Bullying is a form of child abuse and 4 out of 10 children will drop out of high school this year because they are being bullied at school or abused at home. When students going to school, one out of every four of them will be bullied. Also, one out of five students admit to being the bully themselves. Bullying has been and is still a major issue within teen culture. Not only is this an issue within the walls of a middle school or high school, but with the rise of new technology it’s an issue online as well.
As a student pastor I rub shoulders with students every week who are being bullied as well as being a bully themselves. I encounter students who hate going to school and will possibly think about taking their life if the bullying doesn’t stop. Not only this, but I see bullying creeping it’s way into our student ministry as well. I’m not alone in this, student pastors and youth workers every where encounter these same situations and students. So what are we to do? What can student ministries do to help bring a decline in bullying? Here are a few things I believe we as student pastors and youth workers can do.
Educate our students. Use this issue to educate your students about bullying. Show them the devastating reality of what bullying does to students. Doing this will help your students are are being bullied have a voice and feel comfortable knowing you are trying to stop this thing. Also, this is a way to show the bullies what they are actually doing. When appropriate, use films such as Bully to educate your students.
Show your students from the Bible bullying is a sin. Call bullying what it is-sin. There is no way around it, bullying is never a good thing and from God’s Word be called a sin. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Bullying always involves talking in a negative way towards someone. Even when the bullying is physically, it usually involves words. The Bible makes it clear our speech, our words, should be for building up and should offer grace to the hearer. Does bullying do that? The Bible expects us to treat others with respect and dignity as image bearers of God and students need to know bullying as no place in our life’s. Don’t be afraid to show students from the Bible why bullying is wrong.
Partner with parents. Many times parents are unaware of bullying that may be going on at school or online. If you catch it before the parents do, make sure and have a conversation with the parents. You may talk with the student or students, but realize our job is to equip and partner with the parents. Don’t leave them out of this. Also, share resources with parents to help them understand this issue. One resource you can share is Covenant Eye’s eBook called A Parents Guide to Cyberbullying.
Don’t allow bullying in your ministry. Your student ministry must be a safe place for students. Don’t allow bullying to gain an inch in your ministry. If you see it happening, stop it and don’t be afraid to set tough boundaries. Students should never feel unsafe at our ministry because of bullying. Also, students should realize bullying has no place whatsoever in our ministry.
These are just a few ways I believe student ministries can help when it comes to this major issue of bullying. What are some ways you and your ministry are fighting against bullying?