Jump directly to the content

When Bullying Becomes Spiritual Warfare


Jul 31 2014
Insults and intimidation threaten children’s perceptions of God.

Conversations on bullying and its effects on the psychological health of our children have intensified in recent years. State legislatures have mandated procedures for investigating suspected acts of harassment or intimidation. Teachers now receive training on how to recognize bullying in schools.

Missing from these discussions, though, are the spiritual dynamics that belay the bullying experience. If Christian parents are to better serve as advocates for their children, they may consider bullying as both a psychological event and a form of spiritual warfare.

As secular institutions, public schools have policies to address bullying behaviors. These have emerged from a heightened awareness of the psychological damage caused by extreme bullying. Concerned parents should take advantage of available resources by partnering with school officials and working together to develop strategies for the physical and emotional safety of the targeted child. Apt guidance counselors can also help by supporting the child's self-esteem and connecting her with affirming peers.

As Christians, our faith provides a deeper perspective on the dynamics that undergird bullying; this perspective sees human behaviors as expressions of the mind, body and spirit. While most approaches to bullying focus on altering behaviors or personal choices, we see a third option involving the human soul. Lasting solutions to bullying are spiritually based; they require the offender to earnestly acknowledge wrongdoing, to feel remorse, and to alter former patterns of thinking and doing. They require repentance.

In Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for repentance, metanoiō, means "to change the way you think." This understanding places inextricable ties among what we think, how we behave, and who we are becoming. This is why bullying is so pernicious. At its fullest expression, it represents one person's resolve to harm another by inducing emotional chaos and a persistent threat of harm.

Because of this, solutions to bullying must be ethically based as to set positive examples of what constitutes "being good." They must also carry weight by establishing behavioral boundaries and consequences to communicate that good is also powerful. At a time when belligerence is culturally glorified, it is not unusual for kindness to be interpreted as weakness and politeness as a lack of strength. Children who bully must see and be taught that there is gratification in giving and receiving empathy. In short, the value of good must be perceived and personally desired if any substantive change is to take place.

Related Topics:Children; Education; Parenting; Youth
From: July 2014
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

In her latest book, Shauna Niequist trades “competition, comparison, and exhaustion for meaning, connection, and unconditional love."
After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

I equip my daughters to protect themselves and their bodies in ways I didn’t learn to.
Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

I know from experience what happens when children face moving, divorce, or other stressful life change—and how we can help them.
The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

After interviewing 120 women, I saw glimmers of a truce in the Mommy Wars.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • The lovely @sniequist is chatting with us today! (Interview by @AndreaPalpant) https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb
  • RT @lorewilbert: I LOVE this short piece from @gloriafurman on discipling younger women. Sharing life and speaking the word: https://t.co/c2026
  • RT @RealPeopleAct: The more we learn about porn, the more we discover how bad it is for our brains, our bodies, and our relationships. http2026
  • RT @mfarrellgarcia: After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids? https://t.co/yVTZOmLKNc via @CT_Women
  • Researcher @hgscott talks about the widespread effects of Internet porn https://t.co/OkRrIc78rG


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
When Bullying Becomes Spiritual Warfare