Part 1 of a 2-Part Bullying SeriesWe’ve all heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As a child, I was often told this by my mother when I came home crying because one of my friends had been unkind with their words or actions. I know my mother meant well and, as every parent knows, we don’t always know what to say in those times, so we do our best.
But as I got older, I realized that this infamous saying is untrue. Words carve much deeper hurts than sticks and stones. This started a search for me, a search for words that would provide healing. Not only would these words heal me, but they would heal others around me.
Words are Powerful
I found these words in the Bible. I found the story of Jesus and how He died, not only for the sticks and stones that were thrown at me but also for the words that were thrown at me too. As I continued to study, I learned through accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior that He also forgave all the sticks and stones and words that I too had thrown at others. Amazingly, this healing of forgiveness was all done with words, and with faith in the power of those words.
Today I know that words are powerful. Scripture is powerful. As Christians, Scripture is our armor that we put on every day (see Ephesians 6:10-18). The Bible gives us transforming words. These are words to use in gratitude, thankfulness, and when seeking forgiveness. Words to bring us into light when darkness surrounds us. Words, as the book of Genesis tells us, about how we began and about how we shall end (see Revelation).
The Bible gives us words so powerful that sticks, stones, and words can’t hurt us.
What is Bullying?
stopbullying.gov defines bullying as:
… unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
How to Stop Bullying
Here are some tips on what a child can do if they are bullied (also from stopbullying.gov):
- Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
- If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away, and stay away. Don’t fight back.
- Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
There are also things that you can do to stay safe in the future:
- Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you to feel less alone and they can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
- Stay away from places where bullying occurs.
- Stay near to adults and other kids. Most bullying occurs when adults are not around.
Did You Know Jesus was bullied?
Luke 4:14-30 describes how Jesus preached in Nazareth where He had grown up. After He had preached, the people became upset with Him and drove Him to a hill, intending to throw Him down the cliff. The King of kings was bullied by people He had known His whole life.
This is only one illustration of what Jesus went through during His three-year ministry. There are many more incidents, the most famous of which was how He was led through Jerusalem to be crucified. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell of this experience. The emotional and spiritual pain that Jesus endured means that He is able to empathize with how we have been treated by others. He knows the hurt bullying has caused you and if you are a parent reading this, your child.
The Bible gives us Scripture verses to store in our hearts and to teach our children in these times. Focus on the Family, a Christian-based resource, notes the following:
“Be strong and courageous,” Moses encouraged God’s people (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Christian Counseling for Bullied Children
I have been working with children for over 15 years as a Christian counselor. I offer counseling to children who struggle in school because of bullying, and I can help children and parents to find ways to stop the bullying.
“Little Lady,” courtesy of Ciprian Silviu lonescu, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Got a Problem?” courtesy of Burloos, Pixabay.com C