7 ways to respond to bullies
Online or in the school yard, how should Christians react when they are bullied?
Bullies have often had the stereotype of being a kid larger than the rest of the kids and spiky hair. They also have had the stereotypical bully duties “stealing lunch money, wedgies, and even the occasional stuffing in lockers”.
But, things have changed, so let’s take a look at the modern day bully. They come in all shapes and sizes and now due to social media they are much more involved in everyday life, and at times nearly impossible to get away from.
Cyber Bullying is a form of bullying that is constantly growing and changing. The majority of students have Facebook, text messaging, and Instagram in their pocket right now. Bullies these days will often make threats, blackmail and try to intimidate people online.
If you're being bullied online, here's a few things to think about:
1. Evaluate your relationship with the bully
Is this a genuine bully, or a friend having a bad day? Have you done something to upset this person? Were you rude to them or excluded them from something? Do you owe them an apology?
2. Evaluate the severity of the threats
Do you feel scared, or worry that the person will harm you physically? If you do, you need to report it to an older trustworthy adult ASAP. Save the messages, print them out and take it to your parents, or a teacher you trust.
3. Pray for the bully
Sometimes, it's obvious the bully has some serious issues, and is in need of help. I'm sure you want them to get that help, or at the very least you want them to leave you alone. We know that God doesn't like bullies - just take a look at 2 Kings 2:23-24 23:
Some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
However, as followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to love our enemies, so your prayer would probably be for God to give you peace and understanding with this person.
4. Move On
Try not to obsess or focus too much on what these bullies say. Try your best to move on! The more you let this situation hinder your day to day life, the more you empower the bully. The easiest way to move on is to consider the source, would you take advice from this person? Is this person constantly in trouble? Are they known for saying hurtful things?
Remember God has a very specific and personal plan for you. Think of a hurdler beginning to run his race - he knows his goal is to cross the finish line. He takes off from the starter's block and heads to the first hurdle, but upon approaching it he stops and quits the race. He knew his goal was to finish, but was not able to overcome the obstacles in front of him. Get the help you need from friends, family, counsellors, so you can keep running your race, and get through the trials that are thrown in your way.
5. Find opportunities to grow
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
It can be hard to consider bullying “all joy” but think about what you can learn:
• Conflict resolution
• Value of words
• Overcoming obstacles
• Trust in Jesus
6. Read the book of Proverbs
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. (Proverbs 4:14-16)
The book of Proverbs provides encouragement, and also insight on the difference between wise people who follow the Lord, and 'fools', who are always trying to cause trouble. A look through this book may be of help.
7. Understand the 'bully brain'
Bullies usually bully for attention, acceptance or accolades.
Attention: When you continue to argue or react, this gives them the attention they desire. It is best to just ignore to the best of your ability, if you feel you are in danger of being hurt then report it to your parents and a teacher you trust ASAP!
Acceptance: Most bullies “do what they do” because they do not know any better or they are jealous. They think they may find acceptance with others by degrading others.
Accolades: Similar to Attention and Acceptance, bullies are searching for praise. They bully because at some point, someone told them it was funny, crazy or mean. Getting attention for being mean doesn't really seem like an accolade but in the eyes of a bully, getting attention for being mean is better than not getting attention at all. They desperately desire the same things that are needed for everyone else; they just don't know an appropriate way to get it!
Remember how God sees you
Remember, you are created in God's image!
You are exactly the way He wanted you created, and he has a very specific plan for you! Don't let someone who does not know your purpose stop you from living the life God wants!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
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