The headline on the “HealthWatch” insert in my local newspaper on Sunday read, “Studies show being bullied impacts adults years later.” I had one of those “DUH” moments when I read that. Do you ever have those? You see something that seems more than obvious being stated as a surprising new revelation. Something that should be common sense, but we have to pay for a scientific study to verify it.
Okay, maybe my sarcasm is coming out a little too much. But really, of course we know that children who are bullied carry the effects of that mistreatment into their adult years. That’s why we have the over-the-top ad campaigns against bullying, right?
The article discusses a study from the U.K. which examined data on several thousand people who were born during the same week in 1958. Now in their 50s, the subjects who were bullied as kids have a significantly higher incidence of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicide. In addition, “Childhood bullying victimization was associated with a lack of social relationships, economic hardship, and poor perceived quality of life at age 50.”
Now, this was, of course, a secular study, not taking into account the spiritual condition of the test subjects at any given time. I would be interested to see how those who are Christians have fared versus those who have no relationship with the Lord. I would imagine that the ones with Christ in their lives are doing better emotionally and psychologically than others.
At any rate, I have some thoughts about the bullying craze that has swept our nation, and apparently the world.
When I was growing up, I never heard the first song or saw the first commercial telling me not to be a bully. Did you? And do you know what? Still I knew that I shouldn’t bully people.
Now we are absolutely bombarded by the anti-bullying campaign in the media, yet by all accounts bullying seems to have increased many-fold. I have to wonder why there is such a focus on bullying these days and why the anti-bullying efforts seem to be failing.
When I was going through school, I was picked on occasionally. It hurt a lot at the time, and it still stings now when I think about it. But I’ve grown and matured and have allowed the Lord to bring about good where the devil intended to harm me. I forgave the perpetrators, and now I understand that “hurting people hurt people.” The people who made fun of me or “bullied” me probably did so out of their own feelings of inadequacy or fear or jealousy or something of the sort.
I grew up in public schools in the Bible Belt. While the Bible had already long since been outlawed in public schools by the time I came along, there was still a sort of underlying respect for Christianity in most of my schools. I remember many of my teachers being strong, outspoken Christians.
I think one reason for what seems to be an epidemic in bullying is that God and His Word have been completely kicked out of many public schools. Teachers have been fired for speaking about their faith in their jobs. God is no longer welcome in many schools, and where He isn’t present, the devil will reign.
It is no longer acceptable to teach kids to “love your neighbor” and tell them the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate it. “Love one another” is in the Bible, so of course it isn’t allowed to be taught.
On another note, I think bullying is a symptom of a larger problem: the breakdown of the family. This is just a guess, but I would be willing to bet that if a study were done of those who are bullies, many are from broken homes or were born out of wedlock and have been raised without a father. That is certainly the case among the majority of people who end up in prisons.
Kids need their mother and their father. When those relationships are torn apart or were never intact in the first place, a myriad of consequences occur, and I can imagine that many kids act out their pain in the form of hurting other people.
You might think this is a stretch, but I believe another issue is related to bullying: the culture of abortion that has infested our country. It is well documented that the incidence of child abuse has skyrocketed since abortion was legalized in 1973. When a nation begins to view its most vulnerable members as disposable, all life is thereby devalued and a general atmosphere of disrespect for others results. We live in a “me” world, where personal responsibility is lacking and “consequences” for our actions can seemingly be erased.
Mother Teresa said, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
And what is bullying, if not a destroyer of love and peace? People using violence to get what they want or mistreating others to ease their own pain.
Along those lines, as our nation continues its tailspin into deeper and deeper immorality, and sin is not only tolerated but celebrated, it’s little wonder to me that many kids today have no moral compass to guide them. Kids, left to their own, will make poor choices. They need adults in their lives to teach them how to be loving, responsible, kind, generous, patient, peaceful, and self-controlled (sound a little like Galatians 5:22-23 to you?).
So, yeah, we have a bullying symptom, but what we really have is a sin problem. The sooner we turn back to the Lord and His Word, the sooner our young people will see the inherent value in their classmates and act accordingly.