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How to Prevent Bullying

Parents, schools and churches need to talk about bullying with kids.

Parents have the primary responsibility for training, instilling and modeling values in their children, including respect for other people, regardless of age, appearance or other characteristics. Bullying, at its core, is an expression of disrespect. Thus the atmosphere at home should be one in which abusive speech or actions, whether directed at others within or outside of the family, are clearly understood to be unacceptable for everyone — children and adults alike.

More specifically, parents should impress on their school-age and adolescent children that they are not to participate in bullying, whether as individuals or in a group, and that they should report bullying to an adult (teacher, administrator or parent), whether they themselves or someone else is the target. Furthermore, when possible, they should understand that coming to the assistance of someone who is being bullied is not only appropriate, but an act of courage.

Schools are responsible for providing a safe environment for all who attend, including a schoolwide culture in which bullying is definitely not acceptable. This goes well beyond cracking down on individual bullies. It requires an ongoing, comprehensive effort involving students, teachers, administrators and support staff that is designed to increase awareness of bullying, improve adult supervision, and generate rules and a social climate that clearly discourage bullying. The staff and teachers must also provide protection from all forms of bullying.

Churches should clearly teach young and old alike that bullying directly contradicts the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. It was He, after all, who sought out the outcasts and powerless and who taught the critical importance of helping "the least of these."

Furthermore, church youth groups can be a learning laboratory for accepting and welcoming everyone — including those who aren't particularly attractive or popular in school. Unfortunately this does not happen automatically among children and teens — even those who have been raised in church — so youth and student leaders alike must continually strive to keep their gatherings a welcoming, clique-free zone.

 

 
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