Bullying: What We Can Do to Stop It

Bullying happens at school.  It happens at church.  It happens in all kinds of communities, in fact in every community. 

Bullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time.  Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional. 

There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly.  As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying.

General Synod 27, July 2009, passes resolution to support LGBT students in public schools and their advocates.  "Affirming Diversity/Multicultural Education in the Public Schools" seeks to create a progressive Christian witness in support of organizations that provide diversity education at school to build tolerance for all people, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families, along with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, social classes and faiths. The resolution was sponsored by the Northern California, Nevada Conference, where UCC pastors who provide diversity education and public school districts that include information around gender identity and sexual orientation in their curricula have been harassed by organized protests and lawsuits.

Staff across several ministries of the United Church of Christ have gathered together resources on this page from a number of points of view.  Just as the reduction of bullying must be a collaborative endeavor, this page is our effort to bring the perspectives of several portfolios on the UCC national staff.

Resources from the UCC

Background and Definitions:

Reflections

Information from other Organizations

Books of Interest

  • Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies by Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman.
  • Coming Out Young and Faithful, from UCC LGBTQ advocates Leanne McCall Tigert and Timothy Brown, and published by the Pilgrim Press, is filled with stories and information, including ministry and advocacy resources.  It will help individuals and faithful communities open doors of affirmation, love, and commitment to the needs of LGBT youths and young adults.
  • After 25 years living in Los Angeles, J. Kelly Poorman returned to the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. He helped his UCC congregation to become Open and Affirming and he has written a book and a play for adolescents.  Check out his J. Kelly Poorman's website for more information about his books.

Videos

  • Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History from Teaching Tolerance of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This film is the true story of a student bullied through middle and high school in Ashland, Wisconsin, a student who later sued successfully for federal protection of his right to be protected at school.  The film's portrayal of bullying demonstrates what bullying is and what can be done about it.  It is disturbing without being sensationalized.  Very accurate portrayal of the target's suffering and the anguish of his family.  The case is successful: a hopeful story of empowerment.  Highly recommended for middle and high school use.
  • It's Elementary  is a wonderful film from Groundspark, formerly Women's Educational Media, that shows what happens when schools and teachers introduce the subject of homophobia in an age-appropriate way into elementary and middle schools.  In every location and for every child from first through eighth grade, students know about this subject and have misinformation they have gleaned from peers and the media.  The children experience a sense of relief to be allowed to discuss the fearful messages they have absorbed and to give up their fear as they separate myths and stereotypes from facts.
  • That's A Family!  also from Groundspark, lets children take viewers on a tour through their lives as they speak candidly about what it's like to grow up in a family with parents of different races or religions, divorced parents, a single parent, gay or lesbian parents, adoptive parents or grandparents as guardians.
  • Oliver Button is a Star  (now available for $5.00 from the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus) is the artistically stunning 56 minute video based on children's author-illustrator, Tomie dePaola's book, Oliver Button Is a Sissy.  As dePaola himself reads the story to a group of children, it is musically dramatized by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus—spliced with childhood home-movie footage and current interviews with dePaola himself, arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, and make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin. dePaola's own illustrations are animated and spliced into the film as well. This video celebrates the extraordinary gifts of four children who were teased, bullied, and harassed because their interests and behavior didn't conform to gender-defined expectations.  We also learn about their parents and other adults who were their allies. 

Worship Resources

Prayer from the Hibbert Trust, in the UK, including the following words: "Bullies' words sting and slice through me. Bulllies' words twist into shapes that beat me and leave me like a trampled leaf... Help us to disentangle the knots of confusion and misunderstanding. To understand the hurts that others feel - that we have ignored. Help us to speak of what we feel. Help us to know when others need to speak so that then we can l listen." 
A LItany for Safety in Our Schools, by Rev. Bill Johnson

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