When his 12-year-old daughter was excluded at school and experienced name-calling and harmful gossip, Tony realized his daughter was being bullied.
As millions of children head back to school this year, more than one in five of them will have a similar experience, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And in a national study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 21% of tweens said they had been a target, aggressor or witness to bullying online or by other electronic means.
As parents search for ways to protect their children, a growing group of families are turning to an unlikely source for practical guidance: the Bible.
Tony talked with his daughter about helpful scriptural principles they learned through their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I encouraged my daughter to pray for courage,” said Tony, who attends a congregation in Los Alamitos. They also reviewed Bible verses that help identify the qualities of true friends.
They also went to jw.org, the Witnesses’ official website, where a search for the term bullying brought up a wealth of free resources including videos, articles, worksheets and other online activities on topics young people face at school. Those resources include a whiteboard animation entitled, “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists” and an animated cartoon about the powerful effect of prayer for those who are being bullied.
Tony’s daughter can now sense when bullying may occur and takes steps to avoid the situation. “I pray for courage,” said the 12-year-old.
She also followed the practical steps outlined in the jw.org whiteboard animation “Be Social-Network Smart” to protect herself on social media. These resources helped her to tell her parents immediately after the bullying began.
“Not every situation resolves so easily. But applying the Bible’s advice and focusing on the big picture can help individuals cope and maintain their sense of self-worth,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The Bible has proven to be a practical resource for many families to navigate difficult situations in life,” said Hendriks. “The principles found in this ancient book can help adults and children resolve conflict and maintain peaceful relationships with others.”
Principles like the so-called Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated, showing love and being slow to anger are tools Tony said help his family in many circumstances. “She’s making progress and is motivated to do good and avoid negative association,” Tony said.