It is heartbreaking to hear about all of the recent reports of cyber-bullying, like the recent Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi.
Cyber-bullying is a new but very serious problem. Cyber-bullying, “involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.” This is still very raw for all of us as we hear about more suicides and other dangers placed on teenagers and young adults. I seem to have more questions than answers, but as I’ve been reflecting on all that is happening, I’m struggling with how we as the church are addressing these issues with the young people we meet. Over the last few days, many celebrities including Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen, and Dr. Phil have posted videos reminding people they are not alone. We can do something to address this issue. We all want to be liked. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be loved. Young people today face pressures more extreme than when I was their age (which wasn’t that many years ago). We must remind young people that they are loved and excepted as who they are. They are welcome into our communities of faith where they can feel acceptance, grace, and love. We also need to remind each other of the power of our words. We no longer see young people talking outside during recces or on the school bus, but rather racing home to share their gossip via text messaging on cell phones, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter. Our words, whether spoken or communication via technology are so powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Once we say something, we cannot take it back. Each of us has the power to control our words and our actions. We as leaders and parents can be positive examples for the young people we meet.
I think the most important thing we can do is talk to each other about what is going on. Don’t ignore it, thinking it isn’t happening in your home, neighborhood, city. Provide resources for families in your congregations. The Prevention Services at the The Center for Prevention of Abuse has published Tips for Families on How to Deal with
- Educate yourself.
- Set age appropriate boundaries for your children.
- Work to maintain open and honest relationships with your children.
Anderson Cooper is doing segments on bullying on AC 360 this week. He is running a special on Friday night on CNN. Check your local listings for the time.
I would love to hear about what resources you have found and what you are doing to talk about this serious problem.