Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29
Bullying, it’s a word that parents dread and something that a great many people have had to deal with.
Bullying is not itself a new phenomenon, but it has taken on a new sense of urgency and significance in recent years. Sadly, we have grown used to headlines reporting the tragic stories of young people taking their lives as a result of bullying. It is tragic and devastates not only family and friends, but also the community. We are praying for change
Spunout.ie have identified six basic types of bullying – Verbal, Physical, Gesture, Exclusion, Extortion and Cyber Bullying.
According to The Leitrim Observer, Ciara Pugsley committed suicide in the woods near her home in September 2012 after incessant bullying on her Ask.fm page. Just a month after Ciara’s death, Erin Gallagher another Irish teenager took her own life after her harassment ordeal did not stop. Only two months after Erin died, her older sister, Shannon also committed suicide. According to local reports Shannon missed her sister.
Then there is Nicole Fox Fenlon from Dublin who at 21 years of age, felt she had no escape from the bullying but to take her own life in January 2018 and more recently, only a few weeks ago in September, we hear about a young man, Eden Heaslip from Co Cavan, at the young age of 18, took his own life because he was being bullied.
This list names just a few.
As Christine Wynne, coordinator at Sosad Cavan said in the Anglo Celt after Eden’s death “Bullying is wrong in all formats and is never justifiable. The realisation of a funeral is the reality of where bullying can lead to and needs to be stamped out now,”
Nowhere to hide
There was a time when you knew who the bullies were and who to avoid. If you were bullied thirty years ago it would not have been broadcast out to a million people on Facebook or put up on Twitter. As the social life of young people has moved onto the Internet, so has bullying, with electronic bullying becoming a significant problem in the last decade.
Young people who are contemplating taking their own life, may become moody, appear hopeless, experience changes in personality. Sometimes contact with other people is severed and there is a loss of interest in normal activities.
Trouble sleeping can also be a warning sign and so can loss of appetite
A Christian perspective
Unrestricted bullying erodes a child’s belief in a loving God, as well as his/her own sense of dignity, value and worth – all gifts from God, in whose image we are made. Those who bully display behaviour that is forbidden by God: disdain and contempt for others due to real or perceived differences.
No other behaviour harms a school’s reputation, parent relations and ability to educate more than unrestrained bullying. It opposes the moral obligation to provide a safe, mistreatment-free, and nurturing environment in which students can learn, grow in faith and become productive and faithful contributors to society.
Thankfully combating bullying strengthens the best in us as well. When students learn how to stand against bullying it grows their capacity for empathy, compassion and related value, especially civic and spiritual courage. From a Christian perspective young people who are victims of bullying are among the oppressed that God calls us to help with acts of kindness and mercy, but especially of courage.
Bullying needs to be seen through the Christian perspective of love and caring for our neighbour. As we learn to love our neighbour we can respond in a more compassionate way. We have a responsibility to live in relation to each other as God’s image bearers, with the call to humbly seek and practise mercy and justice as servants of Christ in the world.
Written by Marie – Therese Cryan