School Bullying 1: The Tragic Costs

School bullying comes in various forms and none are a joy to experience. Some bullies are violent and unstable, some are insecure and mean, and others were victims of bullying and so they are lashing out at someone else. There are kids who bully others so they can be accepted as peers of the bullies and not become victims themselves. There are many reasons why kids might bully other kids but there is no right reason for it to take place.

Bullying is wrong

Bullying is wrong because they are not following the example of Jesus who wanted us to love others, even our enemies. Paul told us to esteem others better than ourselves in Philippians 2:3:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

We are to serve others and be a light to show the example of Christ. A bully introduces darkness into someone’s world, not light. Sadly, there are kids who have killed themselves because they were tired of being the victim of bullies. How sad to think that you could contribute to someone feeling so bad about themselves that they would take their own life!

Don’t Be A Bully

If you are picking on kids because they are younger, smaller, or different from you, please stop. Stop now. You are not making yourself look bigger or better, although you may get some laughs when you pick on someone. You know that you don’t feel better deep down inside when you do it. You need to know that you are losing the respect of others although they may not tell you to your face. Remember also that bullies often become the victim of bigger bullies who want to prove that they are the boss, not you.

Don’t Be Bullied

If you are the victim of a bully, speak up. When I was in school teachers and the principal might take reports a bully seriously or might not. The world is different today and school officials usually take reports of bullying very seriously. Tell your parents and teachers what is occurring and how it affects you. The administrators will talk with the parents and the student about the behavior and that they want it stopped. If the bully gives you a hard time for telling on him, report it again. The bully will eventually learn to be quiet.

When Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, He was not saying that it is fine for everyone in the world to abuse you. We do not need to be vengeful when others wrong us but we can ask our parents and teachers to stop the bullying. If the adults you are talking to aren’t helping, find other adults to help until the bullying stops.

Protect Others

If you see someone being bullied, do not join in the taunting or picking. Don’t walk by and ignore it either. Stop it either by getting an adult to intervene or, if you feel comfortable that taking up for the victim you will not start a fight or endanger yourself, tell the bully to stop and leave the victim alone. If he does not, immediately get an adult to step in, don’t try to do good by starting a fight. In most cases, someone standing up for the victim is enough to make the bully feel uncomfortable and leave, especially if others tell him to quit after you speak up. I’ve had to deal with bullies in my life and appreciated when others stood up for me.

The Tragic Costs

As I noted above, there are some kids who will commit suicide to get relief from bullying. If you are a victim, get help from adults to stop the bully and if they do not listen, find other adults who will help you. The situation is never so bad that you should want to kill yourself. Most of the kids you are in school with you will never see again when you are out of school and they will have no influence in your life. It is wrong for people to pick on you and you have every right to demand that it cease. The unhappiness and trouble caused by bullying is an unnecessary pain that some people have to endure. I know firsthand from experiences I’ve had with bullies when I was in school. But you can be stronger for overcoming this unfortunate circumstance.

In the next few articles we will discuss cyber-bullying and the two types of bullies: the violent bully and the jerk.

Why Is School Boring?

The whine drifts from the bedrooms of kids around the globe: “Why is school so boring?” You have to spend the day listening to teachers present the same material they present every year to another group of students. Some subjects are fine but other subjects leave you asking yourself, “When will I ever need to know this?” Some material you have a hard time understanding and some subjects are so easy that they do not challenge you. And if that didn’t seem bad enough, some teachers give you homework so you can’t escape when you leave school! If you can’t see why you need to be at school or how you will use the knowledge, you will find it boring.

However, the biggest reason school is boring is your attitude! Anything in life will be boring to the person who makes it boring. An important lesson I learned early in my life is that I cannot control what happens but I can control my reaction to it and my attitude about it. I cannot control the fact that I may have to wait in a lobby for a doctor’s appointment or that something has been delayed causing me to wait, I can prepare so that I can make that downtime useful by bringing a good book to read or have a conversation with someone else waiting. If you have an attitude to make the best out of any situation, you can find interest, and maybe excitement, in almost any place and in any circumstance.

Likewise, since you have to go to school and study, approach it with an attitude of curiosity and interest in your world. Classes like history give you examples of behavior to repeat or avoid and sometimes inspirational stories to motivate you to accomplish great things. English is critical in our society since the ability to communicate with others effectively will help you succeed in business and in all of your relationships. You will find that math skills are important for so many areas of your personal and professional life. Even physical education and health can provide valuable knowledge to help you stay fit for life. There are things that I wished I learned more effectively in school that would be useful today. In fact, I’ve had to go back on my own and learn some skills that I did not apply myself to learn in school. It is easier to do when you are young.

Try approaching school with an attitude of curiosity and adventure and you will be amazed at how school suddenly will not be so boring. Approach other activities in your life that seem boring with an attitude of interest and you will notice how exciting life can be.

5 Important Lessons To Learn From School

You will have to spend a lot of time in school preparing for your adult life. You have to study English, math, history, science, physical education, and other subjects that adults believe you need to know before they unleash you onto the world. However, some of the important lessons you will learn in school are not listed on the class syllabus (or outline) but are important lessons to learn while in school.

  1. Responsibility: You will be better prepared for life when you learn to be responsible for making sure your work is done correctly and on time without having to be reminded by the adults in your life. You should be able to keep a calendar and assignment list so you know what is due when and plan your schedule to complete your tasks on time. This is important because in the work world you must work with little supervision but your manager will expect you to do what is required or will find someone else to do the work.
  2. Accountability: You also learn how to respect teachers, administrators, and others in authority (especially your parents if you are home-schooled). At school you learn to abide by rules that are established to maintain a positive orderly atmosphere and to protect students and adults. If you do not abide by the rules you learn that there are consequences for disobedience. I often tell my kids that the rules don’t stop when you live on your own, you just answer to a different group of people. An important skill in life is learning to live by rules responsibly and respectfully.
  3. Friendship: The first day of school, or the first day at a new school, can be so stressful because you don’t know anyone. What a relief when you strike up a conversation with someone in your class or at the lunch table and develop a friendship. You don’t feel so alone after that. Your friendships will likely change as you go through school just as they change when you go through life. Your best friend in middle school may only be a distant friend your senior year of high school. I remember growing apart from friends who were getting involved with drunkenness and other behaviors displeasing to God but I developed good friendships with others who were not doing these things. Make sure your strongest friendships are with those who help you do right, not people who would lead you into bad behaviors.
  4. Uniqueness: In school you realize that you are just one of many kids in many schools across the globe. However, you ought to realize that although you share many interests and dressing styles with others, you are unique in the world. You need to be proud of your uniqueness and do not worry if you do not seem to fit in with others. There are people that you will feel comfortable with and they will love you as you are. Do not change to please others because you will not be happy with the mask and will eventually tire of not expressing yourself. Be happy with who you are and defend it if you must. Do not let others bully you but defend who you are (see  this article for more about this important subject).
  5. Christianity: At school you have occasions to stand for your faith when it is challenged and to share your faith with those who need it. Many school kids were not raised with any connection to Jesus and you can provide the light to guide them to Him. You are able to shine as a good example in your words and actions. You have opportunities to tell of the good work God has done in your life. There are many confused, depressed, and spiritually starving students who would love to have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus but their parents and friends do not serve him. You have the chance to be that light. You can provide the greatest education that your fellow students could receive and which will impact their life for the better.

There are many lessons you will learn in school but not all of them will be in the textbooks!

Developing Focus and Flow in School Studies

Several months ago, my dear niece Kaylin was feeling overwhelmed with a lot of school assignments, tests, essays, papers, and book reports. I sent her the following which she said greatly helped her and others that she shared it with. If school work (or tasks at work) frustrate you, I hope the following tips will give you help. These principles are useful at work, managing a home, and even Bible study.
(Hat tip to David Allen and Getting Things Done book for teaching me many of these lessons.)

Organize your commitments. Make a list of all of your commitments–papers to write, test dates, and other assignments and sort the list  by due dates (earliest due at the top of the list).

Define tasks for “projects.” For term papers or assignments that require multiple steps to complete (going to library to get research materials, making outline, turning in first draft…), list the specific actions that you will need to finish the project. For example:

  • Get 3 library books on History of Spain
  • Read research materials
  • Make reference cards
  • Write first draft, etc.

Assign due dates to each action allowing plenty of time to do each task and complete the last task before the project due date.

Prioritize. Review the list of all steps (individual tasks and project steps) and list them by due date starting with the earliest due.. This will help you understand what you must finish first, second, third, etc. This will also assure you that you are doing things in the right order so you won’t stress while doing one assignment worrying that you should be doing something else.

Fighting Distractions

Background Noise. Turn on instrumental music (ambient music, classical, DJ/Dance…) to listen to while you work. Music with lyrics will be distracting as your mind tries to process the words while doing critical thinking. Your brain doesn’t have to listen to or interpret non-vocal music. Vocal music is fine when doing non-analytical processing (crafts, building projects) but there is a cognitive cost of listening to lyrics while trying to process words in a textbook or writing.  You could also use a sound machine that generates peaceful sounds like ocean waves, crickets, or running water.

Restrict Interruptions. This means no texting or phone calls. Put your phone on silent and in a drawer to remove the temptation.  Also, unless you are doing Internet research do not have your browser open. If you are doing research, make sure social media networks are off (not in a hidden tab…OFF) and chat is unavailable. This will help you get in “the zone.” Interruptions throw off your “flow” and work takes longer to complete. Also, having these available makes it easy to “just check that message, updates…” when you run into something that is not much fun or difficult–this is evil. Put a “do not disturb” message on your door.

 Focused Work. Set a timer for a specific period (~30-50 minutes) and do NOTHING but task #1. Try to complete the task within the time (but don’t stress if you don’t–make it a game to see how much you can do in the allotted time). Do not stop the work–no message checking, cleaning your room, NOTHING!!–until the timer goes off. If the only timer you have is on your phone, go to and set the time you want to study. A kitchen timer would be best since you don’t have to leave the Internet up or have your phone (with text alerts) visible.

 Break/Reward. When the timer goes off, set the timer again for 5-10 minutes (less if you have a lot of work to do. While standing and stretching text, check social media, or whatever. As soon as the timer goes off (IMMEDIATELY), shut the devices off and close social media. Do not “check one more message…”

Resume. Reset the timer and either finish the assignment you started or begin action #2. Continue this until you complete all the actions that you need to complete today. Some tasks will have to take place tomorrow but your priority list will give you the confidence that you know what must be done today and what can wait for another day. This also gives you peace when you finish today’s task list you can enjoy time with friends or doing something you enjoy knowing that you have planned time to complete your remaining assignments on time.

Other tips and observations:

  • Don’t work to perfection–especially at first. For example, if you have a writing assignment, just get the ideas on paper as they flow and go back and correct grammar, and reword things later. This is important for two reasons. First, if something bad happens that leaves you with little time you still have something to turn in instead of no assignment. Two, it relieves the stress when you have a lot of assignments, knowing you have something to turn in and can return to the assignment later, if you have time, to improve the work quality.
  • “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Don’t spend so much time on formatting, appearance, etc. that you have little time to do other assignments. Do the best you can and when (if) you have time, go back and make it prettier, more profound, etc.
  • Be careful with sugary foods and energy drinks as they can give you a quick high but you will feel more tired (and hungry) when you quickly crash. Drink lots of water and snack on nuts, fruits, and other foods that will give you sustained energy.
  • Pray to God for strength and thank Him for the opportunity to be in school and ask for His help since you want to use your education to His glory.
  • For lengthy reading assignments, learn to scan well and note important parts. Most of books are fillers with nuggets of info. Some speed reading techniques will help you harvest the important information without being caught up in unnecessary info.
  • For test prep: Try to make as many mental images to help you remember lists and associate terms and ideas. The more outrageous the image the better. Have a buddy quiz you and quiz them. Learn memory techniques.

Now available! A PDF copy with the basic guidelines to post by your study area to remind you of the study principles. Download here.Developing Focus and Flow in School Studies

What Do You Do For Fun?

Author Unknown

Several years ago a Christian girl told me about an incident with a young man who had been trying to date her. He was not a member of the church, and they just did not have anything in common. She had turned him down twice and now she had said “no” to attending a rock concert with him. In a kind of mock exasperation, the young man asked, “What do you do for fun?  You don’t dance, you don’t drink, you don’t attend rock concerts. What do you do for fun?”

She replied, “For fun, I get up in the morning without feeling embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about what I did the night before.” The young man had nothing more to say. She was right; it is not fun to feel guilty for your actions the night before. There are many things in life that are fun. For example, the Christian girl is now married to a fine Christian man. They have a little girl and are building an outstanding Christian home together. Think of the fun she is having.

She is having fun every day living without the scars of fornication, drugs, alcohol, or regrets from her past. She is having fun getting ready each afternoon to receive a husband home from work; knowing that he will not be stopping off at the local bar for a few drinks with his friends. She is having fun knowing that her little girl will never see her father in a drunken stupor or experimenting with drugs. She is having fun knowing that while he is away from her, his Christian conduct will not allow infidelity or even flirting. She is having fun watching him hold his little girl on his lap with loving, protective arms. She is having fun living with the assurance that the home will be led by a spiritual leader who will guide each family member towards heaven.

The list of fun things for the Christian is endless.

What do you do for fun?

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