to it. He was very upset about the situation (esp since one of the kids yelling was his son), and he was the one the actually told me what happened. He was upset because he looked at my son in that moment and knew he had lost him and he may never get him back.
    Church should be a safe haven where we all feel love and protection from the worries of the world, but it’s the opposite for my son. He gets headaches quite often before church and before mutual activities. I want him to want to be at church and continue growing his testimony, and I want to help him. How do I do that, though?

  • Lori Hanby March 3, 2014, 11:52 pm

    Thank you for a great article. I would love to know what the girl’s parents said and did that helped her change her bullying ways.

  • Susan Corpany March 4, 2014, 2:19 am

    I haven’t been to your blog in such a long time, but I found this article tonight and could not stop reading. Suffice it to say that some of my early experiences made me sensitive to the bullying of others. (Still remember the girl who made fun of the dress I wore to my baptism.) When I was a YW leader, I noticed that my group of Beehives were mean and excluding one of the girls in the class. I could not figure out how they could all be so sweet and kind to the Down Syndrome girl in the class and yet not see their unkindness to this girl, who was just a sweet quiet kid. So anyway, one week when she wasn’t there, I told them we were going to plan a service project for a “sister” in the ward. I deliberately let them think it was a RS sister I was talking about. Said she didn’t have many friends, that the other “sisters” sometimes forgot to include her, etc. They very enthusiastically planned a surprise birthday party for her. I told them I would take care of getting her there. They were all more than a little surprised when the “sister” who showed up to the birthday party was the girl they had been unkind to. They could see how touched she was by the efforts they had gone to and it was not lost on them that it was their behavior that I had been talking about. Things changed, somewhat slowly, but they did better. She started getting invites to things that weren’t church related. She still was not part of the inner core group, but they stopped being unkind and were more inclusive.

  • Cimmy March 4, 2014, 7:34 am

    I’ve watched that video. When I did, I couldn’t help wondering why the boys were being mean to her. She’s beautiful! I was bullied all through school and sexually abused when I was 10. I have ADD, which means I can’t help being different and I never fit in. People soon figured out that I had a problem with sex. No one ever spoke with me about what was going on in my life until I brought it up years later, at 16. From my experiences, I learned not to trust people. I blamed myself for any friendships that didn’t happen. I put my husband through hell, out of a belief that he would be just the same. I have been blessed in that. We recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. For what it’s worth, had we been in the same ward, I would have been your friend. I have sort of a reputation for befriending anyone who looked like they needed a friend.
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  • Kelly March 4, 2014, 9:09 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have a daughter that is struggling with this. I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

  • Kimi March 4, 2014, 10:06 am

    We have been dealing with this at Primary for months. I teach the 10/11 yo class and most of the kids involved are in my class. We have had many discussions about bullying but the issue is still there. They don’t dare say anything mean when I am around or another adult and we are making sure that they aren’t alone but we have to be very vigilant. I have noticed lately that things have gone more “underground” and my sweet 8 yo daughter has been the target of whispered comments and shunning. I am having to work on controlling my frustration and sadness while dealing with the bad behavior. My next primary lesson will start with showing this video and discussing exactly what the negative behaviors are and why we don’t do them. I am also going to confront the girls directly who were saying negative things about my daughter-lovingly of course-but to let them know that it is not okay to whisper and gossip and make fun of people even if that person doesn’t hear it. It breaks my heart that my daughter has to endure what I lived with as a young person growing up in this church. My motto is that children in primary should 1. feel safe 2. feel loved and 3. feel the spirit. When kids are mean to other children none of those things can occur.

  • Lisa Ramsey March 4, 2014, 10:30 am

    Thank you for sharing this story! We aren’t alone!

  • Amy March 4, 2014, 3:03 pm

    I am so glad that the situation went so well for your daughter!!
    Unfortunately when I was a Young a Women’s Leader, we had a family of three girls that were bully’s to every new girl that came into the Ward or any girl for that matter they thought were too pretty. We saw 4 girls be driven away from church and finally said we had enough.
    We approached the parents and the mother blew up in our faces saying it was an insult that her daughters were driving girls away from the church and then in turn decided to pull her daughters out of Young Women’s.
    We were hurt that they stopped coming and the fact that they made up most of the young women’s program, which the mother knew, we prayed and asked them to come back. So we had a meeting with the bishop and the mother and father came in with the YW president and myself. It was a brutal meeting filled with anamosity directed towards us leaders and that we should be released from our callings and to apologize to her girls.
    The bishop said that wasn’t going to happen and reminded the mom that issues with her family have come up before so this wasn’t the first offense. By the end of the meeting the mother calmed down and agreed to alow her daughters to come back to YW. The bishop then told us leaders to watch over the girls and if something like this were to happen again to address is up front instead of waiting for so long.

    And that was it. No apologies, no punishment, no changes to the girls behaviour and it was as if it was all done in vain. Thankfully the girls grew up and slowly went away which helped the situation of non bullies. My only wish was that the mother would have responded differently then she had. I can only image that those girls of hers will have a hard dose of reality in the real world and it may change their perspectives. Who knows, God works in mysterious ways.

  • Diane March 4, 2014, 4:45 pm

    My 9th grade daughter is getting some of this in her seminary class. The teacher even makes fun of her. And he gave a lesson about bullying and showed that video. I think it must be meaningless when it is given by an adult who has no shame picking on high school kids.

  • Alissa March 4, 2014, 7:29 pm

    The sad truth is that even if the bullying stops, sometimes the pain remains. A child who was bullied and has stopped attending his classes because of what happened may take years to forgive. One bully moved (thank heaven because his parents were in complete denial of their son’s actions) and the other bully eased up, she’s still learning to control her mouth. My son is still very selective in his activity attendance and when he goes, he often hides in a classroom to avoid his bully and leaders who think that since she no longer publicly mean to him they should be friends, forgive and forget. I admit that I have also told him to just get a grip and move on. Holding a grudge isn’t hurting her it is only hurting you. But then I realized that I cannot dictate the state of forgiveness he is in. If he is not ready, I cannot make him ready. Maybe he will be bitter his entire life and that is his choice but it is hard to watch when all of this bullying took place at church. I know he will be one of those people who as an adult will probably stop going to church when he is offended and I sometimes wonder how many of those adults were once bullied in what should be a loving and safe environment and were damaged for life.

  • Kareena March 4, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the article. I’m a seminary teacher and we are reading in Helaman where it is clear that the awful people all “profess to be members of the church” I have been impressed to testify that their greatest opposition will come from members of the church- the book of Helaman even mentions bloodshed- which is what you are describing (well not literally) and also what’s in the video. A great source for hope in these situations is found in this Great part of the Book of Mormon. I’m greatful to the parents who took responsibility for their daughter’s actions. I’ve seen the opposite where the parents actions either vindicated or helped the child to be a bully.
    This article and accompanying video made me question a bullying tactic in myself when I am dealing with my own children, I will do better

  • Rena March 4, 2014, 11:58 pm

    I wonder when we will be able to confront spousal abuse by ‘good’ members with the same vigor

  • Sister of a bully March 5, 2014, 1:22 am

    This is a good article. Can identify with lots of comments. I was that girl that was always the smallest in the school, every school, ever. I talked constantly (still do) and must have been writing sentences in front of the principles office every week 1-3rd grade. In 3rd grade I was moved from the slow kids classes (I had speech therapy and finally started speaking clearly) to the smart kid classes and interrupted a bit less.

    I was that girl that owned up to my short comings before anyone else could point them out. I’m 33 yrs old and I still do this. (Example, I still talk a lot) I don’t do it for sympathy. I am not a victim and no one can make me one. My mother is a victim, still and she’s 60! Always talking about how emotionally abused she was by her brother, my dad. She’d never go to relief society (for 20 yrs) because she said the other sisters were always talking about her and what a bad mother she was. This was completely false by the way. I was in college before I finally had the courage to tell her straight out that these women had better things to do then think about her all day, every day.

    At the same time though, my parents definitely taught me the gospel and I knew what I was worth, and thanks to that I didn’t really care what everyone else thought. I measured my behavior by what I knew The Lord would want. Because my mom always felt so victimized, we weren’t taught to not be bullies, we were instead always taught to stand up for others, and that’s what we did. My better friends were usually some of the funniest looking, poorest, and slowest kids in school, and usually big which can come on handy. Emotionally or verbally there is just nothing you could so to me, and physically I was very defensive and stayed out of as many situations as possible. I don’t go there physically and even when physically attacked, which has happened several times, was able to resolve it non physically. Honesty, I am a problem solver. Thanks to my mothers complete in ability to address or solve her problems, she likes to wallow and be a victim, to this day, I learned what not to do. I solve my problems, and many of the people that were the meanest to me became good friends when we got past it. It would take a lot to fill you in on how to do that, but the bottom line is they can’t harm you when you KNOW what you’re worth. The gospel is everything to me, I’m so grateful for it. A full half of my siblings are completely off the deep end church wise (and we had 10+ kids) so you never know what your kids will turn out like.

    That said, imagine my complete shock when like 6 of us were staunch allies of under dogs and like 3 were sort of passive but still stick up for others when it gets bad and then kid number ten, my youngest sister turns out to be a complete bully.

    My youngest brother is handicapped, he has Down syndrome, he is far smaller than my sister. In fact my sister is the only one of all of us that was ever big as a child, she packs a whallup! She regularly pounded my smaller, younger handicapped brother. She bullied kids at school. She never liked the kids her age, especially the girls because she says they are snotty, prissy, bratty etc. She was an out right jerk! She stopped going to young women’s by age 14. Honestly I could hardly stand her. She was rude and demanding of my parents all the time, incredibly entitled.

    My parents were shocked. How on earth did they raise a bully? She bullies my mother all the time, my mother is after all a victim. My sister is now 19 and though she is over a lot of it, she still bullies my mother when she is out of sorts spiritually. (Which is usually a result of her spending four straight days playing video games and doing nothing constructive) I think it’s a hard habit to break for her and my mom because mom is SUCH a victim, seriously, and she’s my sister’s last punching bag. I am 14 yrs older than this sister so it’s been super interesting for me. And of course, she has been actively trying to shape up for probably about four years now, it’s been a tough road for her.

    A few things I’ve discovered over the years about the bully from a good home.
    1. She doesn’t care how other people feel because she only cares about herself. She would never try to put herself in their shoes because she literally can’t imagine them. She would stay up all night watching movies and then fall asleep in class. (Age 10) when her teachers brought it up she’d say her mom made her stay up all night cleaning. A total lie, she’s the youngest, who’s she cleaning up after! But the principle would immediately call my parents and threaten child services on them. Everyone always believes the child! This would make my mom paranoid and she would give in to her every whim for the next year. She was afraid to push it since she also had custody of her Down syndrome son to lose in a state where child services can take kids first and get proof later.

    2. My mothers victimization meant she had no friends, we also had no relatives within 5000 miles of us. This is not an exaggeration. These kids need other adults on their life. My mom has told me several times that she doesn’t think my sister would have started pulling out of it at all if my husband and I hadn’t moved back home when my sister was 13. I’m almost like an aunt. I’m not tired, I’m not afraid of her, and I take no crap from her, and my mother is truly jealous of how much better she treats me. So for people wondering how to help bullies. Be that strong adult in their life. As their young women leader, or scout leader or whatever, you love them but you take no crap from them. It takes a village to raise a child. I was a webelo scout leader for 5 years, and I never had a problem. Some of the boys came in bratty, but they didn’t go out that way. At least not at scouts. Most of the less active boys came to scouts even though they didn’t come to church. Oh, and when you’re that adult, be direct! Kids don’t need political correct beating around the bush or long lectures. Say it like it is and give them a chance to be better.

    3. The bully needs responsibility. When my sister turned 16 she should have been in young women’s. Recognizing her issues they instead called her to be a nursery helper.oh yeah! No time to think about yourself with 20 kids in nursery! And they don’t care what you say either because they don’t really talk. After a year of that she was assigned as a primary teacher. 6 year olds I think. She would come home shocked daily at what the kids would say to her. Also, she was working with other adults constantly in these positions, not her parents. That’s important, other adults need to give them responsibility and hold them accountable. And these of course are adults that can’t be intimidated.

    4. Sometimes both bullies and victims need a chance to start over. My sister has lived in the same house her entire life! I can’t imagine. My parent moved four times by the time I was 12, and then my last six years were in the same house. Then again, in our area, school boundaries changed twice and ward boundaries changed four times in six years so there was some mixing up. But, my house was where they could come to change. One of my other sisters felt very victimized, she stayed at my house one summer and went to my ward. We worked on the concept of giving people power over you and knowing what your worth. By the end of the summer she said she was ready to go back. She was able to make many good friends and cut loose old ones that had ‘turned on her’ without bitterness. I only live an hour a way. Same stake even.but it was enough of a change for her to bolster herself. Bully sister did the same thing, but only for a month. She said though that it was amazing how much nicer she felt just getting up every day and helping out and be treated at face value. It was the start of the end of her public bullying. (Still has the problem with my mom) and of course I owed her nothing, and she knew it, and she had to help out, and she knew it, and that made a big difference.

    5. Some people won’t change, yet. That doesn’t mean you accept their behavior. Said bully sister was completely banned from my house for 18 months due to her frequent swearing at family members when upset. (She was 12!) I told her I refused to allow it in my home. You can bet my dad was pretty mad, but I put my foot down and my husband backed it up and my dad got over it when she miraculously started to stop swearing. Sometimes you have to do what’s right for the child even if it might make your life difficult. Resolution. Doesn’t come easily or quickly’ or sometimes at all. You have to
    endure to the end!

    And never give up hope. If you don’t love them, you can’t help them.

  • Amanda March 5, 2014, 7:51 am

    Thank you so much for this article. I have a family member who went inactive and s still 25 years later in large part from YW being cliquish and snobbish. My brother got a swirly (head in toilet) at church that broke his glasses. Thankfully he is active. All is NOT right in Zion, lets not kid ourselves. This is a subject that needs more attention from SLC. I haven’t been in YW leadership for a while, but when I was I don’t remember getting the kind of great suggestions that are here.

  • Shanna Vineyard March 5, 2014, 8:12 am

    Thank you sooooo much for taking the time and love to post this. I’ve been in tears all morning. I cannot fathom my children being treated this way much less them doing it to another one of Heavenly Father’s children. I am going to sit my family down and we are going to watch this together and discuss your post. I honestly feel like this should be shown in every school across America! And HOME for that matter. Thanks again!
    Shanna Vineyard recently posted…Hogs and Kisses Bag Topper & Viva Las VegasMy Profile

  • Caryn March 5, 2014, 9:17 am

    If only this stopped… As a convert I never honestly felt welcome by anyone besides by my home teacher. Meetings went on and I felt like the talks in my Illinois ward were really “superior” to non members… With no thought at all that converts and members family’s might not be the same. I should have stood up and voiced my concerns to relief society but I stayed quiet. I never really felt comfortable even now… Almost like I don’t belong

  • Scott March 5, 2014, 9:40 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! It needs to be addressed. As members, we must live our religion and treat others the way we are taught. But so many suffer. I’ve suffered and know this too well.

    Thank you, again, for sharing this.


  • Elyse March 5, 2014, 10:50 am

    It was so helpful to read this. My 15 year old son is being quietly bullied at church. Everyone is looking for the big physical insults and injuries. I am the one who holds him when he cries each time he comes home. After much persuasion he went to church this last Sunday – just for sacrament meeting. We spoke with the bishop, who wisely invited him to attend with the priests. Hopefully this will get him the separation he needs from the bully, and his father – who bullies our whole family in the same manner. His dad reached over the row to take the sacrament tray from the family in front of him instaed of allowing my 13 year old son – who was standing there ready – to pass it to him – the adult father bullying my 13 year old deacon!
    I just want church to be a safe place for my chilren to learn and grow.
    Considering moving wards, just praying the ward will split soon, and in the right way
    On that note, can I add that the YW are honestly very diverse, but welcome and love eachother in a way that makes my heart smile? If all youth could just be like these young women!

  • Alana McCormack March 5, 2014, 11:10 am

    This post brought me to tears as I was reading, your experience of being bullied at church is exactly the same as mine, people stayed quiet even my leaders……finally at 18 she moved to the ysa ward (she moved in when I was 6). Since then I’ve fought to overcome what she and her clique of friends did and I can finally be in the same room during institute without feeling inferior (I’m now 24).

    Thank you for sharing this message with the world you and your family are amazing! God Bless you all! Xxxxxxx

  • CC March 5, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Only people who were bullied are going to read this. The problem is that in the church there are holies (someone who is so important to the church) and projects (someone who needs to be saved) and neither can do any wrong. If you don’t fall into one of those groups, you are screwed.
    Kids have to learn bullying somewhere and I have yet to live in ward where kids were being bullied and the adults weren’t doing the same thing, although I did live in an area where the teenagers were a much better example then their parents.
    You can talk about, air your grievances, blame the victim, argue over who’s the real victim, excuse or whatever else but nothing is going to get done. We have to pretend that we’re all one united people to prove that we are the true church. I have been in wards where people were bullied for not being from Utah, not working for Intel, being Hispanic, not speaking Spanish, not rich, not having the wife working outside the home, not being a native Montanan, not having served a mission, having a part member family, having non-Morman friends. etc.. That is how united we are.
    We are a convert religion. It is our goal and our purpose. How are we supposed to do that when there are so many people saying you’re not good enough, which is all that bullying is. You’re supposed to convert your friends but I’d be embarrassed for my friends to meet a lot of the church members.
    I HATE the ward I’m in now. I hate the way they treat me. I hate the way they treat my children. I really hate the way they treat my husband. I could give you a long sob story about why but no one really cares. We’re the bad people because we don’t drop everything to make the holies feel good about themselves.
    It may feel good to write about the bullying but it’s not going to change anything.

  • Kimberly Ripplinger March 5, 2014, 12:40 pm

    I was also bullied at school and at church. I watched the video and it was wonderful. I hope that it helps us realize that bullying can happen in church. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • MM. March 5, 2014, 3:39 pm

    This hits home for me because my home ward has never been really welcoming to others. I have to laugh at testimony meeting sometimes because people say over and over how great my ward is. I beg to differ on that one! My siblings and i were teased quite a bit just because we chose to go to a different school than everyone else in the ward.
    It was quite hurtful because i personally was shunned from activities and was often talked about behind my back. I refused to go to church because i didn’t see a point in going to church where being taught to accept others wasn’t the case. It seemed to cease my senior year after i had succeed in my school and was apart of championship sports teams. But it still happens once in a while. Fortunately there were a group of girls who were older than me that have accepted me for who i was. I can’t begin to tell you how happy i was to find someone who didn’t shun me. Its rare to find girls like that these days.
    My sister wasn’t as fortunate as I. She had gotten into a fight with a girl at a church ball practice. My sister had played for years on her Jr. and freshman school teams. The other girl thought she knew more than her but never was on a school team. She would continue to tell my sister what to do and was really rude about it. Well needless to say that girl got a nice sock in the mouth and my sister had finally had enough. She would refuse to go to church. My brother is basically going through the same thing, getting teased by kids who don’t have anything going for them. Jealous of my brother’s success with his teams.
    We tried not to let those kids get to us but at those crucial teenage years its hard to not want to be accepted. My siblings and i had to learn to depend on each other for support and we are now very close to one another. We know that we can always go to each other and not be judged. I hope that one day bullying will no longer be an issue and i will do everything in my power to stop it if i see it.

  • Craig March 5, 2014, 7:12 pm

    Alison, I am speechless. I am also sitting here with tears running down my face. I am so impressed with your courage in coming forth with this story, with your ability to tie it in so well with Pres. Uchtdorf’s unmistakable message. As so many have related, there are so many targets of bullying that we would appear to be the majority. How, then, do bullys manage to take control? This message is too late for me to protect my children (the only non-whites in our ward for most of their lives) but I have a renewed interest in stamping out bullies (that image is not lost on me) in church. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Judith Millward March 5, 2014, 8:26 pm

    Thanks for your excellent article. It made me realize that what I called not getting along with. . .was really bullying, in school, and in church (the Mormon church.) maybe knowing what the really word is I can do some mending. Lost bad feelings toward others with other church lessons, but not the bad feelings about myself.

  • Sharon March 5, 2014, 10:08 pm

    These stories make me sad and angry. I’ve seen the way people treat others in my youth and as I have aged. My brother was judged because of dyslexia. The LDS kids treated him like he was dumb and pushed him into a group of friends that had him drinking and doing drugs in jr high. No he didn’t have the courage to stand for the right because he had lost all the self esteem he had and didn’t feel worthy. He died at 36 years of age.
    I was very protective of my Children. I thought I was on top of it. A new family moved to town and in a few short weeks a boy my son’s age had turned all the boys in my son’s age group against him. He spent many years as a loner. I was so impressed with how he handled the problem. He didn’t want me interfering. So when I would ask why he wasn’t going to dances and hanging out with any of his so called friends he told me he would rather stay home than deal with their language and the activities they were involved in. My son stayed active, served a mission, married in the temple and now has his Doctorate and they’re expecting their 3rd child. He also is running a clinic. But the scenario isnt quite the same for my daughter. Her two best friends at church were wonderful when it was her and 1 of them. But when it was all 3 she was odd man out. Thru the years her self esteem shriveled. She needed friends and found them in kids that built her up. They also Introduced her to drugs . As she hit bottom and we kicked her out she began her climb back into life. She has been fighting to feel worthy to take the sacrament again. She is married and has a new baby. I truly hope and pray that she can realize that the atonement is for the benefit of us all. I’m sure these life experiences are to help us grow and learn. I just think that at least at church we should all feel comfortable and safe. We shouldn’t have to worry if our kids are having good experiences, feeling love and are safe. This has taught me that a perfect church has alot of imperfect members. I knew there were some but now I know there are MANY!

  • caramelon61 March 6, 2014, 12:07 am

    I cannot understand why people who are church members would act that way, especially at church. When I first watched the Mormon Message you referenced, I was surprised when it got to the “youth activity” section, and realized those boys were members. I know we’re not immune to temptation and improper behavior, but I certainly expect better from those who are members and from my own children. I am glad some of your challenges were worked out, and hope that this is not a “more often than not” scenario for anyone. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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  • Bev C March 6, 2014, 12:27 am

    My daughter-in-law sent me this to help me understand what her daughter (my granddaughter) is going through in her school. I’m beside myself with pain and sadness. I was never really bullied so it is hard for me to understand.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Annie (Older & hopefully wiser now!) March 6, 2014, 4:29 am

    I really appreciate your honesty and candor Alison. It’s about time this subject was brought to light, and you have done it well. I’m so very sorry for your painful experiences and I wish I truly had known you and been able to support you as you were going through these difficult experiences.
    There were some pretty terrible bullies when I grew up in Utah County, and sadly the worst one was our stk. president’s son. He was 2 years older than me and is in his mid-50’s now. Those who know him as an adult say that he is STILL a bully but has a lot more money and power.
    Very sad!!
    My worst bullying experience however has been as a teacher in YW….and it was ME who was bullied, not by the girls but by several other YW leaders!
    I had previously been in 4 other wards while living in the same home (because of boundary changes) and in 18 years had never had any problems with ward members whatsoever. In fact, I often commented to my husband how blessed we were to have lived in such amazingly friendly wards….and how even if I TRIED, I could not even think of ONE person that I didn’t like, or totally LOVE!
    After a recent boundary change however, that all changed. I suppose I was sort of “Pollyanna-ish” in my genuine love for others, that I NEVER saw it coming until it was too late. Unbeknownst to me there were some major jealousy issues going on. I am not what I would call beautiful and I never had a single illusion about being anything more than average in the looks department. I have a sister who was targeted and bullied for being “too pretty” but I wasn’t even close to being that good looking for sure!
    At one point my friend and I invited several women to a luncheon at her home, which I had put a lot of time and effort in to preparing. We invited some women over that we thought would be fun to get to know. Within about 5 minutes of sitting down to eat they were having a fat bashing fiesta….(I am definitely NOT thin so I was a bit shocked by their meanness) They were all convinced that anyone who was overweight was lazy and basically a pig. I have a metabolic illness and have been on incredibly strict diets for most of life, but I gain weight eating anything that contains carbs. I could swear that even smelling carbs. make me gain weight!! :o( Exercise makes me feel better but does nothing in the weight loss department. In fact losing weight has been basically impossible for many years. Plus I have had to be on a lot of Steroids, which have caused me to gain weight and NOT be able to lose it!
    Back to my story…..these women went from FAT bashing to knocking women over 40 for “wearing their hair long!” (my hair is LONG). I listened with horror as they dug at, dissected and devoured specific women that they knew who wore their hair “too long” and according to them, “looked ridiculous!”
    I was so completely shocked by their shrill tone and mockery that words totally escaped me. I soon felt that I couldn’t breathe. Within a few minutes I had tears streaming down my face but none of them ever looked my way. My heart was racing and I kept trying to think of what to say that might possibly make them realize how ugly they sounded, and prayed to say something what would help their consciences convict them without sounding emotional. Instead I got up and started clearing dishes, wanting more than anything to just take my purse and leave before they saw how much they had hurt me.
    I thought it was over until later the following Sunday, when I was greeting people after Gospel Doctrine class.
    The women (who I now think of as the “ring-leader” of this group….who incidentally had very short spiked black hair) came up to me, raised her eyebrows (as if to ask what I was going to do about it) picked up my long hair proceeded to make “cutting motions” with her fingers on my hair.
    Instead of saying something I (being the Pollyanna that I am) excused her mean behavior in my mind…again, and ignored her bizarre gesture while making small talk, as if I didn’t even notice.
    For at least a year after that she did it every time she saw me…even if I happened to glance in her direction from across the room she would make cutting motions with her fingers, while giving me a nasty “gotcha” smile each time.

    Honestly looking back, I wish I had squashed her “scissors” (fingers) with my paper (hands) VERY hard the first time she did it, and called myself the winner of that round!!
    Later I was called to be in YW as a teacher, and wouldn’t you know it, SHE was in the Presidency. It is too long of a story to tell but basically she and three other women (who had formerly been at least friendly acquaintances) became such gossip mongers and I soon became a target.
    For instance, if I brought my girls something I had made for them I was “showing off”, and I soon learned that the four of them hated anyone who could sew. (I could sew)
    If I brought my girls a homemade candied apple in the Fall, a gift at Christmas time, or a heart shaped decorated cookie for Valentines day, it made me “A BAD EXAMPLE” since (oh my gosh!) I was overweight. Never mind that the very thin SS teacher brought these same girls bags of candy to pass around every single week. Yet no one ever seemed to notice that.) This barely scratches the surface of what transpired over time. I hung in there for nearly 2 years, trying to live above it, but in the end I had to ask to be released.
    My take on it looking back is that no one wants to BE THE ONE who is being made fun of, targeted, or bullied….so instead (even if they know it’s wrong) the wanna-be’s of the “queen bee” HAVE to become the best friend of the bully to stay safe.
    Wolves travel in packs, so do mobs. Bullies always have their “toadies”.
    The dictionary defines a toady as: “A person who praises and helps powerful people in order to get their approval or one who flatters in the hope of gaining favors ”

    It’s incredibly sad that this kind of divisive behavior exists in the church, and leaders are definitely NOT immune. In (D&C 121:39.) is states that “almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, …will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”
    I’m grateful that I had a strong testimony because at the end when I’d finally had it and told the Bishop what was going on, he took out one of the trouble makers in that presidency out of YW…. and put her directly into ANOTHER presidency. :o/

    Here’s a great article on this from the Sept.1990 Ensign.
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  • Linda Kincaid March 6, 2014, 6:40 am

    My son has new teachers this year, husband/wife team and they bully him. When they first came to me to discuss his behavior in January I was shocked because he had never had been a problem in Primary, so I told the teachers I would sit in his class the following Sunday.
    I was shocked by what I heard. I had taught this class the first Sunday of the year so I understood it was a difficult class, but they were trying to make an example of my son. I came into the class frustrated that my son was being difficult for his new teachers, but left the class so sad that a teacher could do that to a 7 year old boy. Was he perfect? No, but was by far not the problem. We went home that day and talked about bullies again.
    I sit in his class every Sunday to protect him because that seemed easier then making a fuss about it with the teachers, but after reading this I will do more then sit in his classroom, I will stand up to his teachers.

  • FormerBully March 6, 2014, 9:11 am

    Just had to chime in here: I used to be a bully. It started in 3rd grade. I was a girl and primarily picked on the boys, since I knew they wouldn’t tell thanks to male pride. Most of the time children (and probably adults) who bully do it because they feel powerless, threatened, and/or insecure. I was in so much pain emotionally, it felt good to at least make sure SOMEONE else was as miserable as I was. I couldn’t articulate it. I couldn’t explain to my parents that the pressure to be excellent was more than I could handle, that watching my mother grieve over my sister’s death for years on end was more than I could bear, or that the sexual abuse I couldn’t quite remember haunted me. It wasn’t until I started a girls vs. boys brawl that garnered lots of attention one recess 2 years later that teachers were finally aware enough to do something about it. My parents had no idea, recess was poorly supervised, and no one was telling. Why would I stop? My mother made me wear dresses for 2 weeks so that I would act more “lady-like” and I was humiliated. I am fortunate that my teacher ALSO took an interest in me as a person and made time to talk to me, to apologize for addressing it in front of other students (my mom was a bus driver), and just let me feel that what bothered me was important to him. Without that, I think the punishment may have just backfired. I know this didn’t take place at church, I just wanted to illuminate that these kids who bully aren’t just horrible people. Their parents truly may not know, or may be part of the problem. Most of the time, they are sad, lonely, bullied, and/or hurting. They need you to let their parents/leaders/teachers know, to take action, but especially to take an interest.

  • Name Withheld March 6, 2014, 9:16 am

    I have watched my son endure this for YEARS. I too tried everything that I knew to do. He has Asperger’s, which made him especially vulnerable. We recently moved to a new town a few hours away and his life has turned around. He is making better choices. I truly feel the new environment has helped him to make better choices. He was so depressed that he was turning to bad choices to cope with the bullying. More people need to take a stand.

  • Carol March 6, 2014, 11:56 am

    Just had a thought…a lot of people are wondering how to deal with bullies. From this article and scripture, my two cents would be to confront and call out on behavior. Im on a phone, so ill just urge people to read the New Testament and observe how Christ dealt with His bullies (yes, i realize that he was crucified ultimately, but while he lived (and after resurrection) none of the bullies could get a grip on him).

  • SeattleGirl March 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

    The most dishonest people I have encountered are fellow LDS in Utah. One micro-manager boss hated the inconvenience of pregnant teachers and refused my continued employment, then lied to all the parents, said I was untrained and didn’t want to return. Deceit! Lies! Bully! Funny, I’d taught for years and been asked BY HER for more.

    Another “I’m-in-the-bishopric” boss was so strung on keeping his ‘high-school popular’ status he’d poke fun of co-workers behind their backs in meetings, among other things, until I realized how funny it wasn’t and said something to his boss – also LDS – about it. Then I became the target. They were both in the same ward so you can imagine what happened. All of a sudden, all my bright ideas weren’t so bright anymore. In fact, if I brought up an idea it was dismissed, then it was hailed in the next meeting attributed to someone else. If managers complained and I said any comment, quickly all of the complaints came from my mouth and I had to answer for things I never said or were totally off-base. If another manager didn’t get her team to complete something, it was OK; if my team (rarely) missed even a tiny box I was raked over the coals and brought up numerous times. Other managers of my rank had input on my annual review – which they shouldn’t have had and mine was the only “shared” in public review – yet I was never asked to contribute to theirs. They were “Working From Home” but no one could reach them during work hours. (Huh?) If I asked a simple question or for clarification, I was accused of not knowing my job, yet anyone else could ask all the questions they wanted. I wondered how my confidential shares became public domain. I’m a people-pleaser and was called into several private 1:1 meetings with these LDS peeps – they didn’t care about tears, it was entertainment and they were holding salt buckets to throw on the wound – and told there was a “perception” I was not a leader. The team I managed was thriving and happy yet could see what was going on, as could others. It hit me like a bolt of lightning one day: they were insecure/embarrassed and the only way to redeem themselves was to attack anyone confident enough who threatened their reign – me. Bully! Bully! Bully! Mean people are the worst! At least my boss tried to look shocked when I resigned, then they rushed me to the conference room to announce it. Weird, no one else has EVER had to do that?! He ignored me an entire month until my final week – no good-bye/fake thanks/etc. – and sent a hurried email request that I write down my job duties to make things easier for him. Funny, I was begged BY HIM to take the job because he didn’t want another co-worker to get it (he’d bullied her into quitting earlier). Insane!

    Oh, I’ve had ‘sisters’ criticize and say mean things behind my back too! My happy reply is, “If they don’t like how I do it, then they are more than welcome to do it!” That’s always shut ’em up – kill ’em with kindness, kill ’em with kindness. Gossip is adult-bullying. STOP IT is so appropriate. Pres. Uchtdorf’s message is timeless.

    It wasn’t in the chapel, but I’ve been bullied by LDS members who claim to be Christ-like. Their poisonous actions were far from it. They act of everything we profess to be against, and a prime example of what NOT to be like. There are plenty of good people who never walk through the chapel doors, and a lot of deceitful people sitting in the front row. I’ve not given their unhappy selves much thought because I’m too busy living a full, joyous, productive life strengthened with the knowledge that I AM a mom/wife/sister/daughter, I AM a teacher, I AM a leader, and I AM one who touches others’ lives for good. Not sure they can say the same thing 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Hopefully people who have been bullied will confidently stand and see their true strength, and bullies will be put in their rightful place and STOP IT!

  • Kyba March 6, 2014, 5:52 pm

    I was bullied at church but not by the kids, by the moms. Young Women’s was the worst part of my teen life. The saddest part is my mom was being bullied by them too and she could help herself so how in the world was she going to help me.

  • Mother of Bully Bait March 6, 2014, 6:15 pm

    What do you do when the bully is your daughter’s YW President?!?

  • Adrienne March 6, 2014, 6:35 pm

    When I was little, I was bullied at church. My parents couldn’t figure out why I dreaded going when I was only in Primary. I still haven’t told then because the problem stopped… after moving 7 states away.
    On multiple occasions the vulgarities and harassment that where tossed my way were in front of the leaders who, just like you and your daughter, excused it as horseplay or “boys will be boys”. The worst offenders where two boys, brothers, that would gang up on me. One of them, the older one, sat on me in an empty room for 30 minutes until he got bored (I was 7 and he was 13 so there was no way to get him off) and locked me in the boys bathroom twice, among other things. When I told my leaders or parents they A. didn’t believe me because I was an imaginative 7-12 year old or B. told me the boys were just playing.
    Young women’s was no better, the girls all ignored me. I was the youngest, therefore I was left out. My leaders didn’t notice.
    We moved; new ward. This one has no such problem. I cant imagine there being anything going on like at my old ward. The leaders listen and the kids are nice and include everyone. Until I moved I never knew how much of a difference there was between wards.

  • Diane March 6, 2014, 8:38 pm

    I was bullied when I was younger I went to kindergarten for 2 weeks then was placed in first grade. This put me with one group at school and one group in church. I was also adopted and at one point a girl said to me I know why your real mom didn’t want you cause your retarded. To a fourth grader that was more painful than hitting me with a hammer. But I had a wonderful mom who always said to me its your church too don’t let anyone have your eternal salvation.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2014, 9:09 pm

    But I had a wonderful mom who always said to me its your church too don’t let anyone have your eternal salvation.

    I want to put that on a bumper sticker!

  • imafishtank March 6, 2014, 11:22 pm

    First off, I apologize if my thoughts seem jumbled and all over the place- Pregnancy + ADHD…..

    So, I actually took the time and read all of the comments, and I noticed a question that popped up over and over- how do we keep our kids from becoming a bully? how do we keep them from being bullied?

    First, my story. I thought back to my experiences and let me tell you, I never fit in. The boys (and a few of the girls) in my very large age group at church were flat out mean. I grew up with these kids and realized that I probably have never had a conversation with probably 4 of them, and I’m ok with that. So, as mean as these kids were, why did I not considered myself bullied? Because I had a friend. 2. Amy and Tony. There were 2 wards where we lived, a “rich” ward and our ward, usually split that way, but boundaries changed often enough that we were mixed now and then. In our ward, our age group, there were about 20 of us. I was not an easy person to like. Loud, annoying as all get out, awkward looking, glasses, and nobody knew that ADHD was responsible for most of my odd behaviors. But my parents had always taught me ONE thing (well, they taught lots, but this pertains)- to BE a friend. I will tell you right now, that I was never a good friend, but Amy & I were probably the least fortunate financially, so we stuck together. And I’m SO glad we did. We had SO much fun- without the rest of our class. Tony became our friend as well because he didn’t participate in the crap that a lot of the other guys did. We lived in a town where 10% of our High School was LDS. Everyone knew who the Mormons were, and most of the Mormon’s were in their own little clique. I went in Mormon Hall during lunch one day to find another friend (who was absent that day) and was literally cussed out of the hall. Anyway….. that has nothing to do with anything

    Secondly, people change. One of the boys, who was not in my ward ever, but in every seminary class and what not, had always been mean to me. Then, so randomly, between Jr and Sr year, he changed. He said hi to me, he spoke respectfully of the church. It was so odd. I’ve often thought about asking him what changed…

    Where was I? Oh yes, you are not alone, teach your kids to be friends, even when it’s hard, and sometimes people change? I’m sorry if this just seems odd and discombombulated. I loved reading your article and the video is amazing. I hope I can teach my kids to be good friends and hopefully prevent some of this terrible behavior.
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  • Sarah Lyzzaik March 7, 2014, 7:43 am


    Thank you for writing this. My family has also been the victim of cruelty in the church. So much so that members of the ward, even the priesthood, we’re dis-fellowshipped after everything blew wide open. It took me over ten years to return to church. My sisters still have not fully recovered.

    The same offenders were our bullies at school and some of them came to our house each morning while my mom taught seminary. Their parents didn’t find anything wrong with the behavior and even defended their horrible children.

    I had to heal and learn to separate the gospel from the imperfect people in it. I am so happy I have found peace and that I have come back to the fold. We found an excellent ward.

    I hope that my children never experience what my family did.

  • Kimberly March 7, 2014, 8:46 am

    My lovely 15-year old daughter has struggled so much. Has she been bullied? Not really sure. Has she had individuals be hard on her more than I find acceptable, absolutely! Sadly, the person who has harmed her self-esteem most is a YW leader. My daughter is not bold, so she follows what the other girls in her YW group do. That includes being silly and sarcastic girls. As my daughter decided the only way to be a part of the group was to act like those girls, I counseled her against it. She decided to act like those girls thinking me an old, clueless mom. One of the YW leaders who seemed to laugh and praise the other girls for their pranks and sarcasm decided to tell my daughter that she was very awkward and socially retarded. When my daughter told me that and told me she didn’t want to go to YW anymore, I nearly flipped. When I confronted the leader she told me a story of how my daughter made a flippant comment to her in front of another YW. The other YW rolled her eyes and the leader said she nodded and shook her head. That was the reason for her saying that about my daughter. Because my 14-year old daughter was following the example of the other girls in the YW group, she was singled out in a negative way by this leader. My daughter has prayed for nearly a year that this leader be released. Sadly, she was made YW president. Now I fight with my daughter each week to go to YW on Sunday and Wednesday. The one good thing from this situation is that my daughter has seen that my counsel is sound and that as we pray we don’t ask anymore for things to change, but for us to change. She has become stronger, but still not bolder. She was already very sensitive to the needs of others, but she has become even more aware of their needs. It’s not all bad, but it’s really tough when one of the two places you expect to be safe isn’t.

  • Jim Horger II March 7, 2014, 8:50 am

    I’m pretty convinced the #1 reason that people leave the church is bullying and gossip. I personally thought it would stop as I got older and people matured. I have a very hard time on how people in our church separate into groups and gossip. Its a very sad thing and just plain wrong. Most of the time I just learned to ignore it. I’m no where to very active member that I wish to be because of it. My oldest son has left the church and is very active in a Christian church in SLC that is very active of preaching against the LDS church.
    I’m just saying we all need to do much better on how we treat each other. We need to think about the final results of any negative remark we mention about a fellow church member. We all can do much better than we are doing at this time. Why take the happiness that you feel at church away from others? Don’t do it.

  • Pat Hewitt March 7, 2014, 10:06 am

    My dad was in the US Air Force and in 1952 when I was 9 my family moved to England.
    Americans were hated and shouted at along the street, and honked at and blasphemed along the roads.

    I learned to smile. I was very happy to be American and had a good strong attitude about being one.

    Although I’m a convert, I’m a Mormon just like I’m an American.

    So, I’m advising smiling.

    Smiling is a good powerful expression.

    I don’t have an URL.

  • Emswie March 7, 2014, 11:17 am

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s always nice to hear/read of how others dealt with (or still deal with) bullying problems.

    I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Utah. My graduating class was barely over 100 and it was the largest of the four grades in my high school. My “Bob” also happened to be the son of my YW president so as you can imagine there was no avoiding him. We even rode the same bus to middle school, which is where I was first subjected to his “humor.” From middle school on Saturday was the only day I wasn’t subjected to laughs and jokes about my weight, my height, or my curly hair if he was feeling particularly nasty (at the time I considered my long, full, naturally ringletey hair to be the only beautiful part of me). That primary song “Saturday is a Special Day” took on a whole new meaning for me. It would take a couple of blog posts just to cover the scope of what happened and it’s effects. Suffice it to say that To this day I still cringe whenever I see him, and I partially blame my continuing struggle with activity and fellowshiping in the church to that formative time when leaders ignored his taunts and he was allowed to emotionally/verbally abuse me.

    As to teaching our youth about how to deal with bullies… I don’t think there’s ever going to be one clear “works every time,” kind of answer because each situation is different. I love whoever said that about “praying for them that despitefuly use you and persecute you.” Maybe it’s a matter of finding the perfect balance of compassion and righteous indignation.

  • Micki March 7, 2014, 11:50 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I was “the first girl” in fourth grade so I totally understand so much of your post. Even now as an adult, I still am awkward around people questioning if they are really my friends. Ugh

    I’m working with my 7 yr old to teach her how to stand up to bullies. It is hard because she is so sensitive. My 10 yr old daughter is so confident in herself that when the school counselor told her she needed to wear hair bows to conform with the other little girls, she asked me if she could get a pixie cut. Her little way of telling the counselor to drop dead ;p

    We had a bully issue in our scouts. Dh being the leader told this kid in very plain words that if he continued to bully he would have to stop attending unless a parent was with him. The kid told my husband to F off and that his mom said brother S was mean and he didn’t have to listen to him and his mom would make sure he got released. DH rolled his eyes and said “go ahead” … Two years later dh is now in the YM presidency and still in scouts. The kid is still a punk sometimes but he is a model citizen when DH is around! Kid even admitted dh is the only adult to ever stand up to him.

    Anyway, parents and adult leaders are do important to stopping it
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  • Libby B March 7, 2014, 1:32 pm

    I can identify with the being bullied all through my childhood and beyond. I did do the walk away a lot. Perhaps the most annoying thing, when I was ten, my father called and spoke to the parents of one of my bullies. The boy did lay off for a while. In fact he did become the suave suck up when he ran for student body officer in junior high and high school. That was the only time he ever spoke to me was to garner a vote.
    Years later, when I was in my twenties, still single, living in the same stake, I saw the father at the gas station. He was one of those good natured, always joking men that can mask THEIR bullying with jokes. He actually had the gall to joke with me of how “I had to have my daddy call and deal with being teased”. How dare he! I still have zero respect for the man, even after he became a bishop in a neighboring ward.

  • Mardee Clive March 7, 2014, 2:50 pm

    I have spent years wondering why i participated in bullying the “target” girl in church. But when my parents found out, I was grounded from my stereo and all music (the thing I held dearest) until I listened to all of the audiobook “psychocybernetics”. After that call to reality, I stopped. We are still good friends today and I am so grateful she forgave so easily. That isn’t everybody’s solution, but it helped me take control of myself.

  • anonymous March 7, 2014, 2:52 pm

    My family has experienced mormon bullying, even from the leaders. I grew up with it and now my children. My heart goes out to you and your daughters. Our family has relocated to another country for our children to be allowed to participate in the gospel. Bullying is absolutely contrary to the teachings and the example of the Savior.
    We have grown to understand scriptures differently, like pray for your enemy and those who despitefully use you, To trust in our Heavenly Father and live so the Spirit will guide. We are not perfect and don’t pretend to be. Watching other families endure some of the same bullying was been very difficult, like Alma and Amulek watching the believers be burned. I know there is a God and I know Jesus is the Christ. I’m grateful you allowed your daughter to be a part of the mormon message and are sharing. Those hurts are deep and lasting. Some, well, many, have asked why even continue attending church. Thank you for being a light!

  • Megan March 7, 2014, 3:11 pm

    This brought me to tears. Bullying needs to stop, I have been on only one side of it and its hurtful. Most people think it stops when you get older but in actuality, it just gets worse and worse and worse. Thank you for this.

  • Kathy March 7, 2014, 5:39 pm

    There are 2 places we should all feel safe – our homes, and church. It’s sort of expected that kids may have to face ugly behavior at school, but church?? That’s a whole other story. Many many many people who choose inactivity in church do so because of the way they’ve been treated by other people in their wards. Adults are not immune either. I think those who judge – another word for self-rightoeus bullying – will be judged for their part in pushing people out of the church.

    I grew up in Canada in a town where the LDS population was well known, a large portion of the basketball players, cheerleaders and student council were all LDS, and an LDS principal as well. He coined the phrase “I am a Child of God Syndrome”, which he used in reference to those LDS kids who behaved, spoke and looked down their noses at others not LDS, or LDS kids who were not part of those groups or whose standards were less than perfect. So sad.

  • Heather March 7, 2014, 7:52 pm

    I was picked on in church because my dad was a convert and he was a crane operator. My dad got sick with PNH which is a branch of cancer. I finally stood my ground. Even leaders picked on our family it was ridiculous. It brought me closer to The Lord. However, my sisters left and refuse to return and it breaks me. Church should be a place of refuege. I am always nicer to people because I’ve been there. Thank you so much for your story!

  • Donni March 7, 2014, 8:00 pm

    I haven’t been to my Sunday School class in forever because my daughter won’t go to her primary class unless I go with her. Bullying happens even within the church. It breaks my heart but I’d rather go with her than have her hate church. She was “getting sick” every week because she didn’t want to go to her primary class.

  • Lisa Leavitt March 7, 2014, 11:18 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing this. I believe this happens at church more than most people realize. Two of my six children were bullied at church. With one of my children we said all the things you mentioned, until an event at mutual where the kids crossed the line and other kids watched. I had had it and I called our Bishop and Young Men’s President very, very upset and told them what had happened. I told them that there are two places children should always feel safe and that is in their own homes and at church. They asked me to fill them in on everything that had happened in the past and action was taken. Our Bishop came over and spoke to us and our son. He was sick about the whole thing and did everything he could to try and make things better. Parents had sons apologize and one set of parents still wouldn’t believe there son could be a part of something so terrible.

    I had a daughter that was bullied at school and at church. It was so sad. We worked so hard to keep her self-esteem up. It’s so sad to see your daughter feel like she had no friends at church and not want to go to certain activities or girls camp because of how others treated her. Thankfully in my daughters Laurel years she had two leaders who were very in tune and helped a lot.

    I am so grateful that both of these children had strong enough testimony’s that they did not let the treatment they received affect their testimony’s or activity.

    Two of my other children had some isolated incidents but not to the bullying degree as the other two. One time we had a daughter who was having some issues with some boys in her seminary class. We counseled her to talk to her teacher about it and his response was “Boys will be boys.” I was livid and that is not acceptable. Our other daughter had closer friends who were non-members than members. She said that her non-member friends lived the gospel more than the members who were hypocrites. These member girls would spread rumors about her but then at church act like everything was fine. This daughter had a very strong sense of who she was and was very confident and it really did not affect her at all – thank heavens!

    Thank you for making others aware and thank you for sharing this wonderful video. As leaders that work with youth we need to be aware!

  • Lori March 7, 2014, 11:54 pm

    I grew up mormon my whole life and felt judged my entire life……I became pregnant in 8th grade and my entire family was ostracized….I left the church for most of my teenage years due to the poor treatment we received from the entire ward….no one was allowed to hang out with me and my family was condemned..Years later I married a man and he joined the church which brought me back as well. As my children grew and were old enough to go to scouts, young women, and etc they were met with better than thou attitudes and bullying from not only the kids but the adults as well. Finally, one of my children, who was confused about her sexuality and gender, was told she could not go to girls camp (during a camp meeting at her camp leaders home and after everyone was avoiding talking to her about camp) and she came home crying. The leaders later told the bishop that they were uncomfortable with my daughters gender/sexuality confusion and some of the moms had complained so they thought this would be best…they never once called to talk to me about this….my child is bi polar and was only 14 at the time….I was livid…after the way my other children had been treated in the past I was done with self righteous people judging my children and myself….I love God and I praise him daily.. I teach my children to love all people and let God be the judge…I have chosen to look outside the Mormon religion for support with my “challenged” children and have been met with love and support from parents, leaders, and the kids……I think that alot of Mormons forget the most important part of Christianity is being Christlike not believing that their temple marriage gives them privilege into heaven…standing in the garage does not make you a Christian anymore than simply going to church makes you a Christian….Many Mormons I have met would be well served to remember this simple statement…..I am still in search of truth in religion and for my heart to heal and forgive many leaders of this church for all the damage they perpetrated on my family….thanks for posting some real issues… its about time people started looking at the realities within a church that professes to be the restored true church of God here on earth…

  • Craig March 8, 2014, 1:37 am

    It’s hard for boys to admit they are picked on because when they do it just gets worse. Reading this brought up so many memories. I’m not Mormon but the same thing happened in my evangelical church. Everyone is all Jesus this and Jesus that and I love Jesus and I’m saved. And then the treat each other like dirt.

    I know that I’m not saved by works, but works have to matter for something.

    Thanks for telling your story.

  • Susie March 8, 2014, 2:01 am

    I moved a ton and was bullied and not bullied, as it frequently changed by moving and whatnot. In 7th and 8th grade, I probably went through the roughest patch–at school my younger sister and I were both kicked, shoved, threatened, etc at school by a bunch of Hispanic girls who were actually quite scary. (Our school definitely had some rougher elements.) And then at church our YW’s was quite divided, we had a bunch of girls who’s mothers were in YW leadership and the girls were all the cheerleader/ballet snobby types and they excluded everyone else, and their mothers did nothing. Then we had a bunch of random outcasts, for example one girl read Tom Clancy novels all through SS and YW’s each week, and another girl dressed goth, etc. I had a hard time there and was one of the outcasts, but the problem was mostly solved by going to my older sister’s SS class instead of my own, as SS was where most of the bullying took place (clueless teacher). I think that YW’s was rough on A LOT of girls, not just me, and maybe that helped me deal with it better. Plus, I generally got a long with all the other outcast girls to some extent. And I always had my sisters!
    The next year (9th grade) we moved to the middle of nowhere (300 students 7-12th grade, 70 kids in my grade and that was the biggest class). I was completely ostracized. No one spoke to me for months at a time other than to insult me. I didn’t see my younger sister as much, and my older sister had gone to college. Things were thrown at me constantly, and I was the constant butt of every joke. Really this should have been the harder year, but the kids were so stupid in their insults and not scary (like the Hispanic girls the years before) and so it really just made me more mad than anything else–I mean my self-esteem wasn’t affected as much as in the years before. And I was having a great time at YWs (in a different town–there were no other Mormons in my school except my sister and a girl that went out drinking every weekend.) In fact, it helped bolster my self esteem because I just told myself what idiots they were all the time. Anyway, I did stand up to them there a couple times, but it didn’t really change anything. Luckily we moved again at the end of the year and I had no problems through the rest of high school.

    So here’s my observations from that.
    (1) Weak and unobservant teachers without strict discipline always (unwittingly) foster the problem.
    (2) Telling the teachers never helped and only made the problem worse. (Hopefully that’s changed with increased awareness now.)
    (3) Moving is a blessing and a curse. 🙂 Yeah, I know, moving isn’t always an option. But if at all possible, I really do think that sometimes that’s the only way.
    (4) MOST importantly–I would never change my experience with bullying. That last year especially made me so much more assertive (I was very shy and quiet before that), and it also helped me not to care what others thought. I did what I WANTED to do through the rest of high school and had a grand time. I never cared about having or doing or acting like anyone else, or whether other people were judging me for it. I am grateful for that time, because it made me so much stronger. (That being said I couldn’t talk about being bullied without crying for a couple years after 9th grade. It’s not like you heal right away, I just chose to not let it determine my life.)

    On a side note, I read some people’s comments that they’d almost rather have their child be the bully rather than the bullied kid. Sorry, but I completely disagree. My oldest Beehive-age daughter has had issues with bullying a girl in YW’s this last year, and she has no empathy, no remorse, and continually denies any guilt, stating “It was just jokes, she just overly sensitive.” The other girl has since left the ward, her family was conveniently called to be branch missionaries elsewhere in our stake. We talked to her, punished her, made her apologize, and said if we EVER heard of the slightest bullying occurring again, that she would be homeschooled (her worst nightmare.) And she still maintains she never did anything wrong. (She took the girl’s phone and texted all her contacts saying, “I’m pregnant!” And that was just one incidence.) I’m really at a loss, because how do you teach empathy? To give some background though, my daughter’s adopted at an older age, was fairly severely neglected, and has reactive attachment disorder, and one of the key consequences of all of that if you read in adoption books, etc IS lack of empathy. She’s horribly selfish and only cares about being the top dog on the totem pole so to speak. We tried explaining that to the other girl’s parents while apologizing profusely for our daughter’s behavior, and while they were grateful we didn’t deny the problem (which many of the other parents did) they weren’t interested in explanations either. Sigh.

    Which on another note, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced bullying behavior in wards as an adult. I think many people are overly concerned about what other people say and do though. For instance, another mother whose daughter was involved in the bullying, told me she avoided coming to church for months because she felt so “judged” for what had happened and felt like everyone was talking about her. Umm, I think that was all in her head. Hardly anyone even knew about it outside the YW leaders and bishop and families involved. My daughter was the ringleader and nobody treated me any different. She also once told me that she felt her husband was excluded from other men in the ward because he hadn’t gone to BYU. Which again, I really don’t think is the case. If anything, I think the lines drawn in wards is often based on the ages of your kids, interests, and economic wealth–and not because people are snippity about it. My good friend and I hang out a lot because we have kids the same age and we have no money, unlike most of the people in the ward so when other mothers with kids our age get together to go do something that costs $ we don’t usually go because we simply can’t afford too. And my friend who thought people were judging her and excluding her husband, if she hadn’t had been my visiting teacher, I would have been daunted to invite them over, because they ARE very wealthy (holidays to France for the whole family) and we don’t even have a couch or seating in our living room, etc because we just are finally getting on our feet financially and it’s just not been a financial priority yet. It’s is slightly embarrassing not to have a place for guests to sit down though. And there’s a couple other families in the ward that go camping together quite a bit, because they all love camping. It’s not that they mean to exclude anyone, and would gladly let others join in, if they liked camping and wanted to go too. Anyway, I’ve lived all over the US and Canada, my kids have all been born in different states, and they hardest wards for me were richer LDS wards–but only because I let myself compare my wardrobe to theirs, etc. Not really their fault. Sorry for the long comment, I just wanted to reply to several different things I read here.

  • Jorgianna March 8, 2014, 4:01 am

    Thank you for your story. Sometimes I remember the bullying, I experienced in my life and I realize it did not stop in Jr. High. Though it did ease up a bit, I felt ostracized pretty much all my life. Family members, classmates and associates. I did not fit into anyone’s box of what was normal. So smart in some things, still clumsy and inept in others. Unsure of myself socially but confident in my talent and knowledge. Now I don’t care what others think about me. I just enjoy my life, my family and my faith, with or without approval. As a mother and Sunday School teacher I had no tolerance for bullying. And I pray, I did a good job, to teach my kids empathy. Thanks for this sight that made me reflect, forgive and repent.

  • Evan March 8, 2014, 4:37 am

    I’m in my 30’s and I recall being bullied by some of the young men when I was a deacon/teacher. I was ridiculed at church, school, and even my home. I had no safe harbor. It wasn’t until one day I did the only thing I knew bullies understood. At church when I was told by one of the young men “why don’t you just leave, no one wants you here at church anyway.” I mustered up the courage and took a hard swing and broke his nose. I then shouted “I’m here to stay.” I turned to the others who were egging him on and asked them if they had anything to say. They didn’t say a word. Understand that I’m not condoning violence as a means to an end, on the contrary. Most of the time these matters with bullies can be resolved peacefully. My situation was one where I had no other choice. At school I slammed a guy into a locker when he and his friends were making fun of me. After these incidents I was never picked on a gain, however when word got to my parents and bishop they did something I’ll never forget. They arranged for myself and the kid I punched to be in the teachers quorum presidency together. One of the man focuses we emphasized to the youth was Christs discourse on loving one another as he loves us. Never had a bully problem in my ward after that.

  • Cimmy March 8, 2014, 7:00 am

    I think we’re all losing sight of something important and necessary to this discussion. The gospel is true. The gospel is perfect. It’s the people who are flawed. Nobody understands this fact better than we, the bullied and outcast of the church, understand it. That doesn’t make the gospel any less true. Inspired and divinely directed prophets have spoken against bullying over and over again. I think that is the purpose of the latest Mormon message, to remind us that some of us have forgotten what it means to be Christian. However, we shouldn’t allow such stupidity drive us away from the truth. If ee do, the bullies win. Satan wins. Leaders are flawed. Members are flawed. But, the gospel is true and we are promised a great reward if we remain faithful, even if we are standing amidst the slings and arrows of our fellow members. Let us never forget that fact. God lives! Jesus is Christ! The gospel is true! Our father loves and supports us. It may not seem like it right now, but it’s true. Remember Job.
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  • Kathy March 8, 2014, 7:31 am

    Beautifully said Cimmy – and all very true. We all have at least one true friend when all others fail – our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • N` March 8, 2014, 9:03 am

    From about my first class in primary until I grew to well over 6 foot, I was bullied by kids at church darn near every week. Physical attacks, verbal assaults – all within earshot/eyesight of youth leaders (and three bishops) who ignored it. I remember yelling for help and was ignored. It never occurred to me to not go to church (would have solved a great many problems and recurring nightmares). I soon came to hate/distrust mormons and swore that if I ever had kids who were ever in similar situation(s), I would bring forth retribution the likes of which would cause shock and awe in Sodom and Gomorrah. I hope it never happens but I pity the fools who bully my kids.

  • Korbin March 8, 2014, 10:44 am

    Bullying and being sort of a outcast makes me stay away from church, the sad thing is though it’s the leaders doing the bullying, it’s because of what music I listen to when I’m not at church, or that’s just why I think it happens /:

  • AJ March 8, 2014, 11:25 am

    My heart breaks when I hear of stories and situations like these. Church is the one place that everyone should be able to go and feel welcomed. We may not necessarily be best friends with everyone, but we most certainly should never tear another down. I am sure everyone who reads this article knows someone in their family whether directly or indirectly that has been bullied. I come from a family of 7 children and I can tell you that all, but maybe 2 of those 7 were bullied. I know that growing up my parents told of the same things that this article addressed as well and nothing changed. When leaders or an adult were notified they would give the usual everyone needs to be nice to others talk to the whole group. Which of course did nothing because honestly the people doing the bullying did NOT care. At the age of 20 I was called into young womens. We began to have bullying issues toward one particular girl (exclusion is bullying) For my lesson of not being a bully I used the kind of actions I had seen as a direct example names and all. I thought for sure I would get phone calls that afternoon from parents. Amazingly enough I did not I could speculate on why, but we all know why because these girls were called on the carpet for their actions and someone told them directly it was wrong and it would stop. One thing I am learning fast as a Mom now is that I will no longer keep quite myself. My child and their spiritual development and eternal life is far more greater then the possibility of me upsetting the bully and their parents. Now I do not take this on alone for if I did then I would not be any better then the bully. No for me I do a great deal of fasting and praying so when I go I go with the Lord on my side with love in my heart. We can never be afraid to stand with the Lord.

  • Noelle March 8, 2014, 11:27 am

    I have read through almost all of these comments. I get the impression that in most cases the wards you speak of are in high LDS population areas where the kids often all go to church and school together and that hearing someone cussing is a huge shock to the system.

    LDS people have to live in the world and not cocoon themselves. If you do, you often lose sight of the fact that there is a world out there with many, many great and noble people in it. A world where perhaps the sense of ‘goodness’ that some families feel would be lessened by the fact that they experience being ‘different’ themselves every single day.

    I was afraid this post was going to fall back into the Sunday School answers of ”but the bully is a poor victim too and we mustn’t let them go at any cost.’ I agree that bullies are probably experiencing difficulties but very much enjoyed the prison analogy – if you want and need society (which you do) then you have to play by socially acceptable rules. ‘Go to another ward’ is not unique advice and I have known it doled out to battered wives – it is wrong and unsound in every conceivable way to punish the victim! The victim is often made to feel like the problem because we sometimes have a Utopian idea of what church is and someone saying, ‘Actually, people are doing bad things,’ is perceived as a troublemaker.

    Of all of the posts I thought the one suggesting sending the children to other more appropriate activities was best but also saddest. If the only people you ever meet in school, church and social activities are LDS then in my opinion your world is too small. However, the church and home should provide a refuge. Should there be anywhere else safer or more welcoming than the church apart from your own home?

    When I was growing up I was told if I was ever being bullied to hit out at the ringleader or the biggest in the group. Even if I got my clock cleaned it would be worth it just to show them I wasn’t afraid. And if I did it every time, they would soon get fed up. Is that good advice? I don’t know. But ‘taking it’ sure isn’t. But what bothers me is that even people here who have been bullied use language like ‘obvious target’, ‘natural target’, ‘easy target.’ In my opinion, there isn’t any such thing as a ‘target’ only a bully and to use that language suggests we too see people as ‘targets.’ I know it isn’t what you mean but still, how we use the language in this discussion matters.

    The idea of the policeman going into the Bishop to remind him of his responsibility was amazing and past due. If you refuse to acknowledge a sin (the first step of repentance is acknowledging) then you won’t overcome it. If you refuse to acknowledge a problem it will continue to grow until it overcomes you. And there’s the rub. Our Bishops are called of God – but they remain human and remain faulty – the calling does not provide immunity form sin or error and it does not provide ‘entitlement’ or the ‘assumption’ of the righteousness of the bearer of the calling nor to his family. To attempt to create an environment where the leaders are always right and can’t questioned is not only wrong but dangerous. If a victim doesn’t have a voice then the oppressors win. There is nothing more oppressive to a child than a bully. It gets into their every thought and clouds every good experience. It permeates every aspect of their lives and drains them of hope and confidence. It fills their days and their nights. To add the burden of how ‘they’ ‘should’ act to that load is unfair and wrong. It makes it their fault and it just isn’t! It is the duty – ought to be the privilege – of responsible adults to lift that burden from those young shoulders that are weighed down by a too great burden.

  • Ronnie March 8, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Just a few thoughts as I’ve read the article, and read most of the comments…
    1. I felt more comfortable at school than at church as a teen too. I haven’t ever really called it bullying, but I suppose it was. Especially Girls Camp. The first three years I went I cried every night. I’m not sure what’s every really “fun” about some of those pick-on-the-uncool-kids pranks, and every year I’ve gone to Girls Camp as a leader I’ve enforced a very strict “no pranks” policy. Maybe the girls would have just had fun with it, but I wasn’t taking the chance.
    2. Even as a youth, I don’t remember blaming the gospel or gospel teaching or even my leaders much for the bullying/exclusion (although as I got older, I realized that a few of the popular girls’ moms were in YW and didn’t do much about it). I just thought it was too bad that my best friends, not members of our faith, didn’t have much interest in hearing about the gospel when they saw how I was treated.
    3. I do now feel like a horrible leader. 🙁 Most of these comments discuss how leaders NEED to be more strict and better at taking a no-nonsense approach to bullying, that weak leaders are a lot of the problem. I was YW president for almost three years and had no problem pointing out their behavior and how they treated each other in pretty direct terms. It seemed to help at church, but of course, I can’t control them at school. I had a parent call me multiple times to complain that some of the YW were bullying her daughter at school (when they should be the ones looking out for the daughter!). I agreed, BUT had to remind the parent that I can’t do much about what the YW decide to do at school, I can only control how they act in my classes and activities. We only have about 25 youth in a high school of over 1200, so the LDS kids are in the minority.

    That being said, I’ve also taught early morning seminary and I don’t think I was as good about creating a safe space there. Having 12 very strong-willed teenage boys was not as easy for me to handle! I definitely tried to stop degrading/mean comments as soon as they left the boys’ mouths, but I guess I didn’t do enough to make sure it never happened! I heard that some pretty intense texts were sent back and forth by my seminary kids, and I addressed it as much as I felt I could. (And brought it up with parents, which wasn’t well received by some of them…) I know that most of the kids really felt like it was harmless teasing/flirting so we just talked about the fact that in a text people can read into those “funny” words and be affected so we need to watch it! Several boys apologized after that incident, but I don’t know if they changed! I am by nature a try-to-make-everyone-happy, don’t-rock-the-boat, avoid-confrontation kind of person so once I squelch the problem in the moment, I don’t take it much further. I also have this problem that most emotions come out of me combined with tears (I cry when I’m sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc) and I had to be careful not to let this happen in my class or I lost some respect of the kids (especially the boys).

    I guess I’m trying to say that I’m sure there are a lot of leaders out there like me – we don’t condone or ignore bullying behavior, but don’t always feel comfortable enough/strong enough to know how to fix the situation! We are volunteers, most of us are relatively untrained in matters like this, and we just worry and try and pray and hope that what we do say and do will help and not hurt the youth we love!

    I wish there was a perfect way to deal with this, having been on the receiving end and the leader end and probably being on the parent end soon (my oldest is 9). Christ’s example and teaching was all about loving one another without judgement, but unfortunately we all fall so short of this ideal! This article and the comments have brought up great points for me to consider as I strive to be more like Him and help my children do the same!

  • Kathleen March 8, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I was bullied for as far as I can remember, It might have started in Nursey school or primary school (not church but public school in England). It was horrible, my parents sent me to another primary schhol when they found out that it wasn’t only the kids but the teacher as well. But that didn’t help any either it just got worse. At the time I was a member of the Church of England and the kids would bully me on my way to church. When I was 11 I prayed and told the Lord that I knew I wouldn’t get beat up on my way to Church if he would find me the True Church. 3 weeks later I went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I didn’t get beat up. But I also knew in time that where as most people in church liked me even loved me there was a few who didn’t like me at all. Just the way they looked at me.
    But school was so hard because it wasn’t just 1 group of girls it was 3. I rember my parents told my oldest Sister to wait for me at the school bus stop, well the school bus load of kids got of the bus and came after us my Sister told me to run home and get me parents, those kids pulled out most of her hair and she was in bad shape when my parents got to her. The school never didnt anything to help and in fact It got worse for me because we told the school what was happening. It wasn’t just in school either. It was before school and after school as well. To tell the truth I was always scared to go to my classes if the teacher was late. I hated school
    Then our family moved and I had to take the public bus, So the first time Im not on the school bus, the kids came to the bus termainal looking for me and not finding me (the Lord procted me because even though they were looking straight at me they didnt see me). But it never let up until I was in my last year of high school.
    It was never the boys always the girls.
    1 time I was found unconscious by the cops because of the beating I got.
    1 or 2 people can not fight bullies. There was nothing I could do but take it. I try very hard not to think about it. But the film that on this Blog had mr crying as I remembed what was done to me. It was physcial and mental. I found that as long as I had the Book of Mormon in my hands no-0ne could touch me I was procted.
    But I do understand.

  • Kristy March 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience, and for taking a stand. What a blessing your story, and this video is and will be. My husband & I are they YM/YW presidents, and we already shared the video and talked about it Wednesday. Inspiring story. Thank you!

  • dpilot March 8, 2014, 4:17 pm

    Like all of the comments, I too am impressed with the quality and content of the video. I have a daughter who was not accepted into the girls clique of the ward when we moved in and as with many others, went inactive and has stayed away.

    I really think that this video, or one as powerful or more so, be incorporated somewhere in the youth programs, so that very LDS youth watches it annually. It is very easy to slide into this behavior and being proactive is one of the solutions.

  • pc brown March 8, 2014, 5:32 pm

    I am stunned that I have just stumbled across the video and underneath it, a link to your blog post…6.5 years? yikes. Late to the party isn’t the half of it. I am hoping that in those 6.5 years that things have gotten considerably better for your family, and your ward. No one should have to endure bullying.

    I have been in Primary for the majority of my adult life, and a few stints in YW and RS, and so, I have witnessed bullying there as well. Perhaps having been bullied as a kid makes me hyper vigilant, but in any case when I see it it sparks deep inside me those feelings of worthlessness, and I promised myself long ago I would stop it whenever I could. I have practiced the following technique over the years and it has worked very well for me. I have used it with Primary children, YW, and even sisters in the RS who still have the urge to exclude. The following is for Primary, but it adapts easily for the other ages. I hope this helps others.

    For me, I take the offender to a quiet place, where we can talk a few minutes alone. I usually find the praiseworthy things about the offender and point them out as blessings. I mention home life, parents, lifestyle, intelligence, etc. It is my experience that most instigators usually are pretty blessed individuals who are completely clueless about how deeply they are hurting someone.

    After the praise I begin to question them about their target, the “why?s” are part of it, but also comparing challenges of the two, blessings, etc. Usually the target has one small thing, hair colour, a disability, perhaps economics, or even a cute older sibling…it really doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I have found out that they themselves are being bullied by someone, if so, “How do *you* feel about that?” It is a stunning moment of realization.

    I point out how ridiculous the bullying is, I mean really – why target someone at all when you seem to have everything going your way in the first place? And if they aren’t as blessed, I point out that bullying won’t gather them any points and or friends…it’s kind of a lose lose activity. I have never had an instance where the bully has defended their actions after this point, they catch on very quickly how unfair and “loser-esque” this behaviour is.

    Once we have established the wrong, once they accept it and realize what they are really truly doing, they want to stop. So I help arrange a private meeting wherein they can apologize, often I have to encourage this, but I point out that this is part of the repentance steps, and they catch on.

    Then we also make a plan to break the habit. I help them find something in their future they are looking forward to, Scouts, YW, whatever. I ask them if they have ever been able to do something well the first time (riding a bike, math, etc.), they always tell me know, they had to practice. So I point out they will need to practice this as well, and that they only have xyz time until they receive the priesthood or go to camp for the first time, etc. I make a covenant with them, the two way promise works like this: I will help them without embarrassing them, and they will practice daily until they become a master of non-bullying behaviours. We make a “secret” code word and signal that I can say or flash/sign to them so if they slip up, they can recognize the signal and stop. So far I have had 100% success.

    I really do feel that 99% of bullies haven’t a clue that they are a bully, and once they do, they want to change for the better. Repentance is wonderful! Life changing! And when you witness the bully and the target getting along, life becomes very beautiful.

  • Debbie Fischer March 8, 2014, 11:35 pm

    My son is a lot like his father, kind-hearted, helpful and has a strong sense of right and wrong. He is 28 now and inactive due to bullying in our ward from his “peers”. There were several boys within his age group who had disabilities, one physical and one more psychological. My son was always helping the boy in a wheelchair on campouts, etc., and was always asking questions as to why the other boys would torment the other boy until he would lash out and an ” incident” happened. Then the bullies turned on my son. They made his life unbearable at church and several times we had to force him to go. I listened and encouraged him, but when they got older and the girls were involved it escalated. My son was diligent with his duties at church and was the Priest Quorum Advisor, but when he graduated from High School he had had enough of a church that all he felt was anger. We kept telling him that the Gospel was true despite some of it’s members. He told us he would not be serving a mission, and to this day professes to be an atheist. I keep having the same conversation with him about forgiveness and he just can’t get past it. So now, because of bullying my son’s salvation hangs in the balance. Those feelings of rejection and anger are too deep seeded. Oh so very sad. As a long time YW leader, I do not tolerate this behavior at all and I wish more leaders would take a stand. I actually had a girl one time say the ” F” word to my daughter and when she told a leader they told her that she should just suck it up because they didn’t want the other girl to stop coming. REALLY?! Get the Bishop’s help if you must, but if we don’t take a stand as leaders, why would we expect the kids to?

  • Gary B. March 9, 2014, 9:08 am

    It’s not just a LDS church problem. I’m became a LDS convert at age 26. The church I grew up in was no better than the situation you describe. The bullying at church was almost unbearable. I grew up in a church of about 200 people. All but three or four of the families were related. My family was one of the three or four. School was actually my santurary, I could disappear in the crowd and not feel like I HAD to be someone I was not. I grew to hate weekends and summer vacation. My point is that I think because of smaller and closer more interactive groups of people church, no matter your religion, can be more of an opportunity for bullying than school. Not always but it can be if we’re not careful and watchful. Church can and should be our sanctuary, second to our home of course.

  • Dawn March 9, 2014, 9:25 am

    In 9th grade, my father and I moved. I did not have a mother. (Divorce). I cried for months. I DID NOT WANT TO MOVE! But, had we stayed, I’d no longer be attending church 34 years later. Exclusion was the preferred bullying tactic, sideways looks, etc. I already did not want to go to church. And if it weren’t for a high school girl showing up and insisting I go, I probably would have stopped. And then my dad made me go to girl’s camp! Girl’s camp? I knew nothing about camping. But guess who I met? New girls in my new ward, who threw their arms around me and loved me! I’m not sure I knew I was loveable. Their mothers did the same thing. And 34 years later, I live in one of “those” families. It looks like perfection and most days it absolutely is. I’m so grateful. We need more parents and leaders to address it head on as you tried and the one leader finally did!

  • Fay Klingler March 9, 2014, 3:12 pm

    Wonderful article. Great video. Both of my new books deal with the problem of bullying. I’m sorry your daughter experienced that at church.
    Fay Klingler recently posted…Book Launch Announcement and Interview with Cathy LimMy Profile

  • LJ March 9, 2014, 3:12 pm

    Years after I moved away from the ward I grew up in, I was told by a former leader, “you ‘good girls’ were the worst clique in the ward. The other girls didn’t want to be around you because you thought you were so much better than they were, just because they didn’t come every Sunday.”
    This came as a complete and total shock to me. It’s bizarre being told what you think and why you behave(d) in a certain way by someone who has reached their own conclusions about you. I have tried to see things from their perspective and I can think of one instance at a Laurel’s high adventure camp that personally offended that leader, but I am still totally baffled by the implication that we excluded others deliberately. Yes, those of us that attended regularly sat together and were comfortable with each other. We were friends outside of church and spent a lot of time together, but never intended to exclude others and frankly didn’t think they’d give us the time of day.
    In a way, I feel bullied by being given the “bully” label. Is bullying real? Yes. Is the bully always aware of it? No. Do we always understand others’ motivation? Again, no. At the end of the day, I think that we just have to do the best we can and try to give others the benefit of the doubt then lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus and ask him to guide us and heal us.

  • George Andritsakis March 9, 2014, 5:02 pm

    I’m very grateful and glad to hear of Mormons getting picked on and bullied for once. Your kind has picked on us non-Mormons living in Utah since as long as I have been alive, and it led to 2 of my siblings committing suicide, and me to deal with the daily beatings and cruelty until I moved away for my career. Now, my 2 kids have to deal with it in school, and the only thing I can tell them, sice we live in Utah, is to just fight back. Thank you for showing your kind gets picked on as well. Makes the torture of living in Utah bearable.

  • Angie thompson March 9, 2014, 5:10 pm

    My 23yr old daughter went through an experience of bullying with someone who moved into the Ward. It started when they were around 9 and continues to this day when the bullying girl comes to visit. We tried talking to parents YW leaders, bishopric, school teachers, principals, and anyone else who we thought could help and nothing ever changed. We are just thankful that the girls have grown up and now they don’t have to see each other on a daily basis. We continue to pray for the bully and hope that she can someday realize the damage that she caused not only my daughter, but several others in our ward.

  • S.S March 9, 2014, 8:04 pm

    I hope BOTH children and adults watch the video, as it has a great message. Try being NON LDS in a highly LDS state and neighborhood. I thought the bullying and non inclusion would stop at adulthood, but it doesn’t. People here only want to talk to me when they are trying to get us to join the church. I refuse to join the church, just so I and my children can be included. We are thinking of moving out of state.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 9, 2014, 8:40 pm

    George Andritsakis, if I lived in a place that was “torture,” I’d stop living there. If I had two siblings who committed suicide BECAUSE of something and I had daily beatings because of it, I wouldn’t wait until I moved “for my career,” I’d get out of dodge long before that. More to the point, however, there’s no way I’d go back and raise my kids there.

    P.S. You know that Mormons had an extermination order put out on them, right? We’ve kind of had more than our share of being picked on.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Judging the Judgmental: Telling Women to Stop Thinking Is Not My Profile

  • Tiffani March 9, 2014, 9:36 pm

    I’m really glad things turned out for your daughter. I am so angry that the “mormon” girls are the ones that ruined my daughters life. The excluding, whispering behind her back, the talking loudly near her about a boy she liked and how they had gotten him to like them with out including my daughter in their conversations, telling all the LDS boys lies about my daughter and the list goes on and on. Seminary was pure torture, stake activities, school and camp were unbearable. We tried approaching the parents and they refused to even try to work it out. I would wonder if my daughter was depressed and was making things bigger than they were and then I saw for myself the way they treated her and I was in pure shock that they would act that way in front of me! Their sweet testimonies and obedient attitudes at activities were sickening. We had to remove our daughter from school, seminary and stake activities per advice from her therepist. After 4 years of this treatment my daughter now has lost her testimony, her desire to attend BYU and now has only non LDS friends who are real and not fake. It is so sad that the mormon girls are so terrible and that I no longer encourage her to make LDS friends and I am just terrified that she will not have a desire to date mormon boys either. I am so sad that she was not able to have the growing up I wanted her to have and all of this from two very bratty girls.

  • Amy March 9, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Every morning, I pray with my 11 years old daughter ,” Bless that (my daughter) can be kind to others, yet stand up for herself”’. She recently had an experience where she was surrounded by 12 members of a gang and she was physically threatened. She told me that the “Spirit told me not to move”. Of course when she got home, she was terrified as she told me the story. I immediately called the school counselor and then proceeded to go over to the ‘leader of the pack’ that surrounded her. I informed her parents what happened at school and then invited the offending girl over for dinner. Of course she refused, but the example that I was trying to set was to make her aware that I know where you live and I know where you sleep and no one is messing with my baby girl!! I have tried to give my girl self confidence. Meaning, only listen to the people’s opinions that you value. Like you mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, best friend. Who cares what random people at school think of you, let it bounce of and not stick!! Most importantly, get your kids to talk to you and let them know, good or bad, mom and dad got your back!

  • brenbren March 10, 2014, 7:38 am

    There were times in my life that I was out right bullied and so were my parents. In a ward where my brother was very rebellious and in trouble with the law. My father, although LDS, was not worthy to hold the priesthood. Parents would not allow their children to play with me because of the family I came from. I grew up hating my brother and father because I blamed them for the way I was treated. That aside, I have a comment about maybe why people don’t say anything when being bullied.
    When I was in high school I was 1 of only 4 girls in a math class. I was surrounded by boys. The boys would verbally sexually assault me. The teacher was very aware of what was going on and did nothing about it. So, I THINK I thought if it didn’t matter to the teacher, then it didn’t matter to any one. So, I kept it to myself. I am close to my sister and one day told her what was happening and she was so upset she told my parents. Who in turn took it to the principle and this is what they got, “Your daughter was asking for it because she was friendly and talkative to those boys.” They actually blamed me!
    Long story short, my parent’s stepped in and went to the plate and battled for me and I was eventually removed from the class. My mom asked me why I didn’t say anything to her and I had no answer. I honestly just didn’t know who to tell or how to make it stop. My young developing brain didn’t make the connection. I really think you have to teach your children exactly what to do in that situation, who to tell, what to say, how to say it, whatever. Because not ever adult is going to care or try and believe you.

  • Tracey March 10, 2014, 8:34 am

    My (then) 12-year old son was bullied at church by a Scout leader, not any of the youth. As a result, he hasn’t set food in a church for 4 years. It’s bad enough when it’s youth bullying their peers, but what about the leaders? Yes, this was mentioned to the Bishop, and no, no action was ever taken. We have since moved from this ward, yet my son continues to stay away from church. There needs to be a day of reckoning …

  • Kathy March 10, 2014, 9:23 am

    LJ – there are bullies of “commission” and bullies of “omission”. If you never went out of your way to include the other girls, repeatedly inviting them to join your group, even if they said no at first, then just sitting passively by in your zone with the friends you felt comfortable with, then I’d say you were indeed, by your lack of “intentional inclusion”, “intentionally excluding” others. In this church, it’s “every member a missionary” and that includes retention of ALL of our members and not just looking for new recruits. We have to take care of each other! The Lord puts us in wards together so we can help each other, whether we end up best friends or not, and the “regular” attenders have an even greater responsibility to make the less “regulars” feel included, no matter how often they come or not. We each have a responsibility to do that. Most less actives, are inactive, because they don’t have a friend who will invite them to sit with them. If they seem aloof, it’s likely self-preservation from past hurt! Simply abstaining from outright bullying does not meet the standard Christ expects from us. Remember he left the 99 and went after the 1.

    I am a perfectly active 50 year old Primary President in a ward I’ve lived in for almost 3 years. Recently, I took my 12 year old daughter with me to a Mother/Daughter Relief Society dinner. We snuck in a minute or two before the prayer and hoped to just sit quietly and quickly down. We saw a table with 2 open spots and asked if we could sit. We were turned away, as those seats were being “saved” for someone else, and made an attempt at 2 more tables, with the same result! We finally found an empty table, then sat there alone. Eventually, others came and sat with us, but I have never felt so un-welcomed in my life, and ached for my daughter, as we watched the squeals and hugs between other girls as they came late. No one was squealing and waving my daughter or I to come over to sit by them! I practice the rule that any seat next to me will always be open for whoever comes for it, and not only that, I now actively “wave” other people over to sit by me.

    In the Relief Society room in my Mother’s ward in Canada – a plaque reads: “Thou shalt never sit alone”, which reminds us all to “make room” for each other! It should be standard in all rooms in all churches across the world.

  • Amanda Tesch March 10, 2014, 9:27 am

    I saw this video last week and it has made a huge impact on me. I am so sorry for what you and your daughter went through. This video is powerful and its so inspiring to hear the back story. Thank you for your inspired words!

  • Old As Dirtd March 10, 2014, 10:59 am

    As East of Eden pointed out, it isn’t just the children that get bullied and treated badly. I have also been openly treated lousy in RS at one Ward. Then, when we moved and retired we were in a very small Branch that was Heaven on Earth. Then the Branch was closed and the members were parted out to various Wards. The new Ward was, and still is, the worst of the worst. It wasn’t just the members in general, it was as if the Bishop was the leader of the gang. It just happened that I paid my tithing quarterly, and when I went to pay my tithing and renew my recommend I was told to go to someone else, by the Bishop ~ There must be someone else out there you can see. I was crushed. I attended about three more times, being treated terribly by the other members. Amazing how cruel some women can be. My DH had passed on and I was now alone in every sense of the word. When the Bishop was replaced I was over joyed, now I could go back to Church. I bought new Church clothing and went back to attending meetings. Nothing had changed. One woman actually walked up to me and asked “What are you doing here?!” I’m no longer attempting to attend Church. The Lord knows what is in my heart and understands I can no longer take the abuse that is now causing physical problems. Even after all the Devil has thrown at our family, my testimony has never waivered and never will.

  • Steve Frahm March 10, 2014, 11:14 am

    Thank you for your blog, your comments, and for sharing your difficult story. Bullying in the church is difficult to read about, difficult to imagine that it is happening, difficult to recognize it when it does happen, and completely intolerable. Church should always be a place of emotional safety for everyone. Thank you for raising my sensitivity to a problem.

  • Old as Dirtdo March 10, 2014, 11:38 am

    Having gone back and read several new posts I remembered an incident I think I handled quite well. One of my neighbors was pregnant and having a difficult time. She asked me to work her job, at a day care, until she could return to work. I said ok. There was a young girl there that was being excluded from all the activities, by both the boys and girls. She was born with a physical and mental problem, but such a sweetheart. I was working the very early shift, so it was just me and the kids. One morning I called all the young girls to the reception area and explained that they really needed to “friend” this young girl. I explained to them that they had such wonderful opportunities in their future ~ they would marry and have children of their own, et cetera. I really poured it on. Then I told them that the young girl they were excluding would have none of those blessings in her future and how much she needed their friendship. Then I sent them back to the main room and called in the boys. I again went over the topics with the boys. Both groups were crying when I sent them back to the main room. I knew I had made a difference in their lives, but would it carry through to the young girl and make it different for her? I got my answer when I was there for my last day. We were moving out of state. That last morning, when the father of the young girl brought her to day care, she handed me a single long stem rose. Her father thanked me for being there for his daughter. The talk I’d had with the young children had made a difference in her life. They had included her in all of their activities after that day. Today, some 30 years later, I wonder how her life turned out and pray that the children continued to include her in their lives.

  • Melissa Hudson March 10, 2014, 1:53 pm

    I want to thank you so much for bringing all of this out into the open. I’m not sure people understand how big of a problem this is and how completely unacceptable this type of behavior is. I just became a leader in our ward’s Young Women’s and as far as I can see, the girls treat each other with great kindness, but today as I was helping a young man with a music recital, I learned that he has been the brunt of mean jokes and crippling exclusion. I told him that I won’t stand for it and that I would be his advocate to make change. While he and I were talking, I asked if it would be helpful to have an activity or fireside dedicated to bullying and exclusion. His face lit up in a way I haven’t seen before and he animatedly said, “Yes! Please let’s do that”. I have to run it by the Presidents of the YM and YW, but I was wondering if maybe you and perhaps also your daughter might be willing to come and say something to our youth on the subject? I would love to talk further on this with you. Please send me an email at Lissyjospunk06@gmail.com and I can give you further contact info. We are in Tooele, UT. If nothing else, thank you for this blog and the video. I know that it can change people for good.


  • LJ March 10, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Of course I understand the necessity of deliberate inclusion NOW. I just think it’s harsh to criticize someone years later for doing the best they knew at the time.
    I definitely agree that we should go out of our way to include everyone. My favorite response to the question, “Is this seat saved?” is “saved for YOU.” 🙂

  • Kathy March 10, 2014, 3:41 pm

    LJ – isn’t it great to look back on past mistakes and recognize and learn from them. I’m so glad you’re one who has done that. Sadly, there are still many adults who haven’t, who still stick within their comfort zones, invite their regular friends for dinner, and never reach out to those who need a friend at church as badly as the youth do. I do love the “Yes, this seat is saved for you!” idea – thanks for reminding me to add that to my repertoire.

    Another thing I have learned to do in my adult hood – I have a few less active families around me, and rather than borrow (eggs, sugar, root-tillers) from my comfortable friends, I see this as one neighborly way to make contact with people less familiar to me, to let them know I am a safe friend for them too. We all need a friend at church, no matter how old we get.

  • Shawn March 10, 2014, 5:06 pm

    Amen and amen… we’ve dealt with these issues in our family… our child being bullied… by adult who were leaders in the youth program…they should have known better and have no excuse. They have since apologized but the pain is still very real and my stomach turns over every time I see them.

  • David March 10, 2014, 5:24 pm

    My daughter has quit after years of bullying by other girls. I tried to resolve it the church way, through channels, but everyone seemed to feel sorry for the bullies. I would always hear “Well, they have problems at home” ETC, ETC. I grew up in an abusive home, and I am not an abuser. I am so tired of church leaders who feel sorry for abusers.
    In my son’s case, he was actually bullied at a youth conference by three sons of prominent stake and ward leaders. My older son was bullied out of the scout program. He went to his first scout camp, and never went back to scouts afterward.
    Finally my daughter had enough and started fighting back, not for herself but for her friends. Our wonderful, “inspired” YW president decided to defend one of the bullies, even going so far as to call her “Her daughter”. I’m supposed to SUSTAIN this?????

    You know, there are groups that go around schools specifically dealing with this stuff. They talk to the kids and the parents about what bullying is, and how to deal with it. It would be a good tool for ward leaders to use.

  • s March 10, 2014, 6:57 pm

    I am so proud of you for writing this – I have never had the courage. And now we are struggling again with with my kids- It’s easier to have courage for my kids, but a am still working on it.

  • Phil H March 10, 2014, 9:19 pm

    This really resonates with me. The worst bully I ever had was the worst because he could follow me everywhere: School, church, and Boy Scouts. He seemed to be out to make every aspect of my life an absolute Hell on Earth. On occasion, he would apologize, usually with a grown-up standing authoritatively behind him, but the very next week, he’d go back to doing the same crap. The worst part? Whenever he was tormenting me and I looked in his eyes, the look on his face wasn’t one of intimidation or rage. It was /glee/, pure and unadulterated. That was the worst part. He LOVED what he did, and that’s why I could never sincerely accept his “apologies”. He thought he was the coolest guy ever for smacking around a kid half his size.

    He was also involved at church in a deplorable, blasphemous incident in which he and several of the other boys from my class, during a week when our teacher was out of town, went outside and took turns throwing a soccer ball at me, and whoever hit me in the head had to read a verse from the scriptures. The only adult who seemed to care about it at all was my dad, who relentlessly pressured our bishop to do something about it. None of the boys were punished because one of them had a mother who worked fifty hours a week and a father who was a drug addict, and repeatedly in and out of the correctional system, so for some reason he didn’t need discipline. Still, that doesn’t explain why almost nothing ever happened to my primary tormentor. “He’s such a good boy!” all the grownups would say whenever I complained about his behavior.

    While it’s great that the Church is taking a stand against bullying now, I just can’t help but feel that it’s too little, too late.

  • Lisa S March 10, 2014, 9:53 pm

    I was bullied in my ward from the about 8th grade on…..right when a new family of 3 girls moved in…it was awful….I would come to church and hear about the parties and events of which I wasn’t invited. Somehow I stayed…I had a testimony and knew I needed to be a church…I even endured bulling from my own brother at home…he being 5 years older.What gets me though is leaders had to know….your story just infuriates me. I have yet to serve in YW. If I ever do I will never leave the girls to their own devices, assuming that they are just ‘teasing. I always acknowledge the youth in my ward so they don’t feel invisible. I learned that from my dad. ‘

  • Guest March 10, 2014, 11:49 pm

    I grew up out of state. When I was bullied it was not by fellow church members. I can see how that would be even harder to deal with and see. I now live in Utah… Eagle Mountain as well, and have 4 children. (Maybe more soon) This article scares me and I hope the best for my Chilrdren! I do tend to be the impulsive direct type so I would be scared I would offend somebody or something but I will do my best to raise good kids who seek out those that are bullied and comfort them. I appreciate this article… and I hope that this Bob stumbles upon your post and maybe extends an apology? Its possible…

    I really am so sorry you had to grow up with this. The video was beautiful and your daughter did a great job. Very touching. I love what the church is doing and making these videos. It helps immensely to personalize the messages

    thats my 2 cents 🙂

  • Dianna March 11, 2014, 5:13 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a convert to the church and was baptized in 2006 and never would have guessed that there would ever be bullying in church. I have served in YW in some way or another whether it was for YW camp or more recently as a YW secretary over personal progress and have yet to witness anything like that and when anything happened that came even close to bullying we addressed it. I was bullied as a kid growing up in New England and the only kids that I could count on to be nice to me all the time were the “Mormon” kids in my school. I don’t know maybe it’s because of my experience as a child and as a bus driver and my training about bullying but I do not tolerate children being mean to each other. I had one situation where one of the kids came up to me and said that one of the girls was upset with her and won’t talk to her and I said what did you do to upset her? She told me that she had teased her. I said that this girl gets bullied at school and maybe you should go out of your way to be nice to her. Say you are sorry and then she will forgive you and you can be friends again. So the girl being a good girl went and did as I advised and they have been friends ever since.

  • April Allred March 11, 2014, 9:23 am

    This was the reason I left the Mormon church. I was bullied and I decided I didn’t have to be around “those people” anymore. I still have issues attending church. Even a simply Christian congregation I wonder what other mothers are saying about me. I to this day refuse to attend church. It hurts my feelings. I have a daughter and I’m scared for her!!

  • Christi March 11, 2014, 10:03 am

    I don’t know why, but I’ve always been really sensitive about bullying. I was lucky and never a target (once a boy I thought was cute made a rude comment and I still remember EXACTLY how I felt and everything). I wasn’t a popular kid, but I wasn’t the outcast. However, I had a NEED to protect others if I ever saw them being picked on.

    In 5th grade there was a girl, Victoria, who was being bullied by another girl. The bully would get an audience and tease her about her clothes. I still remember her asking, “Where did you get your clothes? I need to make sure I never go to THAT vending machine!” I don’t know if Victoria came from a poor family or if her clothes were just something that the bully targeted at the time. I didn’t really care about clothes, so I honestly don’t know. Anyhow, I befriended Victoria and brought a tape recorder with me to school. I recorded the bully and brought the tape to the principal. I don’t know what happened after that. Victoria was my friend the rest of the year. She came to my house a few times, but I think she moved soon after. I don’t remember seeing her after that. I have always wondered about her. I hope everything turned out ok and she was happy wherever she ended up. Funny thing is that the bully was assigned a seat next to me the following year. I had the hardest time even looking at her in the beginning because I was so angry at her. What do you know?? We became best friends. She is still one of my best friends to this day (almost 30 years later). I don’t know if she was going through a rough patch herself at the time because I can’t imagine her ever treating someone like I saw her doing then. She is the nicest person now (and was from that time onward).

    Another girl being bullied in 6th grade that I befriended is still one of my best friends. Her mother was killed and she and her brother were adopted by their aunt. I didn’t know that at the time… but she was behaving oddly at school. I think it was a cry for attention. She’d bring an empty dog leash and collar and it was her “pet”. She’d walk it around the playground and everything. The other kids started in on her and I just HAD to befriend her. I’m so glad I did. She is a wonderful person and I love her!

    But really, because I couldn’t ignore bullies I noticed it a lot. I am terrified of one of my girls being bullied (or being a bully). My oldest is only 6 and I’ve tried to talk to her about it, but I don’t know what to say. She doesn’t understand and I don’t know how to explain it properly. Especially since I’m not really sure WHY I was so protective of the bullied. She is such an emotional child. Her feelings get hurt very easily. I’m afraid if she was ever targeted it would really do a number on her. Any advice on how to teach such young children about bullying? I think it’s best if they know about it before it’s a problem…

  • jennycherie March 11, 2014, 3:16 pm

    It makes me so sad to read of SO many who have left the church over bullying and related social problems. If there are bullies in church, we must fix that problem. The problem is the bullies, not the DOCTRINE. Bullying is not in any way related to the truthfulness of the gospel. Bullying (and all the things that are similar in nature – unfriendliness, rudeness, excluding others, etc.) is wrong and is something that should be stopped immediately but is not in any way related to whether or not this is the Church of Jesus Christ. If there are wards that ignore or allow this behavior, that is a problem that must be addressed – if the bishop won’t help, try the stake president and so on up the chain. If we leave every good place where we have a conflict or a problem, soon, the bullies of the world will take over. If I leave church over this type of problem, that only solves my immediate problem – but the bully will continue to inflict him/herself on other people.
    jennycherie recently posted…RHS Band Marches at UCM HomecomingMy Profile

  • Mormon Mom March 11, 2014, 10:58 pm

    I lost my daughter from the church due to similar bullying. She is 27 now with a daughter of her own & no plans to return to church…ever. At the time, I confronted the parents quite forcefully & even wrote the ring-leader a letter, but to no avail. Leaders did nothing, because my daughter began to mix with the wrong crowd & engage in risky & sinful activities. The kids did not ‘grow out of it’, even as young adults, for the few times my daughter joined in an activity for something like a missionary farewell of a friend who did not join the bullying. I have learned to wait upon the Lord.

  • Renate March 11, 2014, 11:00 pm

    Thank you!!! I was terrorized for four years by girls who purported to be my best friends. They were the bishop’s twin daughters and they would threaten me w butcher’s knives moles me etc. My family has a history of being emotionally abusive so I had nowhere to turn. I’ve been in therapy on and off for approx. 15 years currently to deal w my brother’s suicide. It outrages me that we are only now realizing the damage bullying can do.

  • Eileen March 12, 2014, 10:25 am

    Hey, I just wanted to throw in a good story…I was picked on by this guy in our ward youth group–the frustrating thing was that all our friends just ignored it–no one stood up for me. I hated it but I didn’t know what to do. Everyone else liked him. We all went to college the same year and when we came back over the summer I met him at a ward activity. By then bigger things were happening in my life and I had moved on, but he came up to me and apologized for the way he’d treated me. I was so stunned that I just smiled and told it was okay, but he said, no, it wasn’t and that he was really sorry. It did a world of good and I’ve always remembered how VALIDATED i felt. Something about the other person admitting it makes such a difference. So…good things can happen.

    Later we moved to a ward where the kids excluded mine and I really feel like my two boys dropped out of the church because of it. My girls weathered the storm better, but it was hard watching it unfold.

    I will say that we should never underestimate the our own ability to help someone else stand strong. We can’t always fight the darkness but we can be the light. And anyone willing to unconditionally and accept and love others is always needed.

    Free agency–a terrible, beautiful thing!

  • Lynn March 13, 2014, 3:06 pm

    My son was also bullied, teased, and picked on in scouts. He was socially backwards and I didn’t find out until he was in his mid 20’s that he is likely a high functioning autistic.

    One day I was dropping him off for scouts and the other boys came running out and jumping into their leader’s car. When my son went over to get in, they locked all the doors and wouldn’t let him in. It was heartbreaking.

    I spoke to the scoutmaster and asked if he could do something to get the boys to treat my son better. He implied that it was my son’s fault because he wasn’t friendly and outgoing enough. I was so upset after talking to this supposed “leader” that I quit going to church and I never made my son attend any church or scout function again.

  • Gail March 14, 2014, 5:55 am

    First off we need to separate the CHRUCH from THE GOSPEL. What we are talking about here is a church issue and a lack of living the teachings of the gospel. Thusly the ability to be true followers of Christ.

    I was bullied, was the daughter of the stake president, have a dual disability, was less active for years but did serve a mission. I can tell you from experience that like others who have posted this is real. The fact is that enough isn’t being done.

    I too am angered by many things. I’m going to finish this post with these comments:
    I’m a therapist and I would have to say that to reach parents who don’t understand you must not only confront the issue head on but also offer them the chance to gain insight. Without insigght into the issue people cannot change. Unfortunately there are those walking this planet who will never be able to gain insight. Without insight change can’t happen.
    I would have ended that church video differently. The fact is that bullying is like gossip. Once you start it spreads to the four winds and you can’t gather up the damage it causes. That is the sad truth.

  • Molly March 14, 2014, 7:28 am

    My sweet, shy, cute brother was bullied at church too. My mom tried so hard to get it to top but the parents never would believe her. I wish a leader or bishop would have stepped up and made it stop or at least helped my mom let the parents know it was happening and not being made up.

  • Strong No Matter What! March 14, 2014, 10:37 am

    Years ago, two of my sons were recipients of bullying at church (from adults and peers). To both my boys, I told them that we follow Christ… no matter what. We attended church every Sunday, they graduated from Seminary, they served missions, and are active members of the Church and successful college students. Whenever they come home to visit… they attend Sacrament Meeting and then immediately go home. The pain is still very real for them… I respect that. I’m also very proud that they still follow Christ and I have faith that they always will. It’s up to each of us to make our wards and branches better places.

  • JoAnn Blackburn March 17, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Your article struck a nerve. My husband and I are retiring, and there are certain places I just won’t consider because of the bullying my siblings and I endured as children and teenagers. I may be a bad mother for this, I know my children’s gentleness was damaged, and I sort of regret that, but I taught them to be witty and sarcastic. I also worked hard to build them into emotional fortresses and mold them into a team. “If you want to be my friend, you have to be nice to my siblings.” I remember one day my daughter was asked to be part of the “sosh” group that ate lunch on the prime real estate on the quad, but she would have to ditch certain old friends who didn’t measure up. She said, “Don’t do me any favors.” I did a dance. When I was counseling her about her language, and said to her “Not very attractive to my way of thinking, she said, “I didn’t come into this world to be attractive to you.” I had to laugh my head off. It worked. She later confronted the girls bullying the young women leaders, and told them to back off, and it worked! I am so proud of fortress Miriam. She later walked into a class of very unruly 6th graders and in two weeks had them eating out of her hand. She learned empathy, too, and she never, never gossips. The young women lessons are good, if we just listen. But I’m still not retiring anywhere in Utah Valley. I’m too sarcastic.

  • Kathy March 18, 2014, 6:03 am

    I like your attitude Joanne. Sometimes you just gotta fight fire with fire! I live in Utah County, and I’d love you to be my neighbor. It is possible to be sarcastic and still live here. You just begin to attract like minded people.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 18, 2014, 12:58 pm

    JoAnn Blackburn, I dare you to match me sacrasm for sarcasm. 🙂 And I live smack dab in Utah County! 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Top 10 Things More Fun Than Watching SOTUMy Profile

  • Nicole McDougal March 19, 2014, 6:24 pm

    Those who knew me when I was a young teenager may think I was mean. After all, the bullies I was constantly trying to push back down were very popular and well-liked, especially by other fellow boys. Even some of the girls they taunted and bullied liked them because they were “cute” and oh so popular. I stood up to them because I knew and loved kids like the little girl in this article. I wasn’t ever the one directly bullied; I was too strong-willed and sometimes even “scary” to be bullied. But I can tell you I was pretty lonely and wondered why the other leaders not only allowed this to happen but seemed to condone it. They even seemed to resent me for causing ripples… in a way, the leaders tried to bully me. But I never backed down and I never stopped fighting the bullying- even when the mother of these bullies physically and verbally accosted me, I demanded she teach her boys the meaning of the word “bigot”.

    Please don’t let bullying happen! Don’t assume that the child is just joking! Bullying hurts SO much more than you could possibly imagine. I was a child. And I had to wonder, “Why are they receiving the Priesthood when they do what they do?” and “Why does the Bishop love them so much and ignores me and all the other girls in this ward?”. My testimony grew out of that kind of hardship and I can tell you it is very strong now. I have an understanding of the Priesthood that can never be harmed by any unintelligent boy who may happen to hold the “office”. But I also know other women who were never able to gain the understanding that I now have and still suffer the effects of what they witnessed in their youth. Bullying and stupidity unchecked like this set them on a course of confusion, bitterness and anger. We have to be so careful and loving with children. Reading this article below brought back so many of those painful feelings I had when I was young. I just cried. All I can do is beg for others to be more aware and more loving. Don’t let this happen to any child!

  • Maren R March 21, 2014, 11:34 am

    Not all bullying happens to youth, although the 5 of us kids in our family were all targeted & bullied throughout our growing up by the other kids in the ward.
    No, on our wedding day, in the Bride’s Room at the temple, I was bullied by a temple worker.
    I was 37 and getting ready in front of the mirror while a friend tried to do my hair. The worker behind me loudly told another worker “This room is for First Time Brides, not older repeats”.
    I sat unmoving in shock & seethed as my friend tried to curl my hair. I just wanted to Leave.
    When the bride near me left, I turned on the worker and told her 1) I had never been married, nor had my soon-to-be husband, 2) even if I had, this was the House of The Lord and we were marrying with His blessing, & 3) how dare she hurt people or spread discord while in the temple, especially to brides?
    Yeah, I went there.
    She huffed out, a supervisor came in and I told her all about it as calmly as I could. The only things that kept me from crying were that I was inside the temple, & that my fair skin would’ve stayed blotchy for the next 2hrs if I’d cried.
    The supervisor was very sweet and kept that woman away from me and all the other brides that day. Don’t know what happened after that though.

  • Kathy April 3, 2014, 5:02 pm

    Alison – When I was in HS I made some choices that brought me under condemnation from some of my seminary “peers”, all “righteous” young men who felt the need to judge me based on rumors they heard. While at school or seminary, there was a particular boy brave enough to be “spokesman” for the group (we’ll call him “Bob” too) who would whisper nasty, derogatory names to me, out the side of his mouth as I’d walk by his desk to sharpen my pencil, etc.. While I hated him for his treatment of me, based only on rumor not anything I had done to him personally, I chose to ignore it, got busy in the Student Council and tried to change the perception of the boys of that group toward me.

    Life went on – I went to Ricks College, got married in the Temple, had a baby and settled into a nice little house in a nice ward. After a year or two – guess who moved into my ward? You guessed it – Bob. And while all those feelings of hate were stirred up in me again, (I could hardly look in his direction without scowling and feeling sick to my stomach) I came to know his lovely, sweet little wife who I quite liked and thought he didn’t deserve her for a single minute. Then they called him to be our Home Teacher. (Ha! Gotta love it when Karma kicks in!) I told my husband about the mud Bob used to fling at me in HS, and said I did not want that little creep to step foot inside my house for any reason, ever! My husband persuaded me not to make a stink, or ask for a different Home Teacher, which I reluctantly went along with. So when Bob came to my house, I decided the best revenge would have been to be gracious to him as a guest in my house. He never apologized for his treatment of me, but I could tell he was squirming in his seat (or maybe I was just hoping he was) whenever he came over. Either he was too cowardly to admit he had ever been ugly to me, or too shallow to know he had. Either way, I felt by being kind to him gave me an advantage in some way, making me come out the “victor” at least in the eyes of my Savior.

  • Kim April 3, 2014, 7:05 pm

    I think being kind to “Bob” even when he’s treated you ill is the first step. To really be the “victor”; however, I believe you need to fully apply the atonement to the situation. To be able to have a conversation with “Bob” as an adult and explain the pain he caused you will truly allow you to heal and really be the “victor” in allowing him the opportunity to apologize and repent.

    I understand that this is a very difficult thing to do, but I know it can be done. All things are possible when done with Jesus Christ as your partner!

  • Kathy April 4, 2014, 11:05 am

    I completely agree about the atonement and rest assured, I have applied it in this case. Looking back, it may have brought healing sooner if I had confronted him – it’s been 20 years since he was called to be our home teacher and we have since moved out of the country, so chances are slim I’ll ever be in a position to call him out on it. I don’t even remember his name. Though your blog brought the incident to my memory, I made peace with it long ago – forgiven his youthful immaturity, and decided a guy can’t be all bad who convinced such a sweet wife to marry him, or at least faith that she’d have the ability to soften his heart and “repent” by changing his actions in the future. Either way, I can’t control what’s in his heart and I guess I didn’t choose to try. The Lord knew what he had done, and I’m sure his getting called to Home Teach us was no accident, but the Lord giving him an opportunity to make amends in some way. I jokingly called it Karma, I think it was really “justice” instigated by the Divine powers that be. 😉

    I only share my story as a warning to Young Men and Women of the church, to be careful how they treat others within the church. You never know – you may be called to a position of having to serve that person, and you won’t want past issues to hinder you from feeling completely comfortable doing it.

  • Debra June 7, 2014, 2:54 pm

    Allow me to quote from For the Strength of Youth: “Choose not to insult others or put them down, even in joking.” As a youth I took this line from that pamphlet very seriously, and didn’t understand why others didn’t.

    I think light teasing amongst close and open friends can actually be useful to help us improve and keep us humble, but I don’t think it should be done amongst acquaintances.

  • vanessa July 24, 2014, 6:31 pm


    I live in Canada I am a member of the church and I have two girls that are also members. My daughters have been cyberbullied by two teenage boys that are member and their families have been in the church for at least two generation. The parents saw the writing that the boys wrote and when I approached the Bishop, he made the comment that boys will be boys.

    The harassment has not stopped if my girls go to church activities, the boy’s laugh point and make rude jokes. They follow my daughters around the church, they are still making comments to other church members and are still writing things on line.

    My fourteen year old daughter has been suicidal because of these boys and the province of Manitoba doesn’t have laws to protect my daughters. Church members just brush it off, including the leaders.

    Who can I contact in the church, regarding this matter . Who in Utah will care ?? I will not let my girls go to church and quite frankly I am at the point of never letting them go back again, and I refuse to go back because of the fact that the church members allow this behaviour.

    The family that these boy’s come from are treated as if they are untouchable, that because they where born in the church they are better than any one else. I am ready to advertise it in the newspaper here and in Utah just so that the news gets out. My girls aren’t the only girls these boys have chased away.

    Please feel free to send my email, to other members of the church. At this point the more people that get it the better. I would appreciate any and all help you can offer me.

    Vanessa Hoffman

  • Maren Ruesch July 24, 2014, 10:54 pm

    Vanessa Hoffman—
    So sorry your family is going through this harassment! No, it’s Not okay.
    Contact the Stake President by a written letter, copy the bishop, and give a detailed account of what has happened/ continues to happen. Tell how this permitted behavior is driving your family from the church– that ought to get some attention.
    Send a copy to the Area Authority.
    He might not do anything until the Stk Pres does something, but he’ll be aware of it.
    And. the next time these boys are presented for priesthood advancement, be brave and raise your hand Against. They are Not worthy of being the Lord’s representatives the way they treat others.
    Same goes if he’s going for Eagle Scout: Write a letter to the local Council, give his name and the Troop #. They will Not let it pass without a review, I promise you! (my hubby has served on Eagle board of reviews)
    FINALLY, being a convert to the church makes you a Better member in our eyes (both RMs): you Choose to join, the rest of us were born into it & blythly accepted teachings until our own testimonies grew. YOU took a huge leap of faith. Never let anyone put you down for that, Ever!!!
    Love & hugs from So.California,
    Maren & Brian

  • SF September 3, 2014, 3:47 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. And, frankly, too many Mormons want to stick their heads int he sand rather than deal with the real issues we are dealing with.

    You’ll probably get more pushback from fools, but ignore it. This is an evil we can fight — but only if we know what it is.

    I think your image gives us a FEEL for the problem without sticking the whole thing in our faces. And for those of you who think the image is bad, that’s because you haven’t seen the REAL commercials. Pull your heads out so we can actually stop this kind of thing.
    SF recently posted…Spanish FlyMy Profile

  • April May February 7, 2015, 3:47 am

    I need some advice. I have always been bullied by others in my ward and well it was unbearable at times. However, I made it through. But Now I am 25 years old and in a YSA ward in Utah where I just learned that one of the Sunday School Teacher’s is being bullied. IN A YSA WARD (He is 30 years old and being bullied by ward members). He has been receiving texts from an unknown number. These texts tell him that there is a group of people that do not want him at church. That he teaches with the Spirit of the Devil. That he should not come to church because he is trying to lead the ward into apostasy. (He teaches the Temple Prep and Family History Sunday School Classes.) When he doesn’t come he gets a text thanking him saying that because he was not there the Spirit was actually able to be there. The Bishop has been informed but says that there is nothing that can be done because there is not threat of bodily harm (yet). I know there is something that can be done I just don’t know what it is.

    I like you expected to be bullied anywhere in the world but Church. Now the bulling problem is not just with children but now adults. Any Ideas of what can be done. I know that there is something. There is nothing more damaging that Spiritual Torture.

  • Kathy February 7, 2015, 10:12 am

    April May
    YSA wards are not permanent, long term wards. People come and go quickly, so it’s likely that the ward bully will move on soon. But that won’t stop him/her from spreading toxins in the next ward. I’d advise your Sunday School Teacher friend to get up next fast & testimony meeting (and each month for as long as it takes) to bear a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the love of the Savior, and tell his current bully story to the ward. Then invite the bully (or anyone with information about who it might be) to address him sometime in person, in the neutral Bishop’s office (so he has a witness), rather than anonymously and in a dangerously private location. If the bully never comes forward but continues to harass – he needs to block his and any other anonymous numbers coming through his cell phone.

    If he opens up to the congregation about the treatment he has received, I bet he’ll be surprised to see the number of people who will come forward in support of him. You can deal with a bully when you have lots of friends on the playground who have your back.

  • U>Y May 22, 2015, 11:10 pm

    Maren R:
    As a former temple worker at the Rexburg Temple I am embarrassed that you were treated in such a way not only in the House of the Lord by a set-apart temple worker but on one of the most important days of your life as you were entering in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. I truly hope that the rest of your day was as wonderful as could be.
    Anyone who upsets a bride on her wedding day better darn sure understand that the Outer Darkness will be a far better place to be.

  • Penny September 29, 2015, 8:11 am

    Unfortunately bullying doesn’t stop with kids or teens. I came back to church 5 years ago and have been mocked and mimicked by adult females. It saddens me as the women doing this are in leadership positions. When I suffered a heart attack two woman came to see me. I was told that in church they announced I was sick. The women in charge wanted to make sure no one helped me. Thanks for your article. Penny

  • Sharon October 4, 2015, 9:52 pm

    I’m so sorry you have had to deal with this, especially at church! It’s just so wrong! We don’t treat people like that in our ward! I would be ashamed to face my saviour some day with having treated anyone like that! I don’t know where you live but you should talk with the Bishop or Stake President!

  • Marie K January 21, 2016, 3:39 am

    A very interesting article about bullying and empathy.

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