In the face of bullying, the idea of taking an unbiased view is quickly thrown out the window.
The bullied wins our hearts while the bully, we scrutinize without sympathy.
Yet Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us.
If we take this principle to heart, could it change the outcome for not only the bullied but the bully as well?
The story of Gabby and Kelly, two 13-year-old girls, proves Jesus was on to something.
Humans love a good hero vs. villain story.
That’s why we choose to take the side of the bullied. We become heroes fighting the villain (bully) who is holding hostages (bullied).
Have we ever stopped to think about what effects this sentiment has on the bully? Whether a villain or hostage, every human should be considered with importance.
Bullying is not a new concept. The Bible tells us there is nothing new under the sun.
Bullying can happen at almost any age. From zero to 99, we can find evidence of bullying. The peak for this behavior is often between the ages of 11 and 13, the middle school years.
According to verywellfamily.com, “Bullying occurs more often in the middle school and early teen years because kids are transitioning from being a child to an adolescent.”
Most parents dread these years due to the extreme difficulties of their children finding identity and their place in society.
“Thirteen-year-olds are dealing with hormonal shifts that can contribute to mood swings. Add school stress or peer problems, and their moods may seem to shift from minute to minute.”
Meet Gabby and Kelly. These young ladies are 13 years of age and are in the most challenging time of their lives: middle school.
These two were once inseparable. If you saw Gabby, you saw Kelly and vice-versa.
But somehow along the way, the dynamic of their friendship changed.
The realities of being 13 rose up and the once good friends became enemies. One became the bullied, and the other became the bully.
There wasn’t a day that Gabby would go to the school that she wouldn’t return home crying because of all the teasing she endured. Due to reasons unknown, Kelly began to dislike Gabby, and Gabby became the recipient of verbal bullying.
You can imagine what was going through Gabby’s head. Loneliness, embarrassment, fear, these are just some of the feelings to describe Gabby’s mindset.
However, what about Kelly? Could she feel any of these things? Do we automatically believe she has it all together? Do we not take the time to consider Kelly at all?
By dismissing the emotional state of Kelly, we carelessly overlook the reason behind good friends becoming enemies and we place band-aids over gashing wounds.
You see, Kelly was dealing with some significant issues in her life.
She was insecure and dealing with low self-esteem, an emotion that many prepubescents encounter, but the primary force behind Kelly’s abrupt change in attitude had everything to do with her mom being arrested and jailed.
According to us.ditchthelabel.org, “Our data shows that those who bully are far more likely than average to have experienced a stressful or traumatic situation in the past five years.”
That is sadly all too true for Kelly.
How those bullied are affected is often the focus and we abandon the principle of extending an olive branch in love to the bully.
We abandon Jesus’s call to love our enemies.
Instead, we begin to operate on the first principle of the bullied winning our hearts, and the bully, we scrutinize.
The course of this action results in one child being comforted and the other child we punish.
But the Bible tells us to pray for those who persecute us.
So, although it is easy to shield one child and scorn the other, we must first realize they are both God’s children, and He wants both children protected by love.
Prayer and God’s wisdom are what opened the door for the creation of a girls’ group for Gabby, Kelly, and others their age.
Kelly was able to open up at one of the meetings, in which the school counselor was on hand, and she received the tools she needed to work her way through the difficult situation involving her mother.
Extending love towards the bully in the form of prayers is the missing antidote to a toxic situation.
Considering both children and regarding them as necessary would mean that after the conflict, both children will grow and be whole. Instead, we often have “heroes” causing more harm than good.
When searching for a better way to help children faced with this bullying, look to the Bible in Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
Are you falling into the temptation of being a bully? Are we ignoring the fact that we were commanded to restore the bully gently?
Instead of acting in haste to save the day, let us pray and seek wisdom to deal with all situations life brings.