FALLBROOK – "When I was in fourth grade, I had a really bad experience," said Robert. "An older kid wanted to beat me up. My friends tried to help me, but this kid was bigger."
As millions of children head back to school this year, more than one in five of them will have a similar experience, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And in a national study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 21% of tweens said they had been a target, aggressor or witness to bullying online or by other electronic means.
As parents search for ways to protect their children, a growing group of families are turning to an unlikely source for practical guidance: the Bible.
Understanding that victims of bullying tend to keep such difficult experiences to themselves, Robert and Keren make time to regularly communicate with their children.
The family has also found https://www.jw.org/en/, the Witnesses' official website useful, where a search for the term bullying brings up a wealth of free resources including videos, articles, worksheets and other online activities on topics young people face at school. Those resources include a whiteboard animation entitled, "Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists" and an animated cartoon about the powerful effect of prayer for those who are being bullied.
"Our children love watching the videos," said Keren. Robert values that the information on https://www.jw.org/en/ helps kids see that they are not alone." We especially enjoyed the article: Answers to 10 Questions Young People Ask, What if I am being bullied at school? It was very helpful," he said.
Madison of Clifton, New Jersey, also turned to the Scriptures when a cyberbully started harassing her in the eighth grade with dozens of disturbing notifications on her cell phone. "It was really crazy. He was sending me pictures of my house. I was really paranoid all the time," she said.
Reading the Bible and praying calmed her anxiety. "It's just you and God, and you're just talking one-on-one," she said. "It's very comforting, and it works."
She also followed the practical steps outlined in the jw.org whiteboard animation "Be Social-Network Smart" to protect herself. She told her parents and teachers about the situation and deleted the social media account her bully had targeted. "I still don't have that account to this day," said Madison, now 21.
"Not every situation resolves so easily. But applying the Bible's advice and focusing on the big picture can help individuals cope and maintain their sense of self-worth," said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah's Witnesses.
"The Bible has proven to be a practical resource for many families to navigate difficult situations in life," said Hendriks. "The principles found in this ancient book can help adults and children resolve conflict and maintain peaceful relationships with others."
Principles like the so-called Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated, showing love and being slow to anger are tools parents say help their family in many circumstances.
Submitted by Jehovah's Witnesses.