Solutions to bullying from a surprising source

October 21 — “It made me sad and depressed. I didn’t want to get up to go to school in the morning,” said an 11-year-old boy who has been bullied at school since third grade.

As millions of children return to school this year, more than one in five will have a similar experience, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

And in a nationwide study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 21% of tweens said they had been the target, bully, or witness of bullying online or through other electronic means.

As parents search for ways to protect their children, a growing group of families are turning to an unlikely source of practical advice: the Bible.

“When my son first told me he had been bullied, I felt a range of emotions, from hurt and anger to feeling like I had let him down in not being there to protect him,” Shekita said.

She was already using jw.org resources to teach her children the Bible, which included information about bullying. “Because this topic was brought up, we knew practical ways to deal with bullying, but it was the last thing that crossed my mind that my own child would need to know.”

They again went to jw.org, the official website of the Witnesses, where a search for the term harassment turned up a wealth of free resources, including videos, articles, worksheets and other activities. online about topics that young people face in school.

These resources include a whiteboard animation called “Beat a bully without using your fists” and a cartoon on the powerful effect of prayer for those who are bullied.

Shekita, who lives in Indiana, uses the Bible and jw.org to help her children after being bullied.

Shekita’s young son said he tried to apply the biblical principle of not returning evil for evil. He also found other biblical principles in Proverbs helpful.

“If you avoid bullies and those they associate with, you can sometimes avoid a bad situation,” he said.

Madison Bechtle of Clifton, New Jersey, also turned to the scriptures when a cyberbully began harassing her in eighth grade with dozens of disturbing notifications on her cellphone.

“It was really crazy. He was sending me pictures of my house. I was really paranoid the whole time,” she said.

Reading the Bible and praying calmed her anxiety.

“It’s just you and God, and you only talk one-on-one,” she said. “It’s very comforting and it works.”

She also followed the practical steps outlined in the whiteboard animation from jw.org

“Be Social-Network Smart” to protect yourself. She informed her parents and teachers of the situation and deleted the social media account her bully had targeted.

“I still don’t have that account to this day,” Madison, now 21, said. “Not all situations resolve so easily. But applying the Bible’s counsel and focusing on the bigger picture can help individuals cope and maintain their sense of self-worth,” said Robert Hendriks , American spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“The Bible has proven to be a handy resource for many families in navigating difficult life situations,” Hendriks said. “The principles in this ancient book can help adults and children resolve conflict and maintain peaceful relationships with others.”

Principles such as the so-called golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated, showing love and being slow to anger are tools that Shekita says help her family in many ways. circumstances.

“I also think it’s important for our children to know that they are not alone and that they understand that there are other children who are going through the same things at school and in life in general. It is very important to hear from their peers that there is hope.” – Information provided