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October 11, 2010 / Meg

Thoughts on Bullying

I’m not sure I can eloquently put into words how heartbreaking it is to see the multiple reported suicides as a result of bullying. As a human being, it’s something I just can’t wrap my head around.  But as a Christian, I can’t even come up with the words to describe what I’m feeling.  Maybe because it’s a big confused blob in my brain right now.

In a world and in a nation where we’re told we can be anything we dream to be, why do we do this?  As children of a loving and awesome God, how do we show such hatred?  Aren’t we supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves?

I was never a victim of bullying; in fact, these stories have made me realize how simple my own upbringing was. I know middle and high school is probably the most awkward time ever, but I just don’t understand how we can let this happen.  These are precious lives we’re talking about. I can’t even imagine being made fun of so much that I felt I had no other choice than to take my own life.  It’s truly heartbreaking.

According to statistics:

  • 30% of students in grades 6-10 are involved in bullying–whether as victims, bullies, or both.
  • 8% of students miss 1 day of class per month in fear of bullies
  • 282,000 students in secondary schools are physically attacked in school each month
  • 43% of students fear harassment in the school bathrooms
  • 77% of students are bullied mentally, physically, or verbally

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I have all–or any–of the answers.  Heck, I don’t even have all of the questions.  But what I do know is that this can no longer be ignored.  It’s not just limited to middle and high schools: since news of Tyler Clementi’s death hit the media, so many reports have come out of bullying in the workplace, on public property, and yes, even in the church.

There’s a well-known (or perhaps infamous) church that is known for bullying.  I won’t link to their site, because the URL is offensive, disgusting, and pretty much makes me want to throw up.  They picket concerts, funerals, and events and publicly declare to the world that so-and-so is going to hell [which, last time I checked, wasn’t decided by them, but whatev].  They travel across the country, and, according to Wikipedia, spend nearly $250,000 on bullying protests each year.  Protests against denominations.  Protests against people.  Protests against children of God.

To say that I don’t understand would be the understatement of the century.  I certainly don’t have any expertise in evangelism–I’m just beginning to learn about it now–but telling me I’m a horrible person, that God hates me, and that I’m going to hell isn’t going to want to make me read the Bible or learn about Jesus.  I wholeheartedly believe the church is a place (as it should be) where people can find hope and peace and support and guidance.  But not when it’s presented in this way.  When we see these protests all over the media, it doesn’t help the situation.  It’s important to remember, however, that they’re children of God too, and they need grace just as much as the rest of us.

It just breaks my heart.  I know I’ve said that a lot in this post, but I can’t find better words.  We’ve got to change.  We’ve got to show love.  Hatred is only going to take us backwards. And unfortunately, we can’t reverse the acts that have been done.  We must love our neighbors if we’re going to make it through this together.  There is no other choice.

Today is National Coming Out Day.  To all who fear–know that you are loved.  Know that there is hope.  Know that you are not alone.

I’ve read so many blogs on people coming out as victims of bullying.  On saying: “yes, we must stop this.”  On saying there is hope for those who see no end in sight.  On unity and friendship and ending this nightmare.  My prayer is that we will come together to  overcome this.  To find unity and friendship and hope and peace.  In our everyday actions, we can choose to make a difference.  A positive one.  We all have different beliefs, but this I know: we can choose to show integrity and love.  We can refrain from using harsh words and committing acts of violence.  But we have to do it together.

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