Bullying has become the number one social issue in the schools today.  It is so widespread that school boards are launching anti-bullying campaigns to try to stem the tide.  Bullying is back in the news today because 9 teenage girls are involved in a case of bullying at a Boston area High School that resulted in the suicide death of 15 year old Phoebe Prince.  She could not escape the abuse as the bullying was not only in person, but on Facebook and even on Craigslist.  Prince, an Irish immigrant, was bullied mercilessly for months before the torment became so extreme she took her own life.  We have always had bullies, but in our day, you would have one or two in the whole school.  He would be that big dumb guy whose shoe size was larger than his IQ and he would use his size to compensate for his intellectual insecurities. 

Today, that is not the case.  The bullies are big or small, smart or stupid and resort to the same attack stategy as used by a pack of wolves or heinas.  They target the weakest and gang up on them until they destroy them.  There is quite a good movie about it called Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan.  Lohan’s character tries to get back at the school female bullies by infiltrating their inner circle.  In the process she ends up becoming just like them.  Here is a typical line form the movie.  “And evil takes a human form in Regina George. Don’t be fooled because she may seem like your typical selfish, back-stabbing slut faced ho-bag, but in reality, she’s so much more than that.”   We let our teenage girls watch this edging movie to educate them on the subject.  The message was not lost on them.

The bigger question is; why is bullying epidemic today?  Because we live in a mean-spirited culture!  We feast on the nasty and cruel words of Simon Cowell as he berates the hapless victims on American Idol who are willing to endure any level of humiliation to be the next Kelly Clarkson.  Even celebrities are now lining up to be the object of Donald Trump’s condescending put downs.  Every single reality show includes at least one segment where a contestant gets ganged up on by the others and verbally thrashed before they get voted off the island or fat farm or the who-gives-a-rip.  And we mindlessly watch and are amused by this very lowest form of entertainment.  I think they should take all those shows roll them into one and call it, “Dancing with the Big Fat American Losers”.  I know, now I am being mean, but don’t miss my point, it is all contributing to the culture of bullying.

The biggest question of all for me is; where were Phoebe Prince’s defenders?  Out of an entire high school was there no one that was willing to intercede for her?  Was no one willing to stand between her and her tormentors and say, STOP IT?  An entire school stood by and watched this play out for months.  I saw Dr Laura on Larry King Live last night and she said, “I put every one of the parents on notice because you have failed to raise your children to care about others and stand up against injustice.  You have raised a generation of spoiled brats who don’t care about anybody else but themselves”.  You go girl!  I’m with Dr Laura on this one.  A couple of guys or a handful of other girls, that’s all it would have taken to have stopped this. 

Jesus stood between an angry mob and an adulterous woman all by himself, and spared her life without raising so much as his eyes from the ground.  Where are the heroes in this next generation?  Heroes are made, not born!  It is our responsibility as parents to train our children to first see the injustices around them, and secondly do something about it.  Oh…  and by the way, we may have to actually lead by example.

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14 Responses to HEROES ARE MADE, NOT BORN!

  1. Gord says:

    Great timing with this issue, Pastor Mark. Here in Vancouver, about 3 years ago, a local radio host (Christie Clark @ CKNW) started a “pink shirt day” campaign and it has really taken off ….. around the world even. The idea is to wear a pink shirt or any other pink item to show your support to end bullying on Pink Shirt day which is April 14 this year. If anyone is interested, they can check the very informative website: http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/

    There’s a great story behind the pink shirts that will be on the site.

  2. Tim says:

    I just read an article on this story last night: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-04-04-bullying_N.htm
    One thing I found interesting was a part where they looked into the causes of bullying today, here’s the excerpt:

    If it’s not low self-esteem, what causes the new bullying? “That’s the $64,000 question,” she says. “There are a lot of ideas”:

    •Less play time in kindergarten and pre-school. In the past, children spent much of their time in programs playing with, and learning to get along with, other children. Now they spend much more time on academics and tests.

    •More electronic communication. If you can ask someone out and break up with them via text or instant messaging, you don’t have to develop the social skills necessary for face-to-face encounters. This produces socially maladroit kids who are fodder for bullies.

    •TV and movies with the wrong message. A study by one of Englander’s graduate students found that kids’ entertainment programs so full of situations in which teenage meanness is rewarded that the project’s parameters had to be adjusted.

    •Parental ignorance. This takes two forms: obliviousness to what their kids do online — in a survey of Bridgewater State students, half said their parents never supervised their online activity in high school — and a denial about bullying.

    Says Englander: “A lot of parents think that bullying is a problem, but not their kid’s problem.” School bullying programs for parents often are poorly attended.

  3. Steve says:

    I think the whole problem is summed up in 4 words. The human race sucks! Aren’t we all guilty of bullying in some way? I was bullied by a family down the street for years. Two were older, by about 7 yrs, one of them. Anyways I got bigger and they didn’t give me any more problems. But I too was a bully at times. I went to camp and me and my whole cabin bullied this one guy so much, he left early. I think back and wonder what the heck we were doing. I think bullying comes from a sense of power you get. Pain in life we don’t know how to deal with comes out in aggression. I think bullying stems from people having pain and others just ignoring it and telling them to get over it. Where else can your pain go but against someone else? Maybe some people deal with things differently but many people deal with pain by attacking others. I’m just glad Jesus found me and gave me a new way to deal with pain. He takes my burdens and my pains. What an awesome God!!

  4. Renee says:

    I am a new teacher who has had the opportunity to teach abroad. I work for a free school (not private as our students do not pay to get in and we allow everyone to come, we have no system of filtering) called International English school. The idea behind our school is that we are a “tough love” school that gives swedish studnets a chance to learn english from forign speakers. It is amazing to hear how parents talk about the difference between our school and public swedish schools! Our school is brand new and we have attracted studnets from all over the area. Most studnets had bullying problems at there other schools and are willing to take a one hour bus ride each day to come to our school. I think our school is successful in stopping bullying because of a mentor program that they have here in Sweden. As a teacher I’m not a big fan of the program but it is amazing for parents and students. Which makes it worth the extra work. I have contact with parents every two weeks, either by phone or email. I meet my elven students two times a week and can hold special meetings with them just to hear how it is going. It is draining work since I often get to hear about how some one said something on face book or comments made to students in hall ways but this mentoring system helps create better relationships with studnets to stop these problems before they become big. It also helps that this contact with parents let them know what kind of child they are raising. Now that Canadain schools have stoped allowing teachers to comment on behavior its hard to hold studnets responsible for these negative behaviors. Not to mention the few studnets who may have tried to stand up for the poor girl were never given a reason to stand up for her since if they did they would be next. Rather in Sweden we are allowed as mentors to comment on this heroic behavior through our weekly calls and many meetings with parents/students.

  5. Karen says:

    We have had a lot of experience in our home with bullying. I was bullied when I went to school 30 years ago. I never said a word, because I knew that know one could do anything about it. 2/3 of my children have been bullied, I knew what to look for and I acted on it. I have had to change schools twice, because the leadership in schools didn’t want to admit that they had a bullying problem in their schools. On one occasion, it was the teacher that was the bully! I know that this situation is random, and not all teachers are bullies. I have experienced some pretty wonderful educators in our schools, but it’s pretty difficult when your principals or school boards don’t recognize the problem. Parents: YOU are the only advocate that your children will ever have. Shut the TV off when Simon Cowell comes on. We used to watch CBC’s “Dragon’s Den.” But there is one guy on there that is unkind, and a bully. We aren’t such regular watchers anymore. I could type all night on how to fix this, what we could be doing better…but what I learned from my past experience is that God is in control. I learned to rely on Him more and rely on my anger less. Model to your kids that God is first in your house, and what He teaches about treating people is the only way we should be treating people.

  6. Victoria says:

    I believe that it all starts with love.Love yourself,and then you can love others. A cycle of caring then begins, and no child,(we are all Gods children) is left behind.We will notice if someone is feeling down or mad or offended and are able to respond better. Teach our children this from the beginning and we should have no problem-however trying to fix the rest of the world is impossible-so lets teach others how to recognize these behaviors and and manage their emotions and excess baggage. We also need to learn when to walk away from trouble, or agree to disagree.

  7. Kyle Morris says:

    Hello Pastor Mark . I am a kid myself “age 13” and completely agree with this!!! Every day i go to school i deal with this junk … It completely annoys me but i still stay strong . Although i am able to deal with bullies , Threats , and sometimes severe ways of thinking that are really not healthy i am still able to stay strong to myself and i keep my faith no matter how anti christ and harrassing some may be 🙁 . Although I am Somewhat immune to this i find that some arent so much , which leads to my well basic question. As you all know every one is different in their ways of thinking . Some are very complex yet some are very basic. Some show respect in different ways then others do and some dont show it at all . So as i go through my school year i have met some nice friends ya completely nice people that well that is all i can say . As i have gotten to know some of them i have come to realize that they seem to be completely unhealthy in their ways of thinking . I meen this in know way to judge another but being christian i find that people who believe that hell is a good place and like the thoughts of cannibalism , not to mention the fact that they completely flame god in almost every thing they talk about which i am pretty sure is the one thing Christ clearly states in the bible that is unforgiven . Now that i have found out some of these things they have already somewhat attached to me . And i dont meen as friend i acually meen some of the “guy friends” are well “gay” i dont judge ways of thinking but that is not the way i act !!! what i also dont agree with is FLAMING GOD WITH THESE PEOPLE AND PREACHING TO OTHERS ABOUT LIES AND ANTICHRIST MATTERS. So i really want to know what should i do about this situation ,these people obviously need some emotional help but I am not wanting to get to clsoe to them . How do i nicely say i cant stand you and want you to leave me alone . Please help me i would greatly appreciate it .

  8. Tim Hamm says:

    Hey Kyle,
    My name is Tim Hamm, and I’m one of the youth pastors here at Church of the Rock. Pastor Mark asked me to respond here.

    It’s great to see you thinking about this stuff and standing for what you believe. It’s also great to see that you can stay strong despite the “junk” that you face from these people who don’t think like you do. The reality in schools these days is that people think all kinds of crazy things, and as a Christian it’s tough to know what to say in certain situations.

    You asked how you can respond to some of these people in your school, so without knowing all the exact details I would say you have a couple options. First, if these guys are bullying you or making you uncomfortable in any way, it’s important that you report it to your teacher/principal and your parents so something can be done about it. I think it’s ok to tell them you’d rather not hang out with them and leave it at that. Even though you know they need help, for your own safety you need to just leave them be and report anything if they have harmed you in any way. The one thing you can do is pray for them to be change, but other than that just leave them be.

    On the other hand (it’s hard to tell from your post), but if it’s just a matter of them not agreeing with what you believe and you want to share what you believe with them because you are friends with them, it’s important to do it with an attitude of love. Like you said, you don’t want to judge them, but you also hope that they can find out about a God who loves them. If they are open to talk about this, it’s great, but if they’re not open to talking and are just interested in ridiculing you, you don’t have to feel burdened to help them at all. It’s not your job to change them, you can leave that to God and you don’t have to feel guilty if they don’t change. Again just pray for them and you’ve done your part.

    I hope that helps, and you want to talk more about this sometime you can always contact me at the church and I’d be happy to chat with you!


  9. Evelyn Bennett says:

    As a person who has been bullied in her childhood I do believe that the amount of bullies have multiplied because of the lack of love at home.

    I do agree that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    If the child is a bully the parent is a bully – plain and simple.

  10. Donna says:

    This message is for Renee who states she is a teacher. Does anyone ever double check their spelling anymore????

  11. Flynne Morris says:

    Hello Pastor Tim
    I’m responding to your thoughtful commentary above, in your reply to my son Kyle! Thanks for taking the time to do that, and thanks to Pastor Mark for placing this matter in your capable hands… Good advice given, and well received here. I will continue to be prayerfully involved and attentive at home with my children, and will continue to pray for the youth and families that we come in contact with as well. Kyle really enjoyed his first time with you and the other youth in the “The Cage” this evening! I was blessed by his smiles and enthusiasm when I picked him up afterwards! Thank you for all you do! You guys ROCK! 🙂 lol
    Keep Pressin’ On!

  12. Merle says:

    Hi Pastor Mark! Thank you so much for bringing up this topic, it is one that is dear to my heart. In fact it breaks my heart to read about Phoebe Prince. Growing up and especially as a teenager I was picked on beat up etc. I was so close to making the same decision as Phoebe so many times. By the grace of God, I was reminded that I am loved by Him and my parents. I don’t have children, but I have worked with them throughout my life. I have seen so many children that have been plopped in front of the television or computer right from infancy because Mom and Dad are too busy. They come home from work and are tired or have supper to make and bills to pay, I get it! I plead with parents to tell their children that they are loved and are special everyday (even if you think they know it!). I know that for me being told “great job” or “We love you, we want to listen and understand!” and other sincere affirming phrases, made so much of a difference especially from my Dad. I pray that young people would know that they have been created for a purpose that no one in the history of this planet can accomplish except them. That is how uniquely they have been created. I believe that if we all believed that we are special in God’s sight, that so many of our generation wouldn’t feel so undervalued. The one phrase I have heard so many times from young people, is that they feel “No one cares.” Between their parents fighting or time taken away by their jobs, to always trying to be their buddies by buying them stuff. I find so many kids have all the “toys” but never enough time just sitting and talking about how they are feeling and what their going through daily. School is not easy these days I know there are so many pressures (I have a younger brother that tells me.) I also see that it can be so lonely even with friends, if there aren’t deep roots. Liking the same music or hanging out because you’re on the same sports teams doesn’t make a strong friendship. People I know life is busy and stressful, but when kids kill themselves because they feel there’s no hope. I find that if we could take 10-15 minutes a day just taking with them letting them know someone is there that says to them “you matter, you’re important and loved.” Maybe Phoebe and many others like her would still be here to make this world a better place. I pray right now that God would send people into the lives of children, in their homes and in their schools that would stand with ALL these children both bullies and the bullied and tell them that they ARE loved!! I know this is something that I have to remember to do with the children in my life. God Bless!!

  13. Sandra says:

    As a victum of bullying myself in grade school over 15yrs ago….it hurt even then. I now have a 12yr old daughter who is experiencing what it is like to be bullied from time to time. It does not seem to matter if you are the popular girl (she is) or not, one day someone decides you are the target and hence, you will be. It is true what you say Pastor Mark….no one dares to stand up for her for fear they will become the next target. No one stands up b/c no one wants to be the target. My daughter has had it so bad at times, she had to go to the hospital b/c she wanted to kill herself. I made sure with the last event, she was able to get some help set up thro a counsillor and hopefully be helped by this person. She does have alot of added stress in her life that does not help the situation. She lives with her agnostic dad and I am not able to step in and get any christian help for her and that is hard but I pray for her daily and ask God to be her defender. If anyone reads this and will pray for ‘T’…..I would be so thankful as a parent. I think it is rather timely Pastor Mark has written on ‘Bullying’ b/c that is just what she is going thro right now.


  14. cj says:

    a pastor that knows the latest about all the tv shows and movies and celebrities….. thats unbelieveable to me.
    your not a pastor, your a phony.

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