Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Facing the Bully

They repay me evil for good,
    and hatred for my friendship.
~ Psalm 109:5, NIV~

I often wonder if all of the attention we have paid to the issue of bullying in recent years has done us any good.  It seems we hear about it more on the news, while suicides and incomprehensible acts of evil are committed against one another.  Schools have awareness campaigns, while students find more insidious ways of emotionally abusing their peers.

Kids with special needs are far more vulnerable to bullying.  Having physical differences or perceived weaknesses often makes our children the subject of taunting or teasing.  Having emotional, behavioral or social issues often makes our kids targets as well.  Unable to process or cope with the typical issues of daily living, the ignorant seem to get a kick out of provoking our kids' lack of skills.  It's just another heartache that parents like us need to face in our special needs parenting journey.

Thank God, the Bible has something to say about dealing with the challenges of bullying!
  •  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. (Romans 12:17, NIV) -- In trying to resolve the problem, we need to be careful to not become bullies ourselves.  Even unkind words against the bully can be harmful.  There may be more to the story than we realize.  Oftentimes, bullies were actually bullied themselves.  We have to exercise that power we are given to break the cycle, not repeat it.
  • Stand firm, and you will win life. (Luke 21:19, NIV) -- Child expert, Dr. Michele Borba offers great tips on teaching your child how to handle bullies.  When your child is not successful in following Dr. Borba's recommended measures for standing firm against the bully, you need to stand firm, getting involved with the other parents and/or the school.  That stance needs to be calm and assertive in order to be considered credible and to accomplish your purpose of ending the abuse.
  • If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22, NIV) -- As the old adage goes, "Kill 'em with kindness."  By being kind to the bully, your child stands as the light of Christ in a dark world and may just win the bully over in the end.  Furthermore, you do not know what the child who is behaving like a bully may be going through that is feeding that bad behavior.  We had one girl who was bullying our daughter that had just lost her mother to cancer and was pretty much neglected by her father.  Those "coals" mentioned in this passage can be a purifying fire that turns the situation from evil to good.
You can learn more about practical ways to conquer bullying by observing things like Unity Day or by connecting to great organizations like our friends at Good Friend Inc

Let me also encourage you with this anecdote.  Our son was physically and emotionally bullied in 3rd grade by a boy who is on the autism spectrum.  Talk about a difficult situation!  Here I was, the leader of a disability ministry watching a child with autism manhandle a child with hemophilia!  Nevertheless, we sought God's guidance, worked with the school and the other boys parents.  It took at least 2 years after the bullying stopped for my son to even become comfortable being the same room with the other child.  Today, these two boys are actually friends and share common interests.  Yes, our God IS the God of the "impossible" situation!

PRAY:  Lord, you are bigger than any bully that we could face.  You have handled these things since the beginning of time.  Walk with me, guiding me to handle bullying in appropriate ways, all to Your glory.

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