Bullying

Children must be taught kindness at an early age

More and more frequently we read about children taking their own lives, having reached a place where they would rather be dead, than live another hour suffering from bullying. Too often parents and teachers have ignored the problem of bullying, dismissing it as nothing more than “kids will be kids”, and “kids can be cruel”.

The truth is that children, from the earliest of age, can be taught to treat other children with kindness, and encouraged to be sensitive to the plight of other children. The youngest can be taught the importance of sharing their toys, and of including other children in their neighborhood games. Even the smallest child can be taught to treat others as he wishes to be treated, and to report incidences of bullying to his teachers and parents, when he sees it happening to other children.

I believe part of the problem may be, at root level, teachers who were bullying others when they were children, and, transferring that childhood experience into how they perceive some of the children under their care. It is only human to have favorites, and teachers are no exception.

When I taught high school, I had my personal favorites. These were high school students who were bright, challenging, and a joy to teach. Juxtaposed to these young people were students who were perhaps slow learners, less attractive, and, in a nut shell, a pain to deal with. Yet, I also knew that each one of them had potential that needed to be encouraged, and that anyone of them could be a late bloomer, and could, with help and attention, succeed beyond any one’s expectation.

I also, as a teacher, NEVER put up with bullying of any sort. First sign of bullying, I would take the bully aside, and make it perfectly clear that this was behavior that would not be tolerated. I remember to this very day a middle school teacher who bullied me, and because this was done in front of my classmates, he encouraged children to bully me, as well. I suffered from dyslexia during a time when little was known about this learning disability, so, like other dyslexics, I was a poor student. My own struggle to compensate made me a public speaker who rarely needed a manuscript, and this translated into my becoming a champion high school and college debater.

Because I also grew tall (6″1″) in a very short period of time, I was uncoordinated as a junior and senior high school student, so was poor in sports. It was not until college that I actually discovered athletic abilities that had previously remained dormant, and took up weight lifting, long distance running, baseball, and volleyball. As a high school teacher, I led the faculty in winning, for the very first time, the traditional volleyball game against the senior class, much to the delight of the underclassmen.

My own youthful struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, revolving around my perceived failures, and my sense of hopelessness, was offset by one single high school teacher who took me under her wing, and helped me become a champion debater. She believed in me when no one else would. All it takes is that one person, willing to reach out to the child who is suffering. Or, the one child who learns from his parents the importance of treating the bullied child with kindness, and stepping up to defend, and befriend, that child.

Children are all wonderful gifts from God, who are pliable and open, ready to learn from the adults who are their parents, teachers, pastors, and neighbors. They depend on us for comfort, support, AND protection. They are in our care, and God expects us to take this responsibility very seriously. They are the future of our country, our Church, and our world, and must be taught the importance of being kind and generous towards others.

The child that is raised in the ways of the Lord, will in turn raise his/her child in the ways of God. Let us not pass on the sins and failures one generation into the generations to come. Let peace, love, justice, and charity be the hallmark of what we pass on to the next generation, and let us, most importantly, instill in our children the love of Christ.

Finally, let me say this: Many who were bullied as children, grow up bullying others. The pain of having suffered as children never really left them, and rather than becoming loving protectors of others as adults, they become bullies themselves. That some of these individuals who were bullied children are now parents, teachers, police officers, or even clergy, makes it all the more tragic.

No one deserves to be bullied, whether they are an employee bullied at the hands of their boss, a student badly treated by her teacher, a priest bullied by his bishop, or a child bullied by his dad, it is behavior that will one day necessitate being held accountable before the Throne of God.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Fr. Michael & Matushka Lillian Lupu of St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church in Calgary, Alberta, and Fr. David & Matushka Janene Wey of Sts Constantine and Helen Romanian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, IN., made a pilgrimage to the Monastery.

Tuesday June 5, 2018 / May 23, 2018
2nd Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Fish Allowed

Venerable Michael the Confessor, bishop of Synnada (818).
Uncovering of the relics (1164) of St. Leontius, bishop and wonderworker of Rostov (1077).
Synaxis of All Saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl: Bishop Leontius (1073), Bishop Isaiah, wonderworker (1090), Bishop Ignatius (1288), Bishop James (1391), Archbishop Theodore (1394), Metropolitan Demetrius (1709), Archimandrite Abraham the wonderworker (1073-1077), Monk Irinarchus the Hermit (1616). Prince Basil ( 1238), Peter, Tsarevich of Ordynsk (1290) Blessed Isidore, Fool-for-Christ (1474) Blessed John of the Hair-Shirt (the Merciful), Fool-for-Christ (1580); Yaroslav Wonderworkers: Princes Basil (1249), Constantine (1257), Theodore (1299) and his sons David (1321) and Constantine (XIV); Pereslavl Wonderworkers: Monk Nikita the Stylite (1186), Monk Daniel the Archimandrite (1540), Prince Alexander Nevsky (1263), Prince Andrew of Smolensk (15th c.); Uglich Wonderworkers: Monk Paisius (1504), Monk Cassian (1504), Monk Ignatius of Lomsk (1591), Prince Roman (1285), Tsarevich Demetrius (1591); Poshekhonsk Wonderworkers: Monk Sylvester of Obnora (1379), Monk Sebastian (1542), Hieromartyr Adrian (1550), Monk Gennadius of Liubimograd and Kostroma (1565).
Venerable Euphrosyne, princess of Polotsk (1173).
Venerable Paisius, abbot, of Galich (1463).
Martyr Michael “the black-robed” of St. Sabbas’ Monastery (9th c.).
Uncovering of the relics of Virgin-martyrs Eudocia, Daria, Daria, and Mary (2001).
Holy Myrrh-bearer Mary, wife of Cleopas.
Martyr Salonas the Roman (Greek).
Martyr Seleucus (Greek).
Venarable Damiane (King Demetrius) (1157) (Georgia).
St. Ioannicius I, archbishop of Serbia (1270).

The Scripture Readings

Romans 4:4-12

4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

David Celebrates the Same Truth

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

Abraham Justified Before Circumcision

9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while stilluncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

Matthew 7:15-21

You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

One comment:

  1. I experienced a lot of bullying when I was a teen. I agree with your idea about teachers. It’s complicated for sure. Some bullies I have managed, through fb, to make peace with. Others, not that easy. Good luck to everyone as they deal with this.

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