We Must Respond to Bullying

We must end bullying by teaching children 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 the 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 nutshell, 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 guidance and attention, succeed beyond expectations.

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 skilled debater in high school and college.

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 a poor athlete (I haven’t lost the inches, they just relocated). It was not until college that I actually discovered athletic abilities that had previously remained dormant, so 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 underclassman.

My own youthful struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, revolved around my perceived failures and sense of hopelessness, but 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, and all it took was that one teacher willing to reach out to a kid with low self-esteem.

That one child who is taught by his parents the importance of treating a bullied school mate with kindness, and even stepping up to defend and befriend them, can be life changing for both children.

Children are wonderful gifts from God, and are pliable and open, always ready to learn from the adults in their lives, whether they are their parents, teachers, pastors, or neighbors. They depend on us for comfort, direction, support, AND protection. They are in our care, and God expects us to take this responsibility very seriously. These children 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 children in the ways of God. Let us not pass on the sins and failures of our generation into the generation. We adults need to make sure peace, love, justice, and charity become the hallmarks of what we pass on to the next generation. Most importantly, we must instill in our children the love of God, and the desire to treat everyone we meet with respect and kindness.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday November 23, 2019 / November 10, 2019
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Apostles Erastus, Olympas, Herodion, Sosipater, Quartus, and Tertius of the Seventy (1st c.).
New Hieromartyr Niphont and Martyr Alexander (1931).
New Hieromartyrs Prokopius (Titov) archbishop of Odessa, Dionisius, John and Peter priests (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Augustine (Belyaev), archbishop of Kaluga (1937) and with him John priest, New Hieromartyrs Ioanicius, Martyr Alexis, Appolon, Michael (1937).
Martyr Nicholas and Virgin-martyr Anna and St. Boris deacon confessor (1930-1940).
Virgin-martyrs Olga (1941) and Theoctista (1942).
Martyr Orestes of Cappadocia (304).
Hieromartyr Milos (Miles), bishop in Persia (341), and two disciples.
Venerable Theocteristus, abbot of Symbola on Mt. Olympus.
Martyr Constantine, grand prince of Kartli, Georgia (852).
Commemoration of the torture of Great-martyr George in 303. (Georgia).
St. Nonnus, bishop of Heliopolis (471).
Translation of the relics of St. Gregory, presbyter, in Assos of Lesbos (Greek).
St. Eucharius, first bishop of Trier (3rd c.).

The Scripture Readings

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Excel in Giving

8 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Luke 9:37-43

A Boy Is Healed

37 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. 38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. 40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”

41 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

43 And they were all amazed at the majesty of God.

But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples.

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.

10 comments:

  1. I know a Catholic nun in Mother Theresa’s order who was a teacher and h.s. principal in India. She has a 4-point plan for kids: Sharing, Modesty, Forgiveness, Self Control/Denial. (That last one is emotions as well as desire for things.) Also, she says we have to start when they’re 3-4 yrs old. First grade is too late in today’s world.

    Her name is Sr Anne Terese, a tough old sister in the Bronx. She told me “Pass it on”, and so I do.

  2. Yes, I agree with your comments being a parent and grandparent. It is important the bully is curbed as soon as possible because he will take that horrible behavior and thinking into his adult years, including his marriage, employment and social life – more or less. As well, his/her soul is in turmoil affecting souls around him/her.

    Having said that, we now seem to have a system which can be very one-sided and even teachers and other professionals steer away from speaking up or disciplining students under their watch. This watch now has limits which intimidate and make one fearful of lawsuits and being dismissed from their employment if seen as a complainer or bully themselves. This is very sensitive area now – with so many rights and privileges that are over the top and parents and schools not working together but against one another.

    God bless…..

  3. Father bless,

    Last night before I went to bed and this morning as soon as I got up, I made the sign of the Cross and asked the Lord to grant me discernment. I’m at somewhat of a crossroads in my life right now, and have been trying to decide whether to become an electrician or a teacher; the latter has been a prospect for me for the last seven years, but for various (mostly selfish) reasons, I’ve decided against it time and time again.
    When I read your words, “…My own youthful struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, revolved around my perceived failures and sense of hopelessness, but was offset by one single high school teacher…” they went directly to my heart. Glory to God for His ability and willingness to speak through and to His servants.
    Thank you, Abbot Tryphon, for this ministry and for sharing your life with us. Glory to God!

  4. My son was bullied relentlessly in middle school through total social isolation from his peer group for more than a year. Imagine going to work every day for a year and not a soul speaks to you! They were friendships that had lasted for many years that came to an abrupt end. Unfortunately, because it was so subtle and impossible to prove, no parent or teacher was willing or knew how to get involved. I’m grateful to God that my son didn’t commit suicide; he endured it by wearing hooded shirts and pulling up the hood at school and shutting everyone out. It was his way of coping.
    Bullying is not just name calling or physical abuse. It takes on much more subtle and conniving forms today. Please pray that all forms of bullying end and our children can learn to love God and love others.

  5. Like Fr. Tryphon, I’m dyslexic and back then there was not too much known about learning disabilities. I was bullied from. grade school through high school. I vowed never to treat anyone the I was treated. The thing about being by bullied, It’s something that you carry throughout your life.

    This is why it is so important to teach our children how to be kind and loving to each other. We never know what someone is dealing or their circumstances.

  6. I was briefly bullied in junior high, and it has indeed affected my life to this day. My son was also bullied when he was younger, after he transferred to a new school. We were very fortunate that the administration and teachers there were incredibly wonderful and handled the situation really well – ultimately, my son and the boys who bullied him became friends, and are still friends even though they are college graduates now! It didn’t happen right away, of course, but with a combination of my son being helped to find other boys to be friends with, the boys who were bullying him being worked with in a way that didn’t make the situation worse but recognized what was going on in THEIR lives that needed addressing…things got better, and then became great! But, again, it took caring adults – teachers and a particular assistant principal – to make this happen.

    1. Please share what this school did that was so successful!! Many schools parents and students could greatly benefit from such info!!

  7. I hesitated to comment on this. What about when the “bully” is ones own parent ,specifically your own mother? Someone who you thought you could depend on for love ,comfort and understanding? Can cause PTSD , you fail to rise to your abilities, are handicapped for life.

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