I have been blessed to have many relationships with other educators, both in public and private schools. We share many of the same highs and lows, challenges and victories, and various interesting situations. Occasionally, I have to laugh when one of my public school colleagues insinuates that because I’m a principal at a Christian school, we don’t face any problems or challenges. It appears sometimes that they think that we live in a vacuum – free of all sin and challenges. And while the challenges that we face may be different, there are several challenges that are pretty consistent across the board.
A Common Challenge
The issue of bullying is just one of those common challenges that educators face regardless of the school that you are a part of.
“To be specific, bullying involves ongoing aggressive behavior intended to cause harm or distress in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power, physical or otherwise.”* Some folks truly believe that bullying is a rite of passage, and that if we just ignore it, the people involved will get through it. What a sad and unnecessary outlook!
Bullying can take a variety of forms:
- Verbal. Insults, name-calling, racial or ethnic slurs.
- Physical. Hitting, kicking, shoving or other direct bodily injury.
- Social. Spreading gossip and rumors, exclusion or outright isolation.
- Electronic. Cyberbullying on the Internet or through other electronic devices.
It seems that the targets of bullying are often “the small, the weak, the different, and those who tend to have difficulty making friends.” In an effort to elevate ourselves, we say things and do things to make others look dumb, stupid, or different. A total disregard for the person’s feelings and worth are thrown out the window as personal elevation takes center stage.
Addressing the Issue
I do believe that talking to our students and staff is a real key at addressing the issue of bullying. I do believe that parents have the primary responsibility for training, instilling, and modeling values and character qualities in their children. Bullying and disrespect go hand-in-hand. Respect for others includes our words, actions, and attitudes that we communicate to others. Schools need to partner with parents by providing a safe environment for EVERY student. A premise to communicate to every student and staff member is the fact that any form of bullying is never acceptable. Ongoing awareness of bullying, adequate supervision, and taking the appropriate steps to generate a positive social climate are key.
Bullying and disrespect are so anti-Jesus, it’s not even funny! Listen to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4: 29-32, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear… Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The fact that it is easy to be mean is true, but we don’t have to live there. Christ died for our sins, and we can be changed to the image of Jesus!
What Does Jesus Say?
The issue of bullying does not avoid showing up in a Christian school; we do not have school in a vacuum. It would be easy to ignore or believe that bullying doesn’t go on at FCS. Having our heads in the sand doesn’t change the facts. Identifying and addressing key issues is important! Jesus said, “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” As we understand and teach that bullying totally contradicts the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, we will help our students to be in a position to be a part of the solution of this ugly issue that is prevelent in our culture.
* Quote from: “Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care”. Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright (c) 1999.