I. was. so. scared.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't know why he hated me or wanted to hurt me. I barely knew him. I found out later what his problem was and it was something ridiculous. But in that moment, I had no idea if he was going to beat me up, or what!
With some threatening words I don't now remember, he ran back into his house, and I took off toward home, crying and looking over my shoulder every few seconds.
It was horrible.
That's the only time I can remember being physically bullied, unless you count the time a classmate dug her long, claw-like fingernails into my arm during P.E. because I did better than she did in the long jump. In college I had some seemingly close calls with, well, let's just say . . . overly-friendly . . . guys while walking to work or riding in claustrophobic elevators in downtown Chicago. Scary! I guess that's a kind of bullying, too. No matter how old you are, it's not fun.
How many kids over the years have told me they were/are being bullied at school, on the bus, on the playground . . . even at home? Too many! Some experience physical bullying, others are verbally abused or taunted, and still others suffer both.
Just recently a boy told me, "I don't want to learn strategies to deal with it. I just want it to end!"
I'm sorry, child, that it's not likely to just end.
I'm sorry that too many kids are taught by their parents that they are the center of the universe.
I'm sorry that too many kids are bullied at home and choose to be bullies themselves to cope.
I'm sorry that God has been "removed" from your school in an attempt to attract your focus elsewhere. Don't forget, my dear, that no one can remove Him from your life, your experience, your heart. You can choose to focus on Him if you wish! He's the One who can ultimately help you.
We've become such a bullying society. Good grief, if a celebrity dares to think on his/her own and support a political party other than the left, he/she is ostracized. If an African American dares to speak out against Obama's tactics, he/she is labeled disloyal. If a company espouses Biblical values, it must be STOPPED. Even some who supposedly act on behalf of God use their position in abusive ways.
On a personal level, people are bullied all the time. If you don't look, act, or speak the way we want you to, you can't be part of our group. If you are different, I will call you names, slander you behind your back, or physically injure you. Oh, and you just happen to be in my path when I'm in a bad mood--you're dirt!
None of it is right!
Jesus Himself was bullied like crazy! At first He escaped the physical bullying and stood up to the verbal. Oh, yes, Jesus could make those verbal bullies look really stupid! He was too loving to use the word "stupid" in His heart I'm sure, but they were extremely foolish and He exposed them for what they were. He loved them, even knowing what they would eventually do to Him, enough to show them the errors in their thinking.
But then, on the night of nights, that would change everything forever, He chose not to speak up. He chose not to escape the physical bullying. You know, the death that you and I caused Him to suffer. He had a purpose in this. And the bullies couldn't keep him dead. Nothing or no one could!
That was Jesus, though. There will never be another Him.
How do we help these kids who are being bullied and picked on right now? I'm not an expert, but one thing I know for sure.
Pray for the victims and pray for the bullies. God can move mountains! He can do anything! He may have a purpose in allowing it to continue, or He may rescue immediately. But, whatever He decides to do, those kiddos need to be lifted up to Him by concerned Christ-followers.
It's easy to feel bad for the victim, but the bully is a victim, too. In some way, he/she is held captive by thoughts and ideas that are downright evil. These messages could be coming from anywhere--parents, movies, songs, video games, friends, etc. Kids don't have to look far to see (or hear) filthy lies. Even those who try not to will sometimes hear or see messages they shouldn't.
And they pay in some way.
We have little or no control over what other kids see/hear/do. But we can teach our own children to value others, to think of others before themselves, to guard their eyes and ears from all varieties of filth. We can spend lots of time with them and teach them how to put these things into practice. We can be vigilant in guarding their time, so that they are not stretched out too thinly with activities, without enough time to be studying God's word and learning important virtues.
What if your child is the victim? It's so hard to know the answer to that! The "pat" answers don't seem to work in real life. Again, I would begin with prayer. It sounds trite, I know. But just because it's so familiar to a lot of us, let's not set it aside like a B-list option. Prayer is powerful! Maybe this is where you will re-experience the power of prayer! What better thing can we do than to place our children in the palm of His hand, asking Him for wisdom to know what to do or how to advise them? He tells us He will give us wisdom if we ask for it in faith:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:5-6
I would also suggest really listening to the child and seeking help where it may be found. Again, I'm no expert, so I'm not going to attempt to give definitive answers here. There are so many situations that are different from each other. But find someone you trust, someone who will speak in Truth rather than simply in secular terms. Kids are being educated in secular "character" or anti-bullying at school. While there may be helpful suggestions to be found there, the root of the problem is so much deeper than that. Seek Godly counsel!
Oh, Lord, help these hurting children! And please help us as parents to teach our children well!