Home Lifestyle North Carolina family finds solution to bullying from surprising source

North Carolina family finds solution to bullying from surprising source

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When their 5-year-old son refused to get on the school bus, Eduardo and Stephanie of Mount Airy, North Carolina, were stumped. They later learned that a boy much bigger than him had been calling him names due to his race and size. Their son was being bullied.

“We had to help him cope with the situation,” said Eduardo. “In the meantime, we decided it was best to drive him to school ourselves.”

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.

Eduardo and Stephanie talked with their two school-aged children about helpful scriptural principles they learned through their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We have regular conversations as a family,” Eduardo said. “We analyze Bible lessons that teach them to respect their peers and teachers, and how to be brave when necessary.”

They also went to jw.org, the Witnesses’ official website, where a search for the term bullying brought 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.

Eduardo and Stephanie’s son decided to try and win over bullies with kindness.

Madison Bechtle 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.

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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’d want to be treated, showing love and being slow to anger are tools Eduardo said help his family in many circumstances. “My children can go to school without fear, knowing that they can face situations that schoolchildren face on a daily basis and, when needed, take the appropriate measures so that they do not suffer the effects of bullying.”

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