A Week for Children…Thursday…Bullying

I walked about a mile to school everyday because I couldn’t stand to be on the bus that would take me.  There was a bully on that bus that would hit me, spit on me or just call me names as my friends laughed.  I never learned how to stand up to him…I just walked.

I set out this week to present something each day that would be a reminder for everyone to pray for children – both those in our sphere of influence and those around the world.  I did this because the church I serve is going to hold a special service called “Children’s Sabbath” this Sunday where we honor the gift that children are to us and recommit ourselves to justice issues surrounding children.

Sometime early last week, I laid out a framework of topics to write about for this week.  I knew I wanted to use the two prayers that have been shared and found video presentations of them that I thought were pretty good.  I shared a “children’s sermon” from a recent worship service at First UMC, Princeton, and I did a justice piece on the topic of abortion.

The last piece I set out to do was today’s piece on bullying because there are some great educational opportunities coming up in our community on the issue and I thought that they needed to be shared.  I also asked our youth group to do some anonymous sharing about bullying.  (You’ll see their quotes peppered throughout this piece.)

I can’t really say that I’ve been the bully or even seen someone being bullied,
but I’ve been bullied.
You see, one time…most of the boys in my class called me gay…
Even kids my age and younger are getting bullied… I’m standing up to bullies.

One event, being held this evening at the Chuck Mathena Center is led by Keith Deltano and sponsored by the Mercer County Schools called “Bully-Proof Your Child”.  You can learn more about Mr. Deltano’s program here – but it looks great to me and the presentation is free.

One time I was at the mall and I saw a guy screaming at his girlfriend.
She told him to stop and then he slapped her.

Thanks to Christopher Gudger-Raines for reminding me of the following:
On Sunday, October 14, at 5:30 pm, Greenview UMC will be hosting a presentation by the Mercer County Parents and Students Coalition Against Bullying.  There will be free food and child care will be provided for those under 5.

The third event, being held on October 22nd at 6:00 pm is a “Kindness Kounts Parade” being held on Mercer Street.  This event is being sponsored by “Protect Our Kids 2012” which has set the goal of eliminating bullying in our schools and communities for our youth.  They are looking for people to march in the parade and offering assistance to anyone who may need it for this issue.

Parade Information
Kindness Kounts Parade

I would love to put a group together from our congregation to participate.  Anyone wish to join me?

One time, my bully and I were left unfortunately alone in the school grounds.
She asked if she could punch me and I, being afraid of her, assented.
The bruise stayed on my arm for weeks.
(I got the courage to confront her and she denies everything.
She lorded over me; I agreed to it all.)

However, I don’t think I was prepared for the actual flood of memories that this topic triggered for me.

The very first quote…well, it is mine.  I am not sure when the last time I thought about those days were but I know that they were not fun.  I am not sure to this day how much of being told to “turn the other cheek” in Sunday School and church had to do with what happened and my response but I am sure they had something to do with it.  I just know that those were painful experiences that by the grace of God (and walking) I lived through and grew through.  Some are not so blessed…so I am thankful.  I doubt that my experience was unique either…especially when I read the quotes included in this post.

However, I know that this problem of bullying (like many of the problems in our society) have not gotten any better with time.  It is only through addressing the causes and being willing to engage ourselves in the lives of those affected by this problem that we are able to do anything.  And once again, I think the cross of Jesus calls us to reach out to those who are bullying as well as those who are being bullied.  It is not an either/or situation – it is about people not just a “problem.”  And as someone who knows the One who came to “live in the neighborhood with us” I think I have to be about the people…not just the problem.

So today I hope you will say a prayer.  Maybe for yourself and the healing you may need – but also, say a prayer for the children in our community who are affected by bullying and for those who are working to help eliminate this problem.

And I would also add that if there is anyone reading this who needs to talk about what they are going through now…get in touch with me.  I know where we can find help.

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