Protect against bullying, teach respect

The only thing that makes kids excited to get back to school is to see their friends. Girls run and hug each other and catch up — as if they had not been texting and snapchatting, Facebooking, Instagramming one another every detail of every day. Boys want to see their buddies, too. Fist bumps, high fives. They likely spent less time sharing details about their day to day experiences. They maybe played Fortnight a billion times with friends online. But that is about it.

That brings me to a topic that, in my opinion, never gets old.

We often forget about the kids who come back to school feeling anxiety they will be left out again. Or the kid who is new to the school may be scared of fitting in initially.

Parents don’t even think about it unless they know their kid is the one suffering. Here’s a thought. What if we encouraged our kids to be the friend and step out of his or her comfort zone? What if we told our kids it is ok to befriend the kid who has different interests, even different politics (gasp! Did I just mention politics in a parenting column?).

Here is why I say that.

Adults are biggest bullies out there.

You heard me. (Or in this case, you read me.)

Why are we so shocked that kids are bullies? Why are we so shocked that the kids who get bullied come back to school in revenge with a gun and shoot everyone they can?

It all comes back to a group of angry adults. Go on social media for one whole day. The majority of posts is someone raging about someone or something. They don’t like certain people. They hate the president. They hate government. They hate former presidential female candidates. They hate police. They hate Muslims. They hate immigrants. They hate liberals. They hate conservatives. They hate Christians.

Hate. Hate. Hate.

Now ask yourself why kids are being bullied again? Kids live by example. And often when there is hate, we as a society return the hate as revenge. The hurt of being hated infuriates us. It sits deep until like a volcano it spews.

We have a choice.

Bullying exists everywhere. Every school. Public schools. Private Christian schools. And yes, cyber bullying exists.

“So what is the point, lady?” you ask.

You can teach your kids differently today. Starting today you can explain to your kids that everyone deserves respect: peers and teachers and staff alike. You can teach them that if they are treated badly they have a choice to retaliate, to be silent and stuff the pain inside, or to look within themselves and realize they are better than the words and abuse. And they need to look at their bully and realize he or she is lacking. Someone in his or her life taught hate. Someone in this kid’s life caused pain. And his or her hurt is vomiting on everyone else. It’s called compassion for the enemy.

“Wait, you want me to teach my kid to love his enemy?”

Yes. And this doesn’t mean giving the big jerk a hug and a kiss. It means try to understand why he is such a jerk. And thank God you are not like that.

Does that mean the big jerk will stop being a big jerk? Probably not. Kids need to understand life is not one big rainbow room of flowers and happy trees and unicorns. People are mean and hateful. That is a fact. We can be just like them or we can walk away with confidence in ourselves and empathy for the hurting. The more hate we return with hate, the cycle just continues. The number of school shootings keeps climbing, and I am not surprised. The cycle of retaliation and unprocessed hurts keeps spinning.

Parents, it is up to us.

Talk to your kids about their relationships at school. Talk to them about their friends. Talk to them about their enemies. And report anything that causes concern for the welfare of others. Keep the door of communication open. Let them know they can make a difference by being kind, confident and honest.

And let her know she can share that message in person, through text and all of social media while describing every little detail of her day…

Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”