The recently released movie “Bully” sends a powerful message to young people to stand up to bullying and not to stand by. The real life issue of bullying needs to be stopped. It can lead to physical abuse and even suicide. Tragically, bullying is much more harmful than the bullying I remember as a child and really needs our prayers.
When I was in elementary school two boys sitting at desks behind mine put gum on my chair, and I sat on it wearing my new wool skirt. My feelings were very hurt to think my classmates would do that to me, but I finished the school day saying nothing, not even to the teacher.
At home my mother worked her magic to get the gum out of the skirt telling me God loved not only me but my schoolmates too. She said she’d pray about it with me to help me forgive those boys by looking for something good in each one of them. With tears on my face Mom and I sang my favorite hymn together, Hymn 304 from the Christian Science Hymnal. The first verse is:
Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow, —
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
Whatever I found good about each one I do not recall, but I had the courage to return to school the next day and smile at each of them. They never played any more pranks on me, focusing instead on shooting rubber bands behind the teacher’s back. Those were what I consider the days of innocence.
Not so today– bullying statistics include that 160,000 students stay home from school everyday due to bullying and 30% of students who reported they had been bullied said they had at times brought weapons to school. Cyberbullying through the internet and phone texting has become a major factor.
Indiana’s bullying legislation defines bullying: “bullying” means overt, repeated acts or gestures, including: (1) verbal or written communications transmitted; (2) physical acts committed; or (3) any other behaviors committed; by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the other student.” Discipline rules prohibiting bullying are in the Indiana legislation.
Websites like Stop Bullying Now and bullying training in schools offer practical steps for students, teachers, and administrators to take to combat this problem. So do practical prayers like this Bible Psalm, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace (Psalms 37:37).”
How would you pray to stop bullying?