Set up six small clay flowerpots to form a pyramid. Write names that bullies might use on baseballs or rocks. Also have available a bottle of glue.
Bullying can take many forms, and most people do not understand its effects on people. (Ask a couple of the women to take the balls and throw them at the clay pots. The goal is to break the pots.) Just as the balls break the pots, bullying can break a person. People who are bullied are more likely to consider suicide.
Of course, I can take this glue and try to fix the clay pots. I might be able to fix them so no one can tell that they were even broken. However, they will never be as good as they were before. It is the same with bullying. People who are bullied can look fine on the outside, but they will never be the same on the inside. Never to break the pots in the first place is the best solution. That is why we are going to learn a few strategies to help prevent bullying.
What is Bullying?
- Give the women some scenarios and have them discuss whether they consider this bullying. Make sure you cover the most popular forms of bullying: verbal, social, physical and cyber. Example: A woman is trying to buy a snack from a machine. The machine will not accept the dollar. One person says, “Maybe God is trying to tell you something.” Everyone laughs. Is this bullying? Why or why not?
- Am I a bully? Some people do not realize that their behavior is in fact bullying. There is a quiz at http://www.togetheragainstbullying.org/bullying-self-assessment, which helps to identify this tendency. This site also has related videos and other resources.
- Ask the women to discuss how bullying can affect someone’s life. They may have real life stories that they would be willing to share.
- Training – Visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/training-center. This website has training for preventing bullying.
- Guest Speaker—Contact the local high school to inquire about a speaker on this subject. Most schools have staff trained in this area.
- Have the women discuss ways in which a person can stop bullying. Examples: Speak up when it is happening: think before you speak, encourage people, look for signs that bullying is taking place.
Sticks and Stones
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This is a famous phrase that we have all heard. We may have used it when someone called us a silly or hurtful name. The phrase first appeared in in a publication called The Christian Reporter in 1862.
It has become a famous comeback line that kids use at playgrounds and siblings tell each other when someone calls them a nasty name. But to be honest, words do hurt. When someone says something to us in jest or trying to be funny, it does hurt. We may not show it on the outside but inside we are feeling pain. Making fun of someone is a form of bullying. It may not be considered physical bullying, but it is bullying nevertheless. In fact, it can be a lot more harmful than being punched in the arm.
Bullying has always been a problem among kids. Social media sites like Facebook have made cyber–bullying a big issue, especially among teenagers. Some people have committed suicide because of cyber–bullying. We get mad when we read about these stories on the Internet, yet we may be guilty of bullying other people. We sometimes say mean things to our kids or to our spouses or other loved ones. We may not be aware of the damage that our words may have on other people.
What kind of struggles are you going through because of the bullying you faced when you were younger or perhaps you face today? Bullying affects the self–esteem of people. It makes us lose confidence in ourselves. It makes us feel inferior to those who bully us. The scripture for today’s devotional deals with the sense of hopelessness we face when we are surrounded by people who appear to be out to get us.
Read Palms 43. In verse 1 the writer asks God to rescue him from his enemies. It’s obvious that he feels overwhelmed by his enemies to the point that he feels God has abandoned him, (verse 2). We all want people to like us and to accept us for who we are. When people call us a nasty name or make fun of us, it hurts. Sometimes the pain is so intense that we feel hopeless and depressed.
We have all heard the saying that water rolls off a duck’s back. Ducks (and most waterfowl) have a special gland near the tail called the “preen gland” that produces a waterproof mixture of oils and waxes. The process of preening spreads this oil over the feathers so the water does not weigh the ducks down but rolls right off them. This is a great example of how our lives can be when we have God living in our heart. The nasty things that people say or do to us can roll off our backs when we turn them over to the Lord. Don’t allow anyone to take away your joy and happiness. God will be the source of all our joy (verses 3 and 4).
Have the women decide on a follow up application. Here are some ideas:
- Write notes to anyone that you may have bullied to say you are sorry.
- Talk to your children about bullying.
- Speak up if you know someone who is being bullied.
- Take a vow to be more conscious of what you are saying or doing to others. Be an example.