As another year of school is ending, a story of a bully has surfaced in Belgium. This most shocking story made the news.
On the 26th of June 2012, Kayleigh who is 13 years old, was the victim of bullying while she was waiting for her bus in Roeselare, Belgium. Two of the bullies have filmed the poor girl’s ordeal with their mobile phone and have uploaded it to YouTube. The film has been removed but you can still see it on Facebook, where it has been shared over a 65,000 times. It is Kayleigh who wanted to keep this video in circulation with the help of her mother, so she could start a petition against bullying. I, as a parent and as a victim of bullying in the past , am appalled! Take a look for yourself on Facebook.
Now, did you watch it? Did anything catch your eye? No one was helping the girl. Kids were staring, adults were passing by, yet nobody made it stop, they all just watched and let it happen.
If you are like the average person you neither encourage nor act to stop bullying when you see it happening.
A small percentage of people will jump in and join the bullying or will cheer the bully on. An even smaller percentage of people will actively get involved to stop the bullying. But the most common response people have when they see bullying is to do nothing.
Inaction is like adding fuel to the bullying fire. A bully likes an audience because the bully can control those who watch by creating the fear that they could be next. The people who join in with a bully may seem to be offering a bully the most positive reinforcement but in reality it is the vast majority of people who do nothing that keep that bully bullying.
Now as a Christian, I believe that we are called to play an unusual role in dealing with bullies. It is not a role the world plays—filled with anger and vengeance. It is not a role of passivity. It is not a role of hate. In other words, it’s not easy.
We are called to love our enemies, to pray for them, but to stand firm against unrighteousness and injustice. We are called to draw a line in the sand about our beliefs. We aren’t aggressive, but we are assertive. We aren’t boastful, but we are confident about our God’s wishes for His people. Most importantly, we can’t ignore the problem. remember that Jesus did not stand back and simply watch others being bullied. He had the courage to step in and stop it. Do you remember the story of the adulterous woman who was brought before him in John 8? The Pharisees thought they would trap Jesus with a little “holy bullying.” They dragged the adulteress before Him. The woman had even been caught in the act. The Pharisees were ready to stone her. With stones in hand, they confronted Jesus. Even at the risk of physical harm, Jesus did not back down. He defended the woman until one by one, her accusers left. Then he offered her words of love and hope.
Ignoring a true bully doesn’t make the bullying stop. It just fuels his or her need for power. So what does help? First, pray for God’s wisdom in the situation. Understand that God loves you, and all His people, and wants not one of His children to be victimized in any way. Then, if there are physical threats or violence, get to somewhere safe and tell someone in authority. If the bullying is of an emotional nature, determine to respectfully take a stand on what you believe God is calling you to do. If it’s important enough, then be strong.
While that’s not a guarantee a bully will back down, it’s a start to developing a bully-proof life. Really, it’s a start to building moral courage in your heart. And bullies can’t stand that.
I believe God calls us to a life of passion for His people, and sometimes that takes moral courage. In fact, it’s going to take a lot of moral courage to address the injustices in this world. And it’s going to take a righteous indignation like Jesus had about the temple money changers. And it just might start with facing the bully in your life.