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Simple FHE Ideas: Bullying

Seven years after I wrote Bullying in Church, the post came screaming back to life. That traffic (not coincidentally, I’m sure) coincided with the release of the Mormon Moment video titled, “Bullying – Stop It.” The video went viral almost immediately and along with those searches my bullying post started raking in comments and social media buzz.

Bullying - Simple FHE

Even though I have ample experience with bullying as a victim, as the parent of a victim (with four out of my six kids), and as a bystander doing nothing, I had no idea how common this problem is. I also did not realize how many have left the church because of this, even though I almost did myself.

This past week I had a conversation with a guy I grew up with. He had read the post and contacted me. He witnessed some of what happened and even participated in the rock throwing festivity (something he apologized for years ago). At the time it occurred my mom went to the home of each boy and talked to the parents. After that kindergarten incident, I do not recall him ever being involved directly again. (It didn’t seem to phase Bob (the pseudonym I gave to my years-long childhood bully in the post linked above)  — or his parents. During our conversation this guy said,

think that we probably had the same “Bob.”

I was shocked. I had no idea he was being harassed, too, let alone by the same perp.

Since then I’ve thought a lot more about bullying and boys. It was awful and traumatic for me. But after seeing one of my sons experience some of it, I recognize that with boys there is still a general machismo that makes it  taboo to discuss, to even admit, to even label it themselves. I mean, if you are being bullied, what does that make you?

After watching the video this week, a friend asked, “Why not just teach kindness?”

I understand wanting to take a positive approach. Sometimes, however, I think we need to clearly identify the negative side. Just as we don’t always focus on “positive internet resources” but also, specifically and directly, address the evil of porn. It seems so many don’t understand bullying — or even identify what they are doing as bullying — that it is a huge issue we need to address from the negative side as well.

My daughter, Monica, plays Melissa, the blonde bullied girl in the video. Ironically, she is one of the two of my children who hasn’t dealt with bullying at any serious level. Still, she and Aisha Garcia (the girl who plays Jessica, the brunette bullied girl) capture the heartbreak of such treatment.

I hope you’ll share this with your children and help make a step toward making churches (and everywhere!) safe for everyone.

Music

Hymns

Primary Songs

Scripture

3 Nephi 14: 12

Lesson

Watch this video together.

 

Discussion

Tell a personal story about being bullied or seeing someone bullied and the harm it caused. Ask the kids if they have every seen anything like that. Follow the lead of the children in responding to what they have experienced. Some ideas:

  • Who can you tell if you see or experience bullying?
  • How does bullying make you feel?
  • Why would anyone be a bully?
  • What do you do if you feel compelled to go along with bullying?
  • How can you stand up to bullying?
  • Let’s act out what you might say or do if you encounter a bully.

What would you ask your children about bullying? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Other Resources

Annette has made some great, free printables that fit perfectly with this lesson. Get them here. Just scroll down to the bottom of her post.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Pardonmoi March 16, 2014, 12:47 pm

    I saw the video on Pinterest and though it would make a great family lesson. Thanks for putting this together! I know what we are doing tonight!

  • Marnie March 16, 2014, 1:12 pm

    Thanks for a good outline. This is a big deal at my kids’s school and hopefully it will help.

  • Ashley A March 16, 2014, 8:17 pm

    I am so thrilled to see that you have posted about bullying once again. I think that in the church, we assume that this does not happen under the Lord’s roof but it does – and if we do not acknowledge it, we cannot fix it. I grew up in Utah (in the stake up above the Bountiful Temple, to be specific). I had an abundance of friends in junior high and high school. I was very active in extra curriculars and, I say this because it is relevant, I was popular in school… but church was a different story for me.

    I began attending Young Women bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was thrilled to participate in everything that came along with the program and in many instances, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went to school with all of my peers at church so I assumed things would be similar to junior high/high school, only more spiritual. I was wrong.

    I remember that week after week, I’d return home crying after mutual, begging my parents to either move or not force me to participate. Frankly, I do not remember everything that happened (I’m assuming my mind has superficially forgotten most of it so that I could move on) but I do remember a couple of things. My family did not ever read scriptures together when I was growing up so I was not entirely familiar with the ways that words are pronounced in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. One Sunday, I was asked to read a scripture in Young Women before we broke off into our individual classes. The scripture was from Psalms in the Bible. The thing is, I KNEW how to say Psalms. I may not know how everything is pronounced in the scriptures, but it was obvious to me that the ‘P’ is silent.

    When I was asked to read the scripture, the girl asking me to read pronounced the ‘P’ asking “Can you read this scripture in P-salms?” “Oh, you mean Salms (how I pronounced it back to her)?” “Um, no, it’s P-salms, ” she responded. This was proceeded by a group of girls gathering around me, insisting that the ‘P’ was supposed to be pronounced. Since my family did not read scriptures together, I found that I was questioning my own understanding of how the word should be pronounced and believed that perhaps I was wrong (since I hadn’t heard the world said allowed that I could recall). Maybe, I thought, so that I would not make a fool of myself, I should follow the advice of my peers.

    I stood up in front of the Beehives, Mia Maids, Laurels and all of our leaders (mind you, this was Utah so the group was large). I said, “The scripture is from P-salms…..” Immediately, one of the girls who had set me up loudly blurted out, “Did you just say P-SALMS??” This was coming from a girl who INSISTED that the ‘P’ was NOT silent. I was humiliated. From that day forward (and I am in my thirties)… clear through high school, college, graduate school and even in church, I have NEVER been able to publicly speak again without being medicated for anxiety (and the medication is only slightly effective). Without medication, I have very humiliating, public panic attacks when I speak in front of groups. I was in dance lessons from the time I was 2 until I was 18 and had performed, competed, etc. for YEARS without any trouble, yet I suddenly (and seemingly permanently) had stage fright.

    I also remember being brought to tears at girls camp when I was thrown off the dock at Bear Lake when I did not know how to swim well (my inability to swim well was a well-known fact and this was clearly an act of bullying) and when I was intentionally tripped (by my own teammate) while playing YW basketball. Suffice it to say, I only went to girls camp once and played only one game of YW basketball. There was more – it was ongoing, but these are just a few examples.

    I do not know what these girls had against me. I do not feel that every person in the world has to like me, but I do insist that they treat me with kindness because even if I do not like someone, I am still nice to them.

    Anyway, I think that making our stories known is important because like I said, unless we bring awareness to the problem, it cannot be remedied.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 16, 2014, 10:14 pm

    Pardonmoi and Marnie, thank you! I hope they work for you!

    Ashley A, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for what you experienced and the pain it has caused. You are very articulate, so I hope you can learn how to overcome the stage fright so others can learn from your wisdom. I believe you have it in you!

    I agree 100% that it’s high time we deal with this. There’s no reason it should happen in a place where we (should) all agree it’s not acceptable.

    If you have ideas about how to stop this, please reply!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Why I’m Not Really All That Grateful to My Birth MotherMy Profile

  • Paula March 17, 2014, 2:27 am

    I grew up in a very small country church with a family feeling and don’t remember ever feeling bullied. I can imagine in large churches it very well could happen which is really sad. Church should be a safe place for a child, not a place where they fear being bullied.
    Paula recently posted…Plow and Hearth Knockoff Chevron End TableMy Profile

  • rk March 17, 2014, 6:14 am

    You daughter did such a wonderful job on that video. It is so important to try to teach children and teens kindness. The frustrating thing about working with teens and some children is some (though not all) can be so self centered that they can be so oblivious to the the incalculable harm and hurt they could be inflicting on others. It isn\\\’t that many of these kids are bad, they are just very immature and need all the coaching on their social skills they can get.This topic is near and dear to my heart. I was picked on a lot in grade school and Jr. High. I will spare you the details. It however, pretty much stopped in high school. I swerved into the the solution, but it wasn\\\’t until later after my first grader had a bullying incident that I found out what I had done right after all those years of pain. I got onto the internet to get ideas on what I could do to help my son and found a site called Bullies to Buddies. The methods advocated in this book are actually very simple and they empower the target of bullying without needing someone else to intervene. The creator of this program also explains what the true motive behind most bullying. Hint: it usually isn\\\’t because the bully feels bad about himself/herself. Answer: he/she is looking for a certain reaction (anger, fear or sadness) from the target. The trick to stopping most bullying is reacting in a way the bully will not expect like with agreement, humor or sincere indifference.The best part about this approach is that it uses the golden rule and complies with the teachings of Jesus. The author/creator is a Jew, but he finds great wisdom in the teachings of the Lord in relating to our “enemies.” There is a print version of this book called “Bullies to Buddies” by Izzy Kalman. It is hard for me to summarize all of the premises in this program, but you can watch a couple of good demos on his website.I tried to submitting a couple of links to his demos, but it won’t let them through.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 17, 2014, 10:08 am

    Thank you, Paula. I agree!

    rk, thank you so much. I’m working on a post about how to REALLY stop bullying because I think I’ve finally, as you said, figured out some things that actually work. I will definitely be looking at this resource! Thanks for the info!

    For those interested, here is the book rk referenced: Bullies to Buddies

    P.S. I haven’t (obviously) read this book, but reading the negative review left gives me some pause. They all seem to reflect the same position, so are probably fairly accurate in their description. Suffice it to say, I don’t think the tactic to use is to try to make the bully your friend or refrain from making her/his actions know.

    Still, I’ll look at the website, etc., to see what I can glean.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Why I’m Not Really All That Grateful to My Birth MotherMy Profile

  • rk March 17, 2014, 3:55 pm

    Alison, that is great that you are looking up more information on this approach. Having read the book many times, I don’t think all the criticisms are quite fair. The author does not blame the victims, he simply teaches more effective approaches to solving bully problems. He also acknowledges that you cannot always make a bully your friend–some people you must steer clear of. Izzy’s point is that child are immature and they do and say dumb things–children can grow and mature. If that happens, perhaps someone who bothered you in the past can become a friend. Also if you treat a bully like you would a friend it will confuse them and they will go away. Izzy’s approach to dealing with bullies is to not react like a bully wants and expects you to i.e. get upset and sad. That just gives the bully a sense of satisfaction for having power over your emotions.
    Since I taught this approach to my son he has not complained about being bullied. He came home recently and told me a kid came up to him and yelled, “You are a jerk!” My son replied dryly, “No, I am a nerd, a dweeb, an idiot, a dork. . .” His friend even added a couple more labels to the list. The bully just got a confused look and walked away. My son thought this was funny. He knew that the score was 0 for the bully and 1 for him because he didn’t get upset. Hasn’t heard from the bully since.

  • Lisa March 17, 2014, 4:56 pm

    I know two people who are currently doing a dissertation on Bullying. Great topic. Now cyber bulling too. I experienced this a couple weeks ago.
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  • Kathleen March 17, 2014, 8:14 pm

    This is a great FHE lesson. I have an adult child who does not go to church anymore because the girls were nice to her in church on Sundays and were rude and bullied her in school through-out the week. Unfortunately, she didn’t share all of it with me until after she stopped going. We really do need to teach our kids from an early age that bullying isn’t a good thing and watching it is also not a good thing.
    Kathleen recently posted…Guidelines for Traveling with KidsMy Profile

  • Annette March 24, 2014, 5:44 pm

    Your daughter is beautiful and she did such a great job! Thanks for sharing my post. :)
    Annette recently posted…Microwave Butterscotch Marshmallow Easter Egg NestsMy Profile

  • Bess November 5, 2014, 3:02 pm

    Thank you for the powerful lesson. This is going into my sharing time.

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