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 Electronic Newsletter!

March 2017


BULLYING: An Issue for Children and Adults

(note: many weblinks are included in this issue. If clicking on them does not take you to the website, please copy/paste into your web browser.)

* Ellie's parents are worried about her. She has become reclusive, barely coming out of her room. One of her friends told the parents that it's because of what some kids are saying about her on Twitter.

* Luke's younger brother was beat up on the way home from school because a friend of his had betrayed a confidence of someone who was a friend of the kids who did the beating. Luke feels like he has to respond in kind.

* Damien was waiting on a street corner for a friend. A police car pulled up; the window rolled down and the officer said angrily, "What are you doing here. Get your hands out of your pockets right now."

* Fernando is in kindergarten.  He is smaller than most of his classmates. Two of his classmates consistently call him "tiny man," and push him up against the wall in the bathroom.

Sophia is in seventh grade.  Her math teacher has spoken to her several times about her inability to understand algebra concepts. Now she uses Sophia as an example of someone who will never be able to go on in math because she can't get these beginning ideas.

-All of these vignettes are examples of bullying of young people--different kinds of bullying with different consequences. 

-Adults are also victims of bullying.  

-The effects of bullying are wide-ranging-including the bully, the victim, the bystander, and the community itself.


Experts usually define bullying as having these components:

1. Aggressive Behavior -actions intended to harm someone else.  

2. Imbalance of Power -the perpetrator has more power than the                               person targeted.

 3. Repetition -the aggression happens over and over, or the target has a reasonable fear that it will happen again.   

Most of the time when we talk about bullying, we are talking about behavior among young people, but adults also are victims and perpetrators of bullying. There are similarities in the strategies for adults and for youth in dealing with bullying, but there are also some differences.  Some adult workplace bullying falls under the category of harassment or discrimination. No matter what kind of bullying it is, the effects are negative.           


                             Religious Ed with Adults and Older Youth

A. Story:

Akouvi was originally a refugee from Togo, who spent much of her childhood in a camp in Ghana before she came to the United States. She is now a college student and a citizen of the U.S. She is completely on her own in terms of finances, so she also works while she goes to school and currently is working nights at Wal Mart stocking merchandise. One of her co-workers asked her to help him with the shelves he was stocking because Akouvi had finished her section. She did help him but realized the man had done very little on his own and was now continuing to relax as she did the work. When she said something to the man, he told here that he had cleared it with the shift supervisor, and that the supervisor wanted Akouvi to do the extra work. Akouvi really needs this job and is aware that as an African, she is not viewed in the same way as the other workers. 

Read the story above and ask the class what they feel Akouvi should do.

B. Movie:   

"Cyberbully" is an ABC Family film about a teen-age girl's dealing with digital bullying. (available through Amazon)

Show and discuss with the class.


C. Fight/Flight Response:

  1.  Use Attachment #1 to stimulate discussion from the class about possible    responses to bullying behavior.

  2.  Attachment #2 talks about "Throwing A Curve."  Ask students for their own     examples.


D. Scriptural Reference:

The story of Joseph and his brothers is one  that  young people can relate to. It can be used as a jumping off point for discussion around bullying between siblings and close friends.

Religious Ed. With Younger Children

A. Where Do You Stand?

This activity enables students to explore their own opinions and understand how others feel about bullying. Set up two chairs with "Agree" and "Disagree" signs. Read out one statement at a time and ask the children to place themselves according to what they believe, stressing that there is not always a "right" answer. Pupils standing near each other can discuss their decisions and random students can be picked out to explain why they have chosen their particular location. Following this, children can change position if they have formed a new opinion.

Sample statements include:

    It's best to keep it a secret if you are bullied.

    If you see somebody in trouble you should try to stop the bullies.

    It's OK to call someone a name if you are only joking.

    It's better to tell a friend about bullying than to tell the teacher.

▪    If you ignore bullies they will go away.

*    Anyone can be a bully.

                                             (from dramaresource.com)


B. Flashbacks and Flash-Forwards

Using flashbacks or flash forwards creates a context - it shows what led up to a particular moment, how it might be resolved or how it might develop. A setting is given, such as a playground or classroom. Pupils are asked to think of still images related to bullying. The group stands in a circle and one by one participants step in and make a still image as part of a developing tableau. Nothing is pre-planned. When sufficient characters have been added, thought tracking can be used to establish a little more about the characters.                             ipj 7                                     

Explain that when you clap your hands, you would like the students to move silently in slow motion to where they think their character would have been a few moments before. Again they are thought-tracked. Now return them to the present moment and then flash forwards to show what might happen next. Using this technique you have created an episode with a beginning, middle and end and can develop it in any number of ways. This can lead onto discussion, role-play and writing. (also taken from dramaresource.com)


A. Work with a neighboring school

Check out neighboring schools to see if they have a program on bullying and if they could use help from adult volunteers.  It's important for children and youth to know that people active in the community are opposed to bullying behavior and are willing to be of help.



Putting prevention back in bullying prevention is the goal of the RFK Center's newly launched RFK Project SEATBELT - Safe Environments Achieved Through Bullying prevention, Engagement, Leadership and Teaching respect.

Check out the website:www.rfkcenter.org

and click on "bullying prevention" to take a quiz on bullying and for curriculum ideas.


C. Work on Conscious Affirmation in the Church community

 While there is more to bullying than low self-esteem, it is true that an environment of affirmation and cooperation can make bullying behavior all the more unacceptable.  Congregations can be intentional about recognizing the gifts of everyone in the congregation, even making that part of a Sunday liturgy, eg. Have all teachers stand for a special blessing and acknowledgement; Recognizing youth who are graduating (from pre-school through graduate school); providing an atmosphere where older youth are encouraged to help younger youth in religious ed., sports, games, etc.; acknowledging those who cook and clean up for congregational social events, etc.


D. Conscious work on payback and escalation of conflict

 So much of the violence in the community comes in the form of payback and escalation of violent situations.  So, someone is bullied or threatened or harmed in some way and his/her friends decide to get back at the perpetrator; then the perpetrator and friends want to get back, and the cycle continues. Discussions among the youth and the adults can center around strategies to deescalate conflicts. What would you do, etc.  A screening of the film PAY IT FORWARD can also lead to discussion.




In the area of bullying, as in every area, open communication lines are essential so that a young person feels free to tell you about what's happening. This is important whether the young person is doing the bullying or is the victim of bullying.



The movie Cyber Bully(2011) looks at the issue of online bullying through the eyes of a teen victim.  It deals with issues of homophobia and suicide. Good for home viewing and discussion.




After watching these PSAs from celebrities, ask the youth how they feel about what was said. 





Read a book with your child like ARTHUR'S APRIL FOOL by Marc Brown. See what kind of conversation it brings about.  Scholastic, as well as other groups, have lists of books about bullying online.


There are lists of movies about bullying on the internet.  Pick one and view it with your children. Sometimes talking about a character in a film can open up possibilities for conversation about what's happening in real life.


Younger and older children respond to role plays . Create role plays around situations that are made up by you or that are brought to you by the children.  For example...One of your classmates says to you-"I think I like your lunch better than mine. I'll just take yours."  Ask your child to act out what he or she could do; then have a discussion about what it means to stand up for yourself without hurting someone else, etc.


Studies have shown that if children feel stronger physically, they are less likely to be victims to bullying behavior.  Sports and other physical activities can help in this.


My humanity is bound up in yours, ipj 8

for we can only be human together.

Desmond Tutu


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See you soon, IPJ

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