In my last blog I introduced a two part series on bullying. In it we discussed the belief “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
We discovered that kids and research tell us this just isn’t true. Talk to a child who has been bullied at school and you’ll discover they don’t feel stronger. You will most likely discover a child who has lost hope and either fallen into depression or become violent.
This week we will look at a second potentially confused belief; that we should “Turn the other cheek”.
Did you know that the “Turn the other cheek” saying comes from the bible?
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
This quote is from the book of Matthew.
But in the book of John you will see that Jesus defended himself verbally when he was slapped on the face. Jesus was being wrongly accused of things, he was alone, isolated and being hassled, even physically, and he defended himself verbally. He didn’t offer the other cheek, he defended himself with words in a bold but non abusive way. You can see that story in John 18:19-23
So it seems the guy who made up this rule, Jesus himself, did not mean we shouldn’t respectfully defend ourselves. So turning the other cheek seems to be more about not returning insult for insult in retaliation, which is what most people expect.
That’s intersting, because there are three ways to respond to a bully: by giving in (being meek), hurting back (being aggressive), and standing up (being assertive).
- Being meek doesn’t work – it makes you look like a target
- Being combative doesn’t work- it makes you look like a target….and…
- Fighting a bully never works – they will come back for more, with one of their mates, it’s dangerous, and against school rules
- Standing up for yourself works – if you don’t stand up for yourself the bully will always take more ground
This is what standing up to bullies can look like:
- Bullies want to knock you down or start a fight. Deny them this by staying calm and positive.
- Look them in the eyes
- Use their name
- Maintain an appropriate distance from the bully
- Use good body language – more of this below
- Use non provocative words – more on this below also
- Avoid name calling and finger pointing
- Use a calm, even voice, loud enough to be heard properly
- Keep it simple and brief
- Avoid being alone…in another time when jesus was accused he was left alone by his accuser because there were other with him. You appear less vulnerable when you are with others.
- Cyberbullying – ignore and block
Good Body language – Tower don’t Cower
I mention using good body language above…here are some ideas:
- stand up straight
- chest out instead of in
- steady eye contact with level chin
- walk with purpose and energy
- look confident while seated
- girls: don’t carry your books by hugging them to your chest, which makes your shoulders curl forward.
Non Provocative Comeback Lines
- “Ok I heard, and I don’t care”
- “Are you finished?”
- “Yeah right”
- “Bla, bla, bla”
Many instances of bullying have been safely halted with words of conviction spoken with boldness, even when the person felt scared while saying them:
- “I Don’t agree, stop now!”
- “No, you have said enough!”
And here is some assertive lines:
- “I disagree with you. I see the situation this way.”
- “You may be right”, but actually here is what I think”
- “I would like you to respect my point of view.”
- “I feel offended by your remark.”
Certain situations call for a policy statement. In a policy statement, you simply express your core beliefs about an issue:
“My policy is ____ (not to do this or that).” It’s hard to argue with a policy statement. It’s your policy!
A final idea is to ask a good question, something like: “That sounded mean…what’s up”, or “why do you say that”, or “what do you believe”?
Choose positivity to protect their hearts
Choosing positivity is a key technique we need to choose, and help out teens choose, to protect their hearts.
The following technique, called the Trash Can Technique is a great way to implement this:
The Trash Can Technique helps to take the power out of hurting words by saying them, catching them, and imagining throwing them away.
For example, if someone says, “I don’t like you, ” you can throw those words away and say, “I like myself.” If someone says, “You are stupid” you can throw those words away and say, “I’m smart.” If someone says, “I don’t want to play with you” then you can throw those words away and say, “I will find another friend.”
We probably all need to be doing better and speaking positivity into our own souls. Hopefully the above helps, and hopefully this second blog on bullying has given you some ideas at least, on how to engage bullying when you see it.
Any comments, just fire them in below.