October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Ambassador author Laura Taylor’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies teaches kids how to biblically combat bullying. This is the first installment in Laura’s three-part series on bullying.
October is many things. It is the month that ushers in the beauty of Autumn. It is blazing treetops, football games and homecoming queens, Harvest festivals and Halloween. October heightens our awareness of the beauty all around and about us. It is celebration and transition. It is the month that slowly prepares us for change as summer’s heat passes and winter cold is on its’ way.
Perhaps that is why October is the perfect month for something else. As we celebrate the beauty of God’s creation and embrace the inevitability of change that October signifies, it seems only appropriate that October would be the month chosen to heighten our awareness of the need for change regarding a very important social issue. October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
I am sure you’ve heard the stories, read the headlines, seen the statistics. You probably even have a story of your own. It’s not like bullies are new. No, they’ve been around since mankind decided in his heart that he could live life better apart from God and His love. And that is the heart of the matter of bullying. I could quote statistics about the numbers of kids that are bullied every year, but statistics aren’t always accurate. I wonder how many kids go home to parents who bully them but never tell; how many women are bullied by a boyfriend or husband but dare not breathe a word; or how many students hide away in the bathroom during lunchtime but won’t speak up and tell who they are afraid of? The important thing isn’t the numbers, because in my estimation, just one person being bullied by another is one too many! What is important is that behind every statistic, every victim and every bully is a heart. A heart that holds hurt, insecurity, fear, anger, violence. A heart that needs to hear and feel the love of a people who reflect the love of a Savior who himself knew a thing or two about bullies.
Where do we begin to address the issue of prevention to such a pervasive enemy? We begin with ourselves, we begin at our own heart level. As the month of October brings on seasonal transition and change, what if we allow it to begin to transition and change some of the attitudes that assist a culture of bullying. What if we stop saying that it’s just “boys being boys” or “ kids are just mean these days” , or “it’s just part of childhood”? What if, instead, we embrace the truths, the unchanging truths that Christ taught and expects His own kids to live by? The Maker of our hearts knows every nuance of how our hearts work, how hearts are connected to actions. Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke chapter 6. He said that it is from the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. Nowhere did he ever say it was okay for people to use their words
or actions to bully someone. Never did he justify manipulation or intimidation. He never entertained the idea that bullying was some sort of rite of passage for children, or for anyone. Prevention begins with change. Change begins at the heart level. Change begins when we check our the temperature of our hearts against the heartbeat of His Word. When we hide His Word in our hearts and teach our children, grandchildren, neighborhood children to do the same. When we decide that He really does know what He’s talking about when he tells us how to live our lives, love our enemies, and take care of those around us that is when prevention begins!
As the cool autumn season is upon us and the transition from warm summer sun to cool autumn days has us heading to the closet for that favorite hoodie to ward off the chilly autumn morning air, why don’t we check and make sure that we’ve clothed ourselves in the wardrobe Christ commanded so that together we can ward off the chilly sting of bullying and let our hearts produce the warmth of His love? “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love the perfect bond of unity” Colossians 3:1214 (CSB)