Bullying is often talked about in our society because it has become a societal problem. Bullying has no financial, cultural or social bounds. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Misery is caused for the victims and those who witness the incidents. Bullying may not look the same everywhere, but it has the same devastating effects on everyone.
What constitutes bullying? From the article, Take Action Against Bullying, certain conditions apply for a bullying incident to occur.
“Lots of kids joke around with each other, call each other names, or engage in some fairly physical horse-play and yet these incidents are not deemed as bullying when they occur between certain children. The difference lies in the relationship of the bully and victim, and the intent of the interaction.”
“Bullying usually, although not always, occurs between individuals who are not friends. In a bullying situation, there is a power difference between the bully and the victim. For instance, the bully may be bigger, tougher, physically stronger or be able to intimidate others or have the power to exclude others from their social group. The intention of bullying is to put the victim in distress in some way. Bullies seek power.”
“There is a difference between bad play and bullying. Bullying has three intentions: There is a power difference between the individual being bullied and the bullier; there is a negative intent on the part of the bullier to hurt, embarrass or humiliate the other; and the behaviour is repeated, perhaps with others, perhaps with the same person, perhaps with the same person over time.”
Several years ago, our school sought to establish an anti-bullying policy, similar to most other schools and organizations at that time, in response to this societal concern. During our research about bullying, a clearer understanding of bullying was learned. Teachers, parents and students were educated on identifying bullying incidents, methods to stop bullying behaviour and equipping students to stand up to bullies. Much emphasis targeted creating a school where bullying had no place.
A Christian school principal recently explained that bullying was not part of their school and that it was not a word they used since it was foreign to their school culture. Wow, how right the principal was. Within the Christian school, the school culture and climate are not about “how do we handle bullying”; rather it focuses on establishing an environment free of bullying.
MCS has established an environment free of bullying through a variety of ways. We understand each person is a wonderful creation of God deserving respect. Opportunities for cross grade interactions occur regularly. Cooperative learning experiences building bridges between interests, experiences, abilities and backgrounds are an important component. Empowering students to resolve conflicts following the biblical principle outlined in Mathew 18. Reinforce positive playground behaviour and social relations. Monitor and record incidents to identify potential relational challenges. Equip students to understand the difference between “ratting”, telling about another student to get the student in trouble, and “reporting”, telling to protect the safety of another. Assist in repairing and rebuilding trust and relationships between students.
Here at Muskoka Christian School, bullying has no place and it is not a word we should use. Yes, bullying occurs out in the world, I do not deny that. But we have students who are filled with the Holy Spirit’s power to display the Fruit of the Spirit. While our students are not perfect, they are developing all the fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Our devotion to God and learning to be Christ-like guide us in our actions, which never leaves room for bullying.
Written by our Principal, Lauralynn Mercer