If there is one thing that has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older is the amount of bullying that goes on. When I was growing up, it was just name calling, picking on clothes or hair and other “small” things like that. However, today, things have gone so far that bullying now includes urging people to commit suicide because “their life isn’t worth it” or because they are a “waste of space.”
I’ve seen both of those comments pop up in news stories that have come across my news feed on Facebook over the last year or so. It’s just sickening seeing things like this happen to children as young as 10… maybe even younger in some areas.
Children have so much more access to bullying. It isn’t limited to in schools anymore. It can be found on every social media outlet and well as in text messages and phone calls.
I realize not all kids are innocent but things like this make me wonder how much of an active role parents play. Do you realize how rude your kids are?
I would like to think that Shane and I play a very active part in M&M’s lives. Especially when it comes to how they treat other people or how other’s treat them. We ask questions such as “How did school go today?” or “What happened that’s bugging you?” We try to get them to open up a bit when we can see that something is really bugging them.
Not only do I view that as “good parenting”, I view it as a way for them to relieve some stress, anger, frustration, etc.
Bullying has always had some sort of side effects to it (low self-esteem, etc.) but with how far it’s gone in the last 10 years, it’s scary to see what it can all trigger. Things such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, inability to sleep, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, and other mental health issues that could lead to suicide. (To read more, click here.) However, I’ve seen cases where the bullying is so bad where the child (or adult depending on the person) suffers from PTSD. Looking at it from the stress side, it can also lead to Trichotillomania, Shingles, hair loss, panic attacks, IBS, migraines, Bruxism, Personality Disorder, sleep walking and the list here goes on and on.
But. We, as parents, have an obligation to our children. Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Our children’s actions begin with US. You don’t want them to fight with others, don’t fight with in front of them, find a different way to resolve issues. You don’t want them to bully others, don’t criticize them on how they look; let them be kids! You want them to accept everyone just as they are, show others love.
Whether we realize it or not, they watch every action. As adults, we even bully without realizing it. Sarcasm. Backstabbing. Two-faces.
You see? We aren’t innocent either.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29.
We are directed to help build others up, not tear them down.
But, thankfully there are steps what us parents and our kids can take to stop and prevent bullying. The first thing is to recognize that there is a problem and not ignore it. Children, if you see something happening, stay calm and stand up for the person; step in and ask the bully to stop. Do not fight fire with fire, only then will someone get burned. Do not hold judgment against them, just ask them a few questions and see if they open up to you. But do not expect it to be done on the spot; especially if strong emotions are involved.
For those who are victims of bullying, I urge you to turn the issues over to the Lord. There is no one greater to help than Him. Exodus 14:14 says “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Do not fight back, know when to just walk away and hand it over to Him.
Maybe those bullies have a story deeper than we know. Maybe they need a friend, maybe they don’t feel respected or loved, maybe they haven’t been shown kindness, or they don’t feel accepted for who they are or feel that they will never be enough. Be a friend. Be kind. Be respectful. Be loving. Make sure they know that who they are is enough! Be a living example of Christ’s love
But parents, it begins with us. We can’t ask this of our children and be hypocrites. Be the example of how you want your child to act, how they treat others, and how they handle tough situations. “…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” ~1 Timothy 4:12
**If you know of someone who has been bullied and is now contemplating suicide or if you know someone who is just having thoughts of ending their life for another reason, please give them a hug and let them know they are not alone. Give them the number to the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.**