On Oct. 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Chevy Chase UMC, the Baltimore-Washington Reconciling Methodists will host an event to explore the issue of bullying and the church’s response to it. The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for youth. For more information or to register, contact the Rev. Deb Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As people of faith, we cannot be silent any longer.
According to U.S. government reports, 13 million students each year, or about a third of those attending school, are affected by bullying. Every day, 160,000 students miss school because of bullying. Forty percent of teenager with Internet access report being bullied online during the past year. Six out of 10 teens witness bullying at least once a day. Every seven minutes a child is bullied and 85 percent of the time, nothing is done about it.
Among LGBT youth, the Centers for Disease Control reports:
- Eight of ten students had been verbally harassed at school;
- Four of ten had been physically harassed at school;
- Six of ten felt unsafe at school; and
- One of five had been the victim of a physical assault at school
And it’s not just children. In the U.S. workforce, 37 percent of workers, representing 54 million people, report that have been bullied on their jobs. Nor is the church exempt. On the floor of the 2012 General Conference, Mark Miller of New Jersey and others rose to say the church had bullied them, as gay and lesbian United Methodists, when it allowed holy conversation that included comments about stoning homosexuals. Later, the Washington Post reported, other United Methodists claimed to have felt bullied when, during floor debate, homosexuality was compared to bestiality.
“I have experienced bullying to be sure,” wrote Leland G. Spencer IV of Georgia on his RMN blog. “Paradoxically, the cruelest things ever said or written about me have been uttered at General Conference and appear on the pages of the Book of Discipline. … Reading about General Conference was an act of violence on my body, mind and spirit, and it left me in tears.” Other United Methodists, like the Rev. Steve Wendy of Texas, questioned the need for the denomination to compromise on what it says in Bible and the Book of Discipline to be God’s law and “stumble in its witness.”
Sites that are rich in resources:
This site is aimed at kids, with several videos at http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/webisodes/index.html
Tyler Clementi ended his life on September 22, 2010, by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, three weeks after starting his freshman year at Rutgers University. The foundation was created to raise awareness of the issues of cyber bullying and suicide prevention, and to promote acceptance and inclusion of LGBT teens.
Dr. Dan Olweus has been involved in research and intervention work in the area of bully/victim problems among school children and youth for over 30 years. His large-scale project to study this phenomenon began in 1970 and is now generally regarded as the first scientific study of bully/victim problems in the world. Information about many forms of bullying and resources/programs available to schools may be found at this website.
The Channing Bete Company's mission is "to strengthen individuals, families, and communities by reinforcing healthy behaviors and commitment to positive social values." In addition to publishing and distributing educational resources for schools, public health organizations, and private and government agencies, the company also publishes resources for positive youth development programs. This section of their website is dedicated to resources to purchase for bullying prevention programs.
Articles and items of interest
Bullied – a documentary film and accompanying curriculum for youth from the Southern Poverty Law Center
Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. It can become a cornerstone of anti-bullying efforts in middle and high schools.
One-third (33 percent) of the U.S. public also believe that messages from religious bodies are contributing “a lot” to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth, and another third (32 percent) say these message contribute “a little;” only 21 percent say they do not contribute at all.
The 4-H has recently made addressing bullying among youth a priority. This 28-page resource, on sale for $3.95, helps youth professionals better understand how to create safe and fully inclusive environments within the organizations they serve. It offers a comprehensive overview of the latest bullying research and a guide for selecting evidence-based bully prevention curricula and resources
In a poignant witness, Leland G. Spencer IV writes: “In a conversation I had with an inexplicably popular lay speaker in Georgia, I shared my belief that anti-gay language in churches contributes to the suicides of LGBT people. He responded, ‘That’s sad and all, but we have to follow the Discipline.’ Notice that he didn’t disagree with me, but instead flippantly subordinated human life to his unwavering allegiance to bigotry.”
Read an outstanding New York Times editorial by Charles M. Blow, Bullies on the Bus.
“Bully is becoming boilerplate/ …Dramatic shifts that are upending America’s majority-minority paradigm are making people uneasy” as women, immigrants, minorities, non-Christians and LGBT people emerge stronger and become more influential. The bullying of the bus monitor that went viral on YouTube was awful, but so it the bullying in our politics. “Those boys were trying to exert power over a person placed there to rein them in. But bullying is always about power – projecting more than you have in order to accrue more than your share.”
A Boston Globe Sunday Magazine article examines anti-bullying programs, with a focus on bystander training. “After decades of research, no one has yet found a way to reduce bullying in US schools. But in the shadows, you just might find the solution.”
Dare to Speak: A sermon by Rev. Ianther Mills, superintendent of the Washington East District
The General Board of Church and Society tells the story of how St. Stephen’s UMC in Oklahoma addressed bullying by creating a video for It Gets Better.