Yesterday was a sobering day.
Me: “What motivates a person to be a bully and pick on other people?”
Student: “It makes them feel bigger. Maybe they have been bullied before or are looking for a quick laugh from other students, so they belittle someone to lift themselves up. It’s disgusting.”
Me: “And in your opinion, what does bullying do to the victim?”
Student: “It’s demoralizing. Makes people wonder if they are worth anything. If their life is even worth living. Over time, they begin believing the things people are saying about them.”
Yesterday was a sobering day.
Every week, I have a remarkable opportunity to be in our public High School talking to students about real issues. Yesterday we talked about bullying.
28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.
70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
15% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
In one large study, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month.
Only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.
Do you feel overwhelmed yet?
Yesterday was a sobering day. I sat down with multiple students and asked them about bullying that is happening in their school right now. Many said a version of the things recorded in the conversation above. Others brought up the types of things people call them and one even mentioned this week was “fight week.” That’s right. A week designated for unruly, unimaginable violence initiated by the students. This is a problem.
As I sat and listened to these students pour out their fears and experiences, my heart seemed to grow heavier and heavier. How do kids survive this scary place? What place do Christians have in speaking life back into these students who are being bullied?
I mentioned a moment ago that I am able to visit these schools on a weekly basis. Not only do I get to talk to students about real issues they are dealing with (like bullying and their future), but I get to speak God’s truth in their life. This was the most sobering part of yesterday.
I taught the Good News of Jesus to students in a public High School. If you want to know more about how I am able to do this you need to follow this link. This is something I deemed impossible, yet there I was, standing in a room full of students, in the middle of the day, on a Tuesday, telling them about the deep, earth-shattering love that can be found in Jesus.
Not only was this impactful, but between each of our gatherings, 5 of us leaders stood in the hallways praying for the students we just talked to and heard stories from. I was standing in a public HS hallway, audibly praying for specific students by name. If that doesn’t get you hyped up I don’t know what will!
Here is my point. It’s not enough to preach an eradication of bullying from our public schools. It’s not enough to use scare tactics to threaten bullies away from their victims. Evil cannot be simply cast away. No, evil needs to be elbowed, jabbed, thrust, and shoved out of our schools because love has taken its place. Evil cannot be removed, it must be replaced!
It is our responsibility to equip our young people, and really all people, on how to be a light in the seemingly dark hallways of public High School. We need to be revealing the heightened importance to be the “good” that is going to force out the “evil.” We need to be boldly speaking love, self-worth, courage, and trust back into our students.
I believe in a God who can do unbelievable things. I believe in a God who can remove all levels of hatred and violence from the heart of a High School bully. I believe in a God who can heal and embolden the victim of bullying. I believe in a God who can use me, and others, as a messenger of his love to these students. I believe in a God who can dissipate “fight weeks,” suicidal thoughts, and pain. I believe in a God whose love is unrestricted, unflinching, and unequaled.
What do you believe in?
Evil cannot be removed, it must be replaced. New Testament Paul says it this way, “Hold on to what is good, reject what is evil.” If you sincerely desire evil to be eradicated, what are you doing to pour love back into the world? Back into people? Find a way today to infuse the world with God’s love.