Bullying is a huge problem for kids these days and it's time for us to address it in the church to make sure our kids know what to do when they're attacked by ugliness in the world. Of course, being bullied in person is horrible, but being bullied online is easier and more frequent because it's faceless. ABC Family has a great movie called Cyberbully. The best age to watch the movie is middle school and high school (grades 6-12). It's a good movie because it not only talks about telling somebody you're being bullied (cyber or otherwise) but it shows what happens when a victim chooses to no longer be a victim.
Bullies pick on kids who are weak and let them. The greatest gift you can give a child is to empower him/her to know who s/he is in Christ and walk with confidence. Most anti-bullying programs try address the issue by having lessons in not hurting other people's feelings, sympathy, empathy, or martial arts. They are trying to teach a bully to be nice but with teenagers kids are bullies because they get an emotional reward from it. They feel better about themselves when they put somebody else down.
In the movie you will notice that the most effective prevention happens not by trying to teach the bully to be nicer, more sympathetic, or empathetic, but by the victim choosing to no longer be a victim. Teach the kids in your church:
- to walk with the confidence that they are never alone with Jesus.
- to be able to say loud and clear, "Stop it!" Give them other phrases or words they can use and have them practice saying them.
- to choose their online friends carefully. You don't HAVE to accept every friend request on Facebook.
- not to give their phone number or email address to just anyone.
- that when somebody tries to bully you through email, text, or social media to save the evidence and tell them you are saving it.
- to understand that social media is NOT PRIVATE!
- to pray for the courage and confidence to stand up for themselves.
It doesn't matter how busy parents are, they need to be aware of the security settings on Facebook and be "friends" with their child so they can easily check what's on their timeline often and without the child knowing when they will do it; follow them on Twitter to know what they're tweeting. If their kids are putting something on the internet for the world to see, it's not private so do not worry about them telling you you're not respecting their privacy. If the world can see it, so can the parent. Know who your kids follow on Twitter! BE AWARE of what's going on in the cyber-social lives of your children!!
Watch the movie. Have the conversation. Empower the kids!