Remember that scene in A Christmas Story where the evil bully Scott Fargus emerges from behind a rickety fence, filling the air with his sinister laugh? He pins another boy’s arms behind his back until the poor victim cries “uncle” and runs home in shame.
Today’s bullies aren’t quite so easy to spot. They come in a variety of forms—called “mean girls,” gossips, clique leaders and cyberbullies. These kids may not threaten physical harm, but insults and social intimidation can hurt just as much. How can we help our girls stand up to bullying?
How else? With scripture. When faced with a bullying situation, let’s teach our children to focus on three key truths—straight from God’s Word.
1. Bullies don’t define you. Only God has the right to do that. And all those hurtful comments a bully throws your way? God says they’re lies. He loves you. He created you. You are his masterpiece. So always remember who God says you are—and don’t let anybody convince you otherwise.
“But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are God’s special treasure. You are all these things so that you can give him praise. God brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 1:9, NIRV)
2. Retaliation is the wrong answer. You might feel tempted to fight back, but exchanging a hurt for a hurt only propels the problem. Resist the urge to stoop to the bully’s level. That means do your best to avoid getting sucked into school drama or online bickering. Instead, try being kind to the bully. Trust God to help you do it.
“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: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19–21, NIV).
3. Pray for bullies. What? Pray for someone who hurts you? Yes, that’s what God asks us to do. Consider that a bully may be acting hurtful because she is also hurting. In which case, what she needs more than an enemy is a friend who will show her the love of Christ.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44, NIV).
Finally, parents—make sure your kids know that if they’re being harassed by a bully, they should tell you or another trusted adult about what’s happening. Grown-ups can help defend and protect as well as give advice on how to handle the bully’s unkindness. And whenever possible, equip your child to handle the situation on her own, rather than stepping in and solving every detail. Knowing how to stand up to bullying will build your child’s confidence in herself and, more importantly, in God.