Sticks and Stones, Clicks and Phones: Solutions for Preventing Bullying at Church

Description

Bullying happens not only in schools, but also in neighborhoods and in extracurricular activities. Sadly, children with special needs are often targeted at a much higher rate than their typically developing peers.

It has become a national public health crisis, keeping over 160,000 children home from school every day.

Adults need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this issue:

  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Chronic headaches
  • Loss of eye contact
  • Poor posture
  • Decreased communication with parents and peers
  • Increase of nervous habits such as tics or nail biting
  • It’s not autism. It’s not a virus or an environmental issue.

So what is this insidious threat?

Bullying.

And unfortunately, bullying is not only happening in schools, but in neighborhoods and extracurricular activities as well. Sadly, children with special needs are often targeted by bullies at a much higher rate than their typically developing peers. This causes a great impediment to their learning and their opportunities to make and keep friends. Students report that often, adults don’t know about the instances of bullying. In addition, peers join in or ignore the bullying as it occurs.

Research tells us that bullying is largely about social power…attaining it and keeping it. While we might think of a bully as a large, tough caricature, children who engage in this behavior are very likely to look just like anyone else. Many times, these individuals are in the middle of the social power structure and are trying to gain more recognition from those they perceive as having more control. To accomplish this, children who bully others exclude, start rumors or tease their targets. When others join in or laugh, the “bully” has been recognized as a leader and therefore, has power. This cycle can be difficult to break, both for the child who is bullied AND for the child who is bullying others.

In her presentation for Inclusion Fusion 2012, Katie tackled the issue of bullying…and focused on bullying prevention. Pastors, KidMin leaders and volunteers need to know how to proactively prevent bullying, because sadly, this kind of behavior can—and does—occur in churches, too. In this presentation, she shared some practical strategies that can change the social culture of Sunday mornings.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if what we accomplish at church could change the culture of schools and neighborhoods as well?

 

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