Susan Boyd, LMFT
Bullying has become a widespread problem in our world today. As parents, counselors, and people-helpers, it is painful to watch as the children we love experience bullying from their peers. What are some ways to help children and teenagers break free from bullies? This blog series will target different aspects of bullying, with interventions you can use in your therapy sessions or in groups.
Integrating the Word of God is important in Christian bullying interventions, so I have included scriptures and other resources at the end of this blog. These can be used in session or given as assignments for kids to do at home, and discussed at a later session. Some of these resources are especially helpful to use together, with kids, in groups. For instance, you and the children will enjoy watching some of the recommended YouTube videos together!
Research is foundational for fact-finding, but Christ is the cornerstone of truth! I will be sharing both as we progress through this blog series.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
- Aggressive Behaviors
- Repeated, or likelihood it will be repeated, such as a threat
- A power imbalance favoring the perpetrator
Note: Check with your own state for language in their anti-bullying legislation. The above definition, by Dr. Daniel Olweus (Olweus, 1993,1994), is the most commonly used definition.
IS BULLYING REALLY A PROBLEM?
- The American Justice Department predicts 1 out of 4 kids will be bullied.
- 83 % of boys and 79% of girls report being bullied at school or online.
- 87% of students say school shootings were ‘paybacks’ for having been bullied.
- 58% of children admit to not telling parents they were being bullied.
EFFECTS OF BEING BULLIED:
- Increased school absences
- Lower Standardized Test Scores in schools where bullying is prevalent than in other schools
- Suicidal ideation
- Use of tobacco, drugs and alcohol are more likely than in children not bullied
- Possibility, victim, then, becomes a bully, known as a ‘bully-victim’
Are 58% of children not telling their parents they are being bullied?
What an opportunity you have as a clinician, therapist, youth pastor, youth leader, or counselor, to help kids where they need it the most! You may be the first one they tell.
SIGNS THAT KIDS HAVE BEEN BULLIED:
- Frequent complaints of ‘not feeling good’ or upset stomach
- Several missed school days
- Refusal to go to school or requests to stay home
- Loss of valuables and suspicious injuries
- Depressed, anxious, or angry mood
- Sudden change in personality (ex: extrovert becomes more introverted)
QUESTIONS TO OPEN UP THE TOPIC OF BULLYING TO A CLIENT OR GROUP:
- Does anyone ever get bullied at your school? How?
- Describe bullies? What do they say or do?
- Did any of your friends ever get bullied? When?
- Have you, actually, seen someone get bullied? What happened?
- Did the one getting bullied get hurt? Where were you?
- Have you been bullied? How? What happened?
- What did you do afterwards? How did you feel?
Open-ended questions open kids up. Closed ended questions get answers like: “no, I don’t know. I guess, maybe.” Begin by asking about other kids, then, narrow it down to them. Teenagers, especially, need to give their observations and point of view before trusting you or a group with their own, personal, experiences.
BIBLE STORY: The story of Joseph in Genesis: 37 & 39-45 is an exciting study to do with pre-adolescents or teenage clients or groups, on the subject of bullying. It can, also, be used over a series of weeks. (You may want to choose smaller sections of scripture, age appropriate parts of the story, for younger children.)
YOUTUBE MUSIC VIDEO:
‘Don’t Laugh At Me,’ sung by Mark Willis.
VERSE OF ENCOURAGEMENT:
Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion, forever.
Stronger by Building 429
I hope this information gives you a good start on understanding bullying and how to approach the subject with your client or group. Kids want to tell you. You want to help them. Hopefully these resources, and the resources that will be listed in future blog posts from this series, will be beneficial to you in your counseling ministry.
Susan K. Boyd, M.S., LMFT, has been a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist for over 20 years. She is the author of The Book on Bullies: How to Handle Them Without Becoming One of Them, and her most recent book, The Book on Bullies: Break Free in Forty (40 minutes or 40 days), will be released summer of 2017. She has provided seminars for churches, organizations, AACC World Conferences, wrote for Central Coast newspapers, and has been interviewed on television, news and national radio. She and her husband, Jerry, have been married for over 48 years, and have a son, daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren.