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Are Your Children Safe from Bullying?

We’ve discussed what is safe, and how risks are necessary for development and maturation. We discussed safety isn’t an environment, but we do put up walls to keep evil out.
We don’t need to fear evil, but live lives for God.
What about safety from bullying?

Every time I hear that word, I cringe.

Bullying, annoying, tormenting, pestering, plaguing, molesting, worrying, badgering, harrying, harassing, heckling, persecuting, irking, bullyragging, vexing, disquieting, grating, besetting, bothering, teasing, nettling, tantalizing, or ruffling—whatever you want to call it.

People talk like this is a new thing. Like all of a sudden, children are meaner than they were when we grew up. And maybe they are. There certainly are more disobedient, disrespecting brats out there.

But no amount of parental or teacher instruction and supervision will prevent it from happening. Why? Because people enjoy controlling others. They do it by belittling, name-calling, heckling,...
Someone wants to boss someone else around, even when they have no authority to do so.
What’s a parent to do?

Family Rules
We don’t allow the boys to hit each other. They were allowed a certain amount of bantering, but not physical abuse.
We made exception when our youngest came. With his violent outbursts, he would beat his brothers with anything he could grab.
He wasn’t allowed to have sticks, but when obedience is lacking and a temper takes over, what is a rule, but a thing to be broken.
So in self-defense, my other boys were allowed to defend themselves. They were old enough not to hurt him, but kept him from hurting them.
Their defense usually resulted in my youngest telling on them. In which case, I had to draw out of him the reason behind their action—his own instigation. He would then suffer consequences.

Some people do not spank their children, because they equate spanking with beating up. They are not the same. The Bible clearly instructs why, when, and how to spank. It is not in a rage, but is a means of teaching obedience. God's Word tells us God made us, so He should know what it takes for us to obey Him.
The intent is obedience and maturation.

Bullying is when an unauthorized power exhibits pressure on another to conform to his personal desires.

Why can we defend ourselves?
Bullies pick on helpless targets. (They are chicken at heart.)
If you defend yourself and stand up to them, they will soon leave you alone.
Unless they like the reaction they get from teasing you.

Some would say as Christians, we should not defend ourselves. We should turn the other cheek.
Here’s some Biblical examples of bullies in the Bible and how Christ, His prophets and apostles responded:
Jesus aggressively counter-attacked the Pharisees and Sadducees when they questioned his authority and His right to heal on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6), and forgive sin (Mark 3:20-30).
When it came time to die, Jesus laid down his own life, they didn’t take it, although they congratulated themselves on what they thought they had accomplished.

Jesus tells us, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves… But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.” (Matthew 10:16-20).

Paul gave his credentials (defended his position) in Philippians 3:4-6.
He “powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:28).
When beaten and put in prison (when his companion was also a Roman citizen--notice he suffered another time when his companion was not a Roman citizen), Paul asked, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” Paul questioned their beating him. The following day, when they tried to secretly release him, he said, you imprisoned me publicly, now release me publicly.
He confronted their Council. (Acts 22:25-23:10).

God gave Steven boldness to accuse the Council of rebellion and sin. (Acts 7).

John the Baptist told King Herod his sin. He lost his head, but he didn’t allow a bully to hinder truth.

There is a time when you speak. For Truth. For God. Even in defense of yourself.
That’s where the shrewdness of serpents comes. Knowing when.

That’s also where the mother bear defenses enter. That’s God-given for a reason. Little bears need to be defended. But they must also grow up and become big bears. Discernment on your part helps to know when you should interfere and when you should step back and allow your cub to grow up and defend himself. If in doubt, ask your husband. But if you ask, then obey him.

We are commanded to be ready to answer. That’s defending what you believe. That’s standing up for truth, not cowering to evil.

How?— with Prevention, Preparation and Patience.
Prevention
“Brains over brawn” is one alternate way to meet a bully. Be smart about it. Avoid areas they frequent.
Just like you can avoid traffic accidents by shopping when others aren't, avoiding problem situations can eliminate confrontations.

Recognize how girls’ friendships work. Girls can have one “best friend,” but no three girls can share each other as friends. One is caught in the middle. Three couldn’t “just get along.” That encourages gossiping to eliminate one friend.
There's also only one woman in charge in a kitchen. Others just help. (The principle applies almost everywhere.)
Recognize social dynamics. That might eliminate potential problems.

Recognize Danger
We don’t endorse beating up another. But when someone comes at you, defend yourself.
My husband has taken the boys to Front Sight for classes on how to recognize danger, then defend themselves.
A term “condition red” means danger; “condition white” possible danger.
They learn how to see danger and be ready. For example: at a gas station, a ready man is not caught off guard and helpless when someone approaches with harm.

Preparation: Be Armed
We are commanded to put on the complete armor of God in Ephesians 6. An armor is for fighting, not for a walk in the park. Nor is it for retreating. We are equipped for a fight—an offensive fight.
Give your children tools, training, and confidence to defend themselves.
Being prepared can prevent harm.
Be alert.
Locking your doors hinders thieves, unless of course, they break your car window.
Teach your children about safe conduct.
You probably already have safety rules for when they are getting on the bus or at school.
Walk with your head up and pay attention.
When my boys went to college, I was nervous about what they didn’t know about people.
I recited the story of my class notes being stolen at a Christian college.
No place is exempt.
No person perfect.
Keep your things with you at all times. Don’t leave your stuff on a table, even to go to the bathroom, no matter how inconvenient it is to take it all with you.
Keep your backpack zipper shut and not accessible from someone behind you. (One son had his wallet stolen while in the lunch line.)
Don’t trust people. Be alert. Know where you are.
People walk in parking lots with their eyes glued to their phone. That distraction can get you molested.
Have your car keys ready.
Look around before getting into your vehicle.
Get gas at well-lit gas stations.
Don’t leave your keys or wallet in the car while you pay.
My boys know me as a person who doesn’t trust others. Why? Because there is evil.
Did Jesus trust his disciples? He knew when He chose them, they would fail Him. He still loved them, but didn’t trust them. An important distinguishing point.

Patience: Be Silent
Prayer does help. Pray for the bully. Usually it's those who are the most unloving that demand the most love. God's love can melt the most hardened heart. And change you, too.
Sometimes it’s saying nothing. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26:4-5).
Cyber-bullying has become a popular term. With all this technology can’t you block a person who insists on spouting unkindness? Teenagers can be the worse at saying their thoughts, especially over texts when they don’t have to face their object. Words cut. Your child doesn’t have to respond, nor read the text. Block the caller.

Not all silence is good. Remember Christ? He defended His authority when He needed to. Be discerning, and screwed.

We won’t keep our children safe from evil’s effects. But we can give them tools to defend themselves against evil.
Prevent: Be alert.
Prepare: Teach them truth. Recognize social dynamics. Equip them.
Patience: Discern when to defend.

Bullying, annoying, tormenting, pestering, plaguing, molesting, worrying, badgering, harrying, harassing, heckling, persecuting, irking, bullyragging, vexing, disquieting, grating, besetting, bothering, teasing, nettling, tantalizing, or ruffling—whatever you want to call it….

Safe from bullying? Not until we’re in heaven.
But God gives us the means to do the work He has given, without letting the bully to win.



How do you help your child with the bully in your neighborhood?
 

Good article - as usual! And good advice, avoid when possible, stand up when necessary. As you said, in spite of all efforts to eradicate bullying, it will always be with us because of the human condition. Yet God still answers prayer, and these people desperately need God. Thanks for sharing.

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