I’m sure that I don’t need to provide a dictionary definition for this topic, as we all can identify a bully. And though this may sound odd, virtually everyone has, or will eventually have to face one at some point in their life. Some may have been lucky enough to face this matter early in their life. And through those experiences have learned how to deal with this situation. Others though exposed to it, have never learned how to effectively deal with this situation. Then there are others who may not see this come about until they’re adults and are either in college or the working world.
I was not exempt from this experience. And for me, the worse thing about it was that it came primarily from my stepdad. Oh, sure I had the school bully too, but compared to my home situation they were amateurs. I’m sure many of you with older siblings can relate to this for it’s much like that but worse since they actually control EVERY aspect of your life!
So here are some statistics on this issue, as reported by the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (American SPCC) americanspcc.org
160,000 kids per day skip school for fear of being bullied.1
When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.2
The 3 B’s of Bullying
- Bullier – 30% of youth admit to bullying
- Bullied – 1 in 3 students bullied at school
- Bystander – 70% have witnessed bullying
28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.3
20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.4
This indicates that 8% are between the 6th and 8th grades.
Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.5
6% of students in grades 6–12 (2008-9 school year) experienced cyberbullying.6
16% of high school students (grades 9–12) (2011 study), were electronically bullied in the past year.7
However, 55.2% of LGBT students experienced cyberbullying.8
These numbers indicate a rising trend, especially towards those identifying with the LGBT sect of our society.
Depending on the environment, some groups of youth based on race, religion, gender and those with disabilities, as well as those that are socially isolated, are at an increased risk of being bullied 9.
So the takeaway here is that our youth face an insurmountable amount of pressure overall, but now it’s complicated with the matter of bullying.
So the question that must be answered is “What can be done about it?”
This is a challenge, but surely not one that can’t be overcome. For this blog, I will address this from the individual and the bystander perspectives, starting off with the bystanders. Under the heading of The 3 B’s of Bullying, it is identified that 70 percent of bullying events are witnessed by someone. This is huge! This means that nearly three-fourths of all bullying is being witnessed by someone outside of the situation. Keep in mind the statistical information above that stated, “When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.2” Now this boils down to a moral or ethical decision for the bystander. Or in other words, this means they must choose to take action to do the upstanding, honorable thing. This DOES NOT imply that response HAS to be a physical one (e.g. going over to the bully and assaulting them). Understandably, the one who confronts the bully must be able to defend themselves as the bully may decide to physically assault them. That in itself may be the single greatest factor, which prevents the bystander from doing anything about it. But there is power or strength in numbers. Therefore, the best way to respond on behalf of the bullied is to bring together a unified group to say that these actions will not be tolerated. Having the means to hold the bully accountable is another major factor. If this is transpiring at school or other public institution there are tools in place, or at least should be in this day and age, to address and hold the individual accountable.
Now I will address this for the individual. The first thing to understand is that the bully is personally challenged and driven to act in this manner. Therefore, it is doubtful that responding in like manner is going to produce a desired outcome; I assure you, that you are not their first victim. They are or likely have been on the receiving end themselves; either from a family member or by an external entity. Bullying is a vicious cycle. My recommended response applies elements from the acronym GROUNDED, which comes from The Young Person’s Survival Manual: How to survive in today’s ever-changing world.
The letter G stands for God. Now I know that there are people of various faiths who will visit this site. So for clarity, I am referring to The Great I AM, Jehovah, YHWH, the Completely Self-Existing One; The God of the Bible and the Hebrews. If you follow another god, then what I’m presenting is likely going to be offensive to you. I assure you that is not my intent. I only know that no other god has ever loved me so much that they were willing to die for me, neither have they walked away from their tombs. So to me, that kind of love and historical evidence serves me to point that I know that I can place my trust and faith in Him. For to me, God is not about religion, but rather relationship. He has told me who I am and His words as my Creator (Elohim) far outweighs whatever insults a human may decide to hurl at me.
The letter R stands for Respect. The matter of respect applies to my respect towards God, myself, and believe it or not, but my bully. It is through my respect for God and His Word, The Bible, that I know that He knows what it is I’m going through. He knows how I should deal with it and has even given instructions in His Word. But I must have enough respect for myself to believe what He has said and I must be willing to follow His guidance. There is a multitude of Scriptures where God identifies who we are in His eyes. Respect for the bully is merely having respect for them as one of God’s creations, just as yourself. God desires that they change their ways and you, believe it or not, could be the means by which He does it.
The next letter is that of O, which stands for being Observant. That means to pay strict attention to a thing. In this case, be observant as to when and where the bully is likely to act out against (exploit) you. If you know of a certain time and place where they always encounter you, either move in a group and let them be your support or find an alternate route or means to bypass. In the Army, sometimes you had to be smart enough to disengage from the enemy, so you could live to fight another day. Life is no different. Sometimes we have to choose our battles. Rather than walk into a sure ambush, change things up. Don’t be predictable and likewise a victim.
The next letter is U for Understanding. This ties in very closely to being observant. Through observation and understanding, it becomes easier to counter an attack. This will come into play with the next letter of the acronym. Through observation, maybe you see or hear from a close friend that your bully is also a victim of bullying or abuse. Or maybe you see that the reason why they bully is because they’re actually intimidated by you because you’re smarter than they are or you come from a loving, non-abusive, non-substance abusing, two-parent family.
Next is the letter N, which stands for New Experiences. The one who repeatedly does the same thing expecting to have a different outcome is practicing insanity. Just a thought here, but my recommendation is DON’T PRACTICE INSANITY! Think about this, how many times have you played a video game only to lose your life at the same point over and over again, because you failed to look at a different way to approach the task or challenge? Yet, once you changed your tactic or approach, or maybe you even asked someone for help, you got farther and possibly overcame the challenge. Well, life is no different. There are two things that come to mind here from God’s word; prayer and kindness. I would recommend both. First prayer – express to God, who is your loving Father, what the issue is. Now you may ask, I thought God was all knowing and therefore, doesn’t He ALREADY know about what I’m going through?! Yes, He does. However, He wants you to share your life with Him. He wants to be intimately involved with our lives, daily; not just on certain days of the year or in a week. The Bible says that we are to also pray for those that despitefully use and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-47). It is also in that same statement that Jesus says, to bless (speak well and positively over them) those who curse you and to do good to those who hate you. Also, though the Bible says to do good (show kindness), wisdom says, don’t show it in a way where it brings attention and embarrassment to them for if it does, the bully will feel as though they have to belittle you and your gesture.
The next letter is D and that stands for Diligence. This means to apply a lot of attention and effort to something. Not just “any” thing but a “special” or “specific” thing. Just like a professional athlete, businessperson, entertainer, artist, etc. gives extensive time to their skill to continually improve it, likewise so should you give special attention to your walk with God and Christ. I mean, after all, everything good you have in life is because of Him and He desires you to have more and not just in a material sense but in EVERY aspect of your life.
Next is the letter E, which represents Education. Now education is not merely limited to what you learn in that place we call school. Education can be attained anywhere. Interestingly, God gives us education every time we dare to open and read His Word or listen to those He has ordained. In fact, you’re receiving education right now! For His word says, that He has given some to be teachers and pastors, as well as apostles, evangelists, prophets, all for the purpose of equipping the saints (those who believe and have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord) (Ephesians 4:11-13). Remember though that education only produces knowledge. Wisdom is what is truly beneficial and that only comes from the application of that knowledge to produce a specific and desired outcome. And finally, though wisdom in itself is good, the best wisdom, is what is attained through God.
The Final letter of the acronym is D, which stands for Daily Effort. Daily effort, is much like diligence only on a broader scope and it simply means that in everything that we do, we must be consistent. We must always apply ourselves to this journey we call life. Daily effort, like diligence is rewarded. As the Apostle Paul said, we have a race to run and therefore we run it with gusto, in faith to win (Hebrews 12:1-2 and II Timothy 4:7).
I think here is a good place to interject the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. He was despised by his own brothers to the point where they had beat him up and originally left him in a pit to die. But then they decided to sell him off as a slave instead because they didn’t want his blood on their hands. Joseph though he suffered many trials and various wrong doings in the process, eventually became Governor (the second in charge behind Pharaoh) over all of Egypt (Genesis 37-50).
So in closing, I hope that you can see the following:
- Those who have been bullied don’t have to remain a victim
- The bully doesn’t have the last say; trusting God with your situation, He will vindicate you.
- There is strength in unity, which is your community
- Though with the world, this may seem to be a daunting and nearly impossible evil of life to overcome, but with God, it can be overcome (Matthew 19:23-30 and Philippians 4:13)
References and Resources:
1 U.S. Dept. of Justice
2 Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D., and Craig, W. M. (2001). Peer interventions in playground bullying. Social Development, 10, 512-527.
3 National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement, 2008–2009
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2011
5 Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36 (3), 361-382.
6 National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement, 2008–2009
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2011.
8 Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
9 Who is at risk? Website Article. Stopbullying.gov. Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying. gov/at-risk/index.html
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1985.
Be blessed, In Him.
Raymond “RD” Kidd
Founder and Executive Director,
New Hope Rising, Inc.