Federal or local anti-bullying policies or programs are not the path to reducing the amount of verbal bullying in U.S. schools. Rather, the solution will come from children being taught about God’s forgiveness, says lawyer and author Wendy Cooper Starr.
“Schools are only attempting the PC sort of things and the programs tried are only skipping off the surface of what is really going on,” said Starr, who recently released her book Your Words: Learning the Language of the Kingdom. As a lawyer, she serves as a guardian ad litem for children and as a guardian for adults who need special help.
Anti-bullying programs are increasingly being looked at as a possible answer to the problem that ranges from abuse over the Internet to physical violence in schoolyards. In March, President Obama and the First Lady hosted the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. Last August, the U.S. Department of Education held the first-ever federally sponsored conference on the subject of bullying.
A U.S. Department of Education report released last month states that more than 31 percent of all students ages 12-18 said they were bullied at school. Some studies claim that as many as 75 percent of all schoolchildren have faced bullying.
Starr often talks to educators and parents on the subject, but she said that real understanding on the issue comes from those who have accepted Christ.
“Christian parents play a critical role in helping teach the way children should respond to bullying,” Starr told The Christian Post. “Children need to learn bullies are being controlled by Satan. They need to learn forgiveness. They need to learn how to do good things for bullies.”
“Adults need to help them think through those things. It’s pretty advanced Christianity, but children have a special place in the heart of Jesus. He will help them if adults teach them the basics,” she said.
Unfortunately, she lamented, “many children have not been able to observe forgiveness in action because many Christians simply refuse to forgive.”
“Children are told to forgive but they don’t know how so they need practical examples. I believe it all starts with what children learn to think about bullying or any hurtful situation such as divorce, death, disappointment.”
Starr wrote Your Words after leading a small group Bible study focused on the power of words in the realm of spiritual battles. She said that during her morning devotion time many years ago she read the verses Matthew 12:35-37 and realized she had to look at her own use of words.
She paraphrased the verses: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Programs that teach positive affirmations to overcome the negative words hurled at the students fall short, she said.
“Using my words according to Kingdom principles involves finding out what God has to say about my situation and then speaking God’s Word into my situation. Also, when I know God’s will about my situation, I can pray in faith believing and know that I will receive the desires of my heart because I know they are also the desires of God’s heart. That is a lot different than statements I make up and say over and over to, hopefully, get what I want.”
Starr said she would advise children to talk with their parents and with someone at school about any issues regarding bullying.
“I’d also tell [the child] that God loves them, that God has a really good plan for their life and that Satan wants to take it away from them by lying to him or her,” she said. “Children need to understand that when they are being bullied that it’s not their peer, it’s Satan. Then, they can forgive the bully and the words do not have that same hurtful sting.”