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jdawgg

Bullying at Church

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I serve as an assistant Scoutmaster.  Ultimately, I think we should love the youth.  Naturally, if we love them, we will want to help them grow spiritually and feel comfortable coming to church and to Church-sponsored youth activities.

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It's not just a problem with the youth.  I know of two adults who had no business working with kids!  

As far as what leaders can do - set aside the "we're supposed to be nice" idea and remember that Christ cleared out the temple.  In other words, do whatever needs to be done.

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My calling right now is with the youth and I think it's a mixture of what has been answered. I think it starts with building a culture of acceptance and love, starting with the leaders. Leaders need to not make fun of the youth (I mean this to be mocking, not good married ribbing). Then talking with youth when they believe others, along with talking to those who have been belittled about being strong in the face of adversity.

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when i saw this thread it make me smile. inside my heart. I thought this problem is on our ward... 

 

we have a youth in our ward, mad to his ymp. because he often mock him. specially when he cannot attend mutuals either late to come. so sad because instead the ymp will understand him he make angry and get mad to that youth. 

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Plain and simple leadership failure. The Bishop needs to take the bull by the horns and have difficult conversations when he finds out about this kind of stuff. It is unacceptable to be bullied or be a bully, and 10x more unacceptable to do so in a place of worship or in a zone where the child should feel safe.

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Plain and simple leadership failure. The Bishop needs to take the bull by the horns and have difficult conversations when he finds out about this kind of stuff. It is unacceptable to be bullied or be a bully, and 10x more unacceptable to do so in a place of worship or in a zone where the child should feel safe.

 

Hmm. I think I'm going to go with parental failure.

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What can we do as youth leaders to help stem this flood of negativity in our wards?

First, recognize bullying and the signs of being bullied.  Be street smart.  Don't be clueless or ignorant.  Know about it.  Know your kids.  Know what their lives look like.  Know their joys and sorrows and challenges.  Listen to them.  

 

No really.  Be able to rattle off the warning signs of drug abuse, suicide risk, abuse, gang activity, and the whole lot.  If you can't do it, that's because you are ignorant of the warning signs.  No really, stop being ignorant.  That's the first step.  You can't help kids from a position of anxious, well-meaning, righteous cluelessness.

 

I think articles like this are sort of wrongheaded.  Human inhumanity to other humans are part of our mortal existence.  Focusing on stopping some humans from harming other humans is fine and dandy, but a portion of that effort should be on helping the humans deal with their own problems.  In other words, you can't stop bullying.  Teach your kids how to stick up for themselves.   Teach them to defend themselves and innocents.  Martial arts.  Self-esteem building activities are great, when they actually build self-esteem, which many of them don't.  You build self-esteem by accomplishing things and overcoming obstacles, not by learning how to feel good about yourself.

 

Don't raise victims who know how to get help.  Raise capable kids who can fix their own problems, and know how to get help.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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Don't raise victims who know how to get help.  Raise capable kids who can fix their own problems, and know how to get help.

 

That is EXACTLY what is in our playbook.  Bullies tend to hone in on easy targets.

 

My kids have shown that not only do they not give an aura of being easy targets, they extend that aura to those around them so that bullies think twice about picking on a seemingly easy target within visual/hearing distance of my kids.  And it seems like most of these happen on the school bus!

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I'm miffed at the current advice of getting an adult when bullied in lieu of standing up to the bully. The book Sticks and Stones had research against adults becoming overly involved in bullying cases. An adult stepping in does not affect the social balance of kids.

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I'm miffed at the current advice of getting an adult when bullied in lieu of standing up to the bully. The book Sticks and Stones had research against adults becoming overly involved in bullying cases. An adult stepping in does not affect the social balance of kids.

You should see this Facebook group I'm in for the PTA...

Everyday some parent is asking what the homework is for such and such a class... In our house, I will help you with homework if you need it but I'm not keeping track of your homework for you. You miss a homework you're in trouble.

And then there's the parents that reported a teacher for the Gifted math class in 6th grade to the school board because he wrote on his website, "We have several atudents that still don't know how to add and subtract fractions even after our class review... This is elementary! Parents are responsible for filling this gap in learning. We can't wait for your child." They said the teacher was being a bully and hurting the self-esteem of their children.

And then there's the parents that reported another teacher to the board because he was "yelling" at the kids.... The teacher is the football coach giving the kids their drills. This same teacher got reported because he told the 6th graders during Club Fair, "if you're on the smaller side, don't sign up for football. We have 8th graders who are 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. you will be crushed." The complaint was about not giving all the kids a fair chance at their sport of choice...

Sigh.

Edited by anatess

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This same teacher got reported because he told the 6th graders during Club Fair, "if you're on the smaller side, don't sign up for football. We have 8th graders who are 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. you will be crushed." The complaint was about not giving all the kids a fair chance at their sport of choice...

That one is easy.  Just make both parents sign a waiver that they've been warned, and hold everyone except themselves harmless in case of injury.

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First, recognize bullying and the signs of being bullied.  Be street smart.  Don't be clueless or ignorant.  Know about it.  Know your kids.  Know what their lives look like.  Know their joys and sorrows and challenges.  Listen to them.  

 

No really.  Be able to rattle off the warning signs of drug abuse, suicide risk, abuse, gang activity, and the whole lot.  If you can't do it, that's because you are ignorant of the warning signs.  No really, stop being ignorant.  That's the first step.  You can't help kids from a position of anxious, well-meaning, righteous cluelessness.

 

I think articles like this are sort of wrongheaded.  Human inhumanity to other humans are part of our mortal existence.  Focusing on stopping some humans from harming other humans is fine and dandy, but a portion of that effort should be on helping the humans deal with their own problems.  In other words, you can't stop bullying.  Teach your kids how to stick up for themselves.   Teach them to defend themselves and innocents.  Martial arts.  Self-esteem building activities are great, when they actually build self-esteem, which many of them don't.  You build self-esteem by accomplishing things and overcoming obstacles, not by learning how to feel good about yourself.

 

Don't raise victims who know how to get help.  Raise capable kids who can fix their own problems, and know how to get help.

Something that I think is implied in your post but not explicitly mentioned is also checking for signs of your own children bullying other kids.

Many parents check for signs of their children being bullied, but rarely check for signs that their children ARE the bullies. I do think this should be emphasized more.

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Something that I think is implied in your post but not explicitly mentioned is also checking for signs of your own children bullying other kids.

Many parents check for signs of their children being bullied, but rarely check for signs that their children ARE the bullies. I do think this should be emphasized more.

I and some other staff are currently keeping a file on one of my students as she has reported being bullied. The school counselor is also making this file. After a month, all we have is evidence this girl is the bully who torments other kids and cries bullying when they stand up for themselves.

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First, recognize bullying and the signs of being bullied.  Be street smart.  Don't be clueless or ignorant.  Know about it.  Know your kids.  Know what their lives look like.  Know their joys and sorrows and challenges.  Listen to them.  

 

No really.  Be able to rattle off the warning signs of drug abuse, suicide risk, abuse, gang activity, and the whole lot.  If you can't do it, that's because you are ignorant of the warning signs.  No really, stop being ignorant.  That's the first step.  You can't help kids from a position of anxious, well-meaning, righteous cluelessness.

 

I think articles like this are sort of wrongheaded.  Human inhumanity to other humans are part of our mortal existence.  Focusing on stopping some humans from harming other humans is fine and dandy, but a portion of that effort should be on helping the humans deal with their own problems.  In other words, you can't stop bullying.  Teach your kids how to stick up for themselves.   Teach them to defend themselves and innocents.  Martial arts.  Self-esteem building activities are great, when they actually build self-esteem, which many of them don't.  You build self-esteem by accomplishing things and overcoming obstacles, not by learning how to feel good about yourself.

 

Don't raise victims who know how to get help.  Raise capable kids who can fix their own problems, and know how to get help.

 

 

I'm miffed at the current advice of getting an adult when bullied in lieu of standing up to the bully. The book Sticks and Stones had research against adults becoming overly involved in bullying cases. An adult stepping in does not affect the social balance of kids.

 

I like both of these posts because they acknowledge (as PaleRider did) that bullies exist in the adult world as well and you need a strategy for dealing with that as well. And I'm pretty sure telling your senior parents to talk to your boss's (or coworker's) parents isn't going to cut it.

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The picture on the linked article spoke volumes.  How could this happen in a church setting?  And yet, we know it does.  We know abuse happens too.  Further, social media has turned the old counsel of standing up to the bully into a near impossibility.  The mob can break down just about any valiant individual, with relentless and vicious cyber attacks.  The call to honor--you want to hurt me--then YOU come and hurt me--falls on deaf ears. 

 

One helpful approach may be to have an increased adult presence at youth events.  It doesn't have to be seen as "security."  Instead, the adults could be present, sometimes to offer individual counsel, most often to show support.  "The ministry of presence" can be powerful.  A couple extra adults at a youth group event could be the difference between a supportative, fun, spiritually empowering experience, and one that ends up like the Lord of the Flies.

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Hmmmmmmm interesting discussion.  I think I agree most with anatess.  I was once in a priesthood meeting and the teacher asked a question - Why do we come to church.  So I would ask as parents and leaders of youth - what reason do you teach someone comes to church.  The teacher ask a member of our stake presidency to respond to the question.  Our good leader said he came to be inspired.  The teacher then ask the member of the stake presidency - so if you are honest - if you are not inspired you quit coming to church?  While the group  pondered; the teacher asked a brother that had been excommunicated why he came to priesthood that week.  In tears this brother said me had made a covenant with G-d to attend his priesthood meetings.

 

These two responses burned deep into my heart - especially the excommunicated brother.  His humble answer changed me forever.  As a side note that brother has had his blessing restored and is a pillar of strength in our stake.  So also was the member of the stake presidency who also was touched as was I.   If someone will quit coming to church if they witness bulling - Satan has already won that heart.

 

I realize many are tender and need care - church should be that place to find help and care - but it is also that place to give help and care - both to G-d and our fellow man.  Often the bully is as much or more so in need of help and care than the one they bully.

Edited by Traveler

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Hmmmmmmm interesting discussion.  I think I agree most with anatess.  I was once in a priesthood meeting and the teacher asked a question - Why do we come to church.  So I would ask as parents and leaders of youth - what reason do you teach someone comes to church.  The teacher ask a member of our stake presidency to respond to the question.  Our good leader said he came to be inspired.  The teacher then ask the member of the stake presidency - so if you are honest - if you are not inspired you quit coming to church?  While the group  pondered; the teacher asked a brother that had been excommunicated why he came to priesthood that week.  In tears this brother said me had made a covenant with G-d to attend his priesthood meetings.

 

These two responses burned deep into my heart - especially the excommunicated brother.  His humble answer changed me forever.  As a side note that brother has had his blessing restored and is a pillar of strength in our stake.  So also was the member of the stake presidency who also was touched as was I.   If someone will quit coming to church if they witness bulling - Satan has already won that heart.

 

I realize many are tender and need care - church should be that place to find help and care - but it is also that place to give help and care - both to G-d and our fellow man.  Often the bully is as much or more so in need of help and care than the one they bully.

Thanks for sharing that...I could feel the spirit reading that.

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I don't know about the young men but when I was in young women's (I think the middle group, don't remember the name, Mia Maids?) there was a whole lot of snark going on. It wasn't obvious bullying. It was subtle enough that teachers didn't catch on, rarely did anyone, but the recipient. There was one girl that was a bit of an odd ball, I don't mean that rudely, she just did things different and to the beat of her own drum. She dressed this way too. And some girls made it a mean point to make comments about it. They'd say at the beginning of class, "Hey Jane, nice dress." And clearly they tried to keep a straight face with these sarcastic grins on their faces. Jane did not follow the dress trends that many of us did. They reminded me of what a primary child would wear, only, in a much bigger size. That was my opinion, and I never said it out loud as to be mean. But those girls did. It was cruel.

 

Anyway. I think adults just need to be a bit more perceptive in these cases. Understanding that even seemingly nice comments can be cruel ones. It's learning how to pick those out.

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I could write a dissertation on this but...youth leaders can encourage parents to love their children and give them the emotional attention they need.

 

Youth leaders can also stand up for the victims. I witnessed a bully situation but watch to see what the normal teacher would do. Nothing. So sad. We had 3 YW go inactive because of bullying. It seems to be a particular challenge with girls more than boys in my experience.

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I could write a dissertation on this but...youth leaders can encourage parents to love their children and give them the emotional attention they need.

 

Youth leaders can also stand up for the victims. I witnessed a bully situation but watch to see what the normal teacher would do. Nothing. So sad. We had 3 YW go inactive because of bullying. It seems to be a particular challenge with girls more than boys in my experience.

My oldest daughter was relentlessly bullied and excluded by girls in the branch where we grew up.  Once she went to university she stopped attending church and has never been back.  My next daughter is twelve and we are a minority in our ward. She was having a joke with one girl, when another girl came over and said 'you are weird'...not being a shrinking violet, my daughter replied that she's not weird, she has a sense of humour.  The other girl shot back 'well, you shouldn't even be here, you don't even fit in with us - you're white', as the other girls laughed at the supposed hilarity of the situation.   Grrrr. 

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