Seven years after I wrote Bullying in Church, the post came screaming back to life. That traffic (not coincidentally, I'm sure) coincided with the release of the Mormon Moment video titled, “Bullying – Stop It.” The video went viral almost immediately and along with those searches my bullying post started raking in comments and social media buzz.
Even though I have ample experience with bullying as a victim, as the parent of a victim (with four out of my six kids), and as a bystander doing nothing, I had no idea how common this problem is. I also did not realize how many have left the church because of this, even though I almost did myself.
This past week I had a conversation with a guy I grew up with. He had read the post and contacted me. He witnessed some of what happened and even participated in the rock throwing festivity (something he apologized for years ago). At the time it occurred my mom went to the home of each boy and talked to the parents. After that kindergarten incident, I do not recall him ever being involved directly again. (It didn't seem to phase Bob (the pseudonym I gave to my years-long childhood bully in the post linked above) — or his parents. During our conversation this guy said,
I think that we probably had the same “Bob.”
I was shocked. I had no idea he was being harassed, too, let alone by the same perp.
Since then I've thought a lot more about bullying and boys. It was awful and traumatic for me. But after seeing one of my sons experience some of it, I recognize that with boys there is still a general machismo that makes it taboo to discuss, to even admit, to even label it themselves. I mean, if you are being bullied, what does that make you?
After watching the video this week, a friend asked, “Why not just teach kindness?”
I understand wanting to take a positive approach. Sometimes, however, I think we need to clearly identify the negative side. Just as we don't always focus on “positive internet resources” but also, specifically and directly, address the evil of porn. It seems so many don't understand bullying — or even identify what they are doing as bullying — that it is a huge issue we need to address from the negative side as well.
My daughter, Monica, plays Melissa, the blonde bullied girl in the video. Ironically, she is one of the two of my children who hasn't dealt with bullying at any serious level. Still, she and Aisha Garcia (the girl who plays Jessica, the brunette bullied girl) capture the heartbreak of such treatment.
I hope you'll share this with your children and help make a step toward making churches (and everywhere!) safe for everyone.
Watch this video together.
Tell a personal story about being bullied or seeing someone bullied and the harm it caused. Ask the kids if they have every seen anything like that. Follow the lead of the children in responding to what they have experienced. Some ideas:
- Who can you tell if you see or experience bullying?
- How does bullying make you feel?
- Why would anyone be a bully?
- What do you do if you feel compelled to go along with bullying?
- How can you stand up to bullying?
- Let's act out what you might say or do if you encounter a bully.
What would you ask your children about bullying? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Recently I reviewed a movie about bullying called Nowhere Safe. It has a different take but might also provide valuable insights into how such behavior happens.
This film is about high school kids and is more appropriate for middle school and up. Check the synopsis to see if it's a fit for your family.
Annette has also made some great, free printables that fit perfectly with this lesson. Get them at Tips from a Typical Mom. Just scroll down to the bottom of her post. Leave her a thank you comment, too!