Thursday, May 10, 2012

Say NO to Bullying

I pray every day my kids have a better experience growing up than I did. I tell them every day, if anyone hurts you or bothers you at school you tell me.

Bullying. It grows more and more serious. I walked in to school every day afraid of what I was going to have to face. I skipped school. My grades suffered. Best day of my high school life: Graduation.

I don't want that for anyone else, especially my kids. People are hurtful. Clicks and labels. Popular or not. Kids today have been pushed to suicide to get away. Where was the help for them?

Know you child. Talk to your child. Teach them that bullying is wrong on both sides. They shouldn't be bullied, nor should they become the bullier.

Signs a Child is Being Bullied 

Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.
Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem.

Signs a Child is Bullying Others 

Kids may be bullying others if they:  
  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

Why don't kids ask for help? 

Statistics from the 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement show that an adult was notified in only about a third of bullying cases. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:
  • Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
  • Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
  • Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
  • Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
  • Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Love is Simple

One thing I've learned A LOT lately: Love is simple. Religion is complicated. But in the end the central message of most religious group books is love. That is the most important part, the part that should bring us together in unity.

For years I've watched "the church" interpret the Bible and contradict this message. People who wonder why others would turn away from such a wonderful message, such a wonderful gift... well it's because the presenters of this message aren't living it. They aren't showing it. In fact they are showing the opposite. They are too worried about preaching, instead of practicing. Judging, instead of helping. Condemning, instead of caring.

I've got a friend that has had a pretty tough run with life. Growing up around drug use, in the foster care system, never shown a better way... turned to drugs herself. Until recently, was not shown another way. A way out of that life. But in the church most of her life. Who dropped the ball?

Now genetics and drug use have left her at a young age with kidney damage. Early 20s, and on dialysis. Needs a transplant. Can't get an ounce of help on her medical bills when she needs it. Struggles just to find the money to pay the required out of pocket amount to be treated. She struggles with life or death every day.

And where are the people around her? Most of them, judging. Assuming. Condemning. Wondering why she let herself get addicted, and let the drug use go on "so long"... In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions. Even good people can be lured into an addiction.

And the thing we need to ask ourselves when concluding how we treat someone with "problems" (which is anyone really) - is WWJD? How would Jesus Christ treat this person? How did he treat the woman with leprosy? The adulteress woman that was supposed to be stoned? Jesus is the example we are supposed to follow.

But we're too focused on "interpreting" the Bible. On reading verses out of context to sit around determining if someone is condemned. We need to relearn our place. It is God's place to judge, to convict, to condemn. It is our place to show people his love that is offered to all.