California has laws on the books that cover cyberbullying, harassment, and discrimination. Policies for bullying prevention are on school district websites. Children are taught to tell a bully to stop a behavior and then tell an adult. Few do. Moreover, what happens when your child is the bully?
The Golden Rule Should Put an End to Bullying
Treat others the way that you want to be treated. Jesus said it, and it is the perfect antidote to the bullying epidemic. Why isn’t it working? For starters, we (parents) have become conditioned to look for external solutions. We want the teachers and the schools to stop the bully.
And there’s some merit to this approach. When your child is under someone else’s supervision, it makes sense that this person needs to intervene. That said, a teacher or school district can’t help a bullied child become un-bullied. They also can’t help a bully to stop a destructive behavioral pattern. Rather, it's up to you to get professional help for a child who decides to act out with verbal or physical violence against others.
If Your Child is the Bully
Does your child understand that bullying is a spiritual issue? Sure, s/he doesn’t want to get in trouble with the teacher. Besides, s/he knows that you won’t be happy if you have to come to another parent-teacher conference. However, s/he also knows that unless behaviors reach a certain critical mass, you probably never find out.
God takes a dim view of bullies. 2 Kings 2:23-24 finds him inflicting the death penalty on a group of boys taunting Elisha. Reading this scripture may help jolt your child to reality.
But let’s take it a step further. Bullies learn the behavior. If your child is the bully, have you ever asked where s/he learned to act this way? The answer may surprise you. In some cases, you may find out that your child is dealing with being bullied – and has so, for a while. In other situations, the cause may be closer to home or an after-school activity. It might be on social media.
Don’t Wait for the School to End Bullying
It won’t happen. The school cannot end bullying and only has the power to curtail specific behaviors while someone is watching. It’s up to you, the parent, to take the initiative. Teach your children to love their enemies (Luke 6:27-28) and be kind to them (Romans 12:20-21).
Also, remember that you’re still your child’s closest ally. Make it a point to be present at school. Know who’s bothering your child. Know whom they don’t like. Show up unannounced at recess and watch your child interact with others.
Bullying won’t go away. It’s as old as humankind is. However, you don’t have to accept it in your home.