Are Churches Not Doing Enough?
Where To Get Help!
Could the messages that pastors deliver to our children act as catalysts to ridicule and bullying? We teach our children to stand as Christ did against the world, but are we preparing them to deal with the physical and psychological consequences?
I recently interviewed a talented, young, and faith-filled Christian artist named Spencer Kane. He is an anti-bullying advocate, and he made a very sobering observation: churches are not getting involved enough in bullying awareness.
I can’t speak for what is discussed in many of the youth groups, but in all my years attending church, it has never been a topic discussed.
Spencer might be on to something.
Kane has partnered with Pacer.org. Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center is a leading organization focused on combating and educating society against bullying. The world might seem more politically correct than ever, but bullying continues.
According to the National Bullying Prevention Center:
1. 19.6% of high school students in the US report being bullied at school in the past year. 14.8% reported being bullied online.
2. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment.
3. Students who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood.
4. There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression and delinquency.
5. Youth victimized by their peers were 2.4 times more likely to report suicidal ideation and 3.3 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than youth who reported not being bullied.
In my interview with Spencer Kane, I learned more about why this serious issue is not being addressed adequately in churches and what needs to be done:
Spencer, why don’t churches get more involved?
I speak about bullying at many of the festivals I tour. Bullying is just not a topic of discussion inside churches. I think it’s because when people are involved in a church, they can find their identity in Jesus Christ, as well as a group have the support of Christians who love and support them. That’s something non-Christians don’t have. So people who are struggling finding a faith or believing in Jesus who are being bullied don’t think to pray about it or seek out someone at the church to help get them through it.
I’m not sure churches understand the magnitude of bullying. It seems like every other day we hear on the news that someone committed suicide due to bullying. I think that church kids are sometimes bullied worse than non-church going kids. The bible says we’re misfits, we’re unique, different, not the normal crowd. I’ve been a PK (pastors kid), and part of the church youth group. And although I had strong friends and family, being a Christian, I’ve been ridiculed and bullied at school. Why? Because I lived a different lifestyle. I don’t go to the parties. I don’t think churches realize how much that goes on.
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Churches Should Get Involved
The topic of bullying should not only be focused among adolescents, but adults as well. Much of our congregation not only consists of children experiencing bullying, but adults who are still feeling the effect of bullying as children. Many still injured from bullying as kids do not understand the residual effects, and that they require direction, counseling, and spiritual guidance.
Why Do Kids Get Bullied?
The reasons are as many as the number of incidents. The Pacer Organization notes some primary reasons. The prime targets appear to be those with disabilities, children with weight problems, children of color, and sexual orientation.
The group of those with disabilities specifically noted that The National Autistic Society reports that 40 percent of children with autism and 60 percent of children with Asperger’s syndrome experience bullying. When reporting bullying, youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education. Studies found that children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers.
* Spreading rumors or lies – 36.3%
* Pushing or shoving – 32.4%
* Hitting, slapping or kicking – 29.2%
* Leaving out – 28.5%
* Threatening – 27.4%
* Stealing belongings – 27.3%
* Sexual comments or gestures – 23.7%
* Email or blogging – 9.9%
Two Organizations That Can Help Stop Bullying
Spencer Kane mentioned two organizations available for our youth. The Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center and Remedy Live. Remedy Live does more than just support those facing bullies. Remedy Live provides 24/7 chat with trained people who care about what we messed up people are going through! They help kids deal with abuse, bullying, depression, eating disorders, faith, pornography, self-harm, sexuality, and suicide. They offer YouTube videos to introduce themselves to those in crisis and a phone app!
What Is the Effect of Childhood Bullying on Adults?
A 2014 study from researchers at King’s College London in the UK found that the negative social, physical, and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident up to 40 years later.
The researchers found that, at age 50, participants who had been bullied when they were children were more likely to be in poorer physical and psychological health and have worse cognitive functioning than people who had not been bullied.
Spread the Word
Pass this article to your church and pastors. Let them know it’s important to educate congregations about bullying and to get involved! People in and out of the church need this information, and excellent resources are available.
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.