Facing the Giants
When Bullying Turns to Abuse
It begins with teasing, putdowns, mocking or insults. Then, it becomes progressively worse, with threats and intimidation. Bullying has been on the rise in schools. Now, more than 1 in 5 school children report being bullied frequently.
While age is not necessarily a factor, bosses and spouses can be bullies too, it typically begins at a young age and carries on throughout life unless there is intervention or revelation. According to June Hunt, the author of Bullying: Bully No More (Aspire Press), there are four components to bullying: Severe, Threatening, Out-of-Balance, and Persistent. A bully rarely stops his or her behavior. Instead, the continual emotional blows inflict greater emotional pain on the victim.
Hunt identifies the primary traits of bullies in a checklist that looks at the metal, emotional, behavioral, and social components. “Bullying can be direct or indirect, overt or covert,” says Hunt. “Whatever the type, the taunting is always destructive and demoralizing.” The sad truth is that victims of bullying often don’t say anything. They just put up with it and try the best they can to cope with the abuse. Unfortunately, says Hunt, the shame and self-blame they feel often carries over into adult relationships.
In her Bullying booklet, Hunt carefully and meticulously identifies the signs of bullying. As parents become more aware of behavioral changes in their own children they are better equipped to recognize these changes for what they are. Sadly, when standards of mutual respect are eroded in the home, children often act out their frustration or control on weaker victims. And while boys can be intimidating and hostile, girls are catching up in the level of harshness directed at one another. As electronic communication (particularly texting) is a chosen means of sending messages, these can become gateways toward harassment and threatening behavior.
Hunt gives readers the tools they need to recognize bullying and put a stop to it. She shares the top 10 fallacies and top 10 facts and explains the root causes of bullying behavior. “Both the bully and the bullied believe lies that keep them trapped in a cycle of harmful behaviors,” says Hunt. “If children tell you they are being bullied or if you merely suspect bullying, listen carefully. Take what they say seriously and show support by reinforcing that bullying is wrong.”
Though abuse and bullying behavior has always been part of the human experience, Hunt says there are seven biblical steps to prevent bullying. These include explaining how God has made everyone unique and valuable, modeling healthy relationships, purposefully setting age-appropriate guidelines for the Internet, encouraging children to stand up for themselves, working within the community to prevent it, and redeeming the heart of the bullying child. While there is no panacea for completly stopping bullying, there are practical steps to avoid it or to minimize the lifelong damage.
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