What Does the Bible Say About Bullying?
Here are several verses that can help you have a conversation with your child about bullying. Ways to deal with a bully, how to stand up to bullies, and standing up for others.
1 John 2:9
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”
In this verse, John is addressing the fellowship Christians are called to have with God. His statement is very simple and direct. Those who are followers of Christ cannot harbor hatred towards their fellow man.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Paul is writing to Timothy at this time, who was afraid of being a leader for the church, to encourage him. To let him know that he is not alone in his mission. In later parts of the chapter, Paul talks more about the importance of Christ’s followers to stand strong with the power of the Holy Spirit. He also speaks to the responsibility of pairing love and self-discipline with power.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
At this time Moses is addressing the people knowing that they were soon to engage in the wars of Canaan. Giving them encouragement to not fear the battles and hardships they were sure to face.
Not only that, Moses was trying to fortify their resolve as many were concerned they would be forsaken once Moses left. Instead, he reminds them to trust in God. That it was not about Moses leading them, it was about their Lord and God.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The main comment that Paul was trying to battle in this verse is the phrase “I just couldn’t help saying it.” Instead, we do have control and are always accountable to the things we say. So he offers these two simple frameworks for us to remember when thinking about what we’re going to say.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
In Romans, Paul is reminding the people of one of Jesus’ core principles that we cannot seek to get vengeance. We should strive to maintain our peace and let God be the one to decide justice and retribution for a person’s actions.
Teaching Your Child to Respond Bullying Like Christ
It can be difficult talking about bullying with your child. It can even be difficult to just get them to open up and communicate that they’re having troubles. As parents, we try to give our children the opportunities to open up to us and create the safety that they feel comfortable to talk with us.
Talking to them in Advance About Bullies
One of the first steps you can take is to talk to your child and prepare them in advance. Talk to them about how to recognize the signs of bullying. And help them understand that they can come to you. Let them know that there are all kinds of bullying.
- Physical bullying – A person intimidates and harms through physical force
- Verbal bullying – Berating, threatening, demeaning, and derogatory comments
- Cyberbullying – Verbal threats, and other online forms of harassment
- Social bullying – Excluding a person intentionally from social groups and even telling others to not be friends with a person.
Shift Away from a Victim Mentality
Talking with your child to get out of the mindset that they are the victim is a strong way to thinking about “why me.” Instead, encourage them to think about what may be causing this other person to be a bully. This will set them up not let the bullies impact their self-esteem, and set the right mindset for how to respond and deal with bullies.
Creating Appropriate Bully Responses
Depending on what type of bullying your child is dealing with, there are different ways to cope in a Christian manner. And this is something you and your child should talk about and work on together. What’s important to keep in mind is who you are in Christ, to make sure your child knows they are never alone, and not let it become seeking revenge.
Some positive tactics they can use are rallying with their friends. This helps your child remember they are not alone, and creates a better support system who are often closer when bullying can happen and can stand up for each other.
There are also online communities that your child can see are trying to stop the bullying with awareness campaigns and creating a change in social culture. https://www.stopbullying.gov/
How to Encourage Your Child to Stand Up for Others
Going back to Timothy and Deuteronomy mentioned above. It is just as important for our children to know how to stand up for others who are being bullied as it is to be able to stand up for themselves. Talk to your kids about how as followers of Christ it is important to be a voice for those who are being bullied. Here are some simple steps they can take.
- If You See Something Say Something – Just letting a person of authority know someone is being bullied can make a big difference.
- Talking with the Victim – Just letting a person being bullied know that they are not alone is powerful. And can even save a life.
Here are some other resources you can check out to help start a conversation with your kid, teach them to deal with bullies, and create a Christian mentality for bullies.