Anti-bullying day is just around the corner. You know, the one where all the kids at school where these pink shirts? I have to say (probably controversially) that I’ve never been a fan. My kids have never purchased one of the shirts and have never worn pink on that day. They’re boys. And not that into pink. (not that there’s anything wrong with that)
The heart that started the pink shirt wearing day is awesome. Two boys went out to stand up against some bullies and they accomplished great things. The problem I have with turning these things into ‘days’ is that it takes the need for kids to stand up, as they did, away. There’s no boy at my kids school getting made fun of for wearing pink so this certainly doesn’t have the same effect it originally did.
My boys have had anti-bullying day at their school for as long as I can remember. Every year they come home and proclaim that most of the bullies were wearing pink shirts. Great.
While my boys have never been a product of bullying at it’s worst I’d say most of our kids have experienced it in some form. They’ve all been mocked, sworn at, demeaned in some form. Like, in the normal ‘kids are cruel’ kind of way. I’m not condoning this behaviour at all and I believe that serious bullying is a problem! Kids have taken their own lives because of bullies at school and that is horrific – but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about kids being, well kids.
Sometimes we forget that kids are human too. You know those thoughts that we sometimes have about people who cut us off in traffic, budge into line at the grocery store, beat us in everything we ever try or the ones that we think always look so put together. So perfect. Part of us wants to yell and scream it’s not fair and it’s not right! This may involve cursing or gestures, depending on how well your mama raised you. But most of us simply grumble on the inside and then move along. Because we know, we’ve learned how to treat people and how to filter ourselves in the moment.
Kids haven’t. And while we hope that they will learn, I contend a pink shirt isn’t going to be the thing that changes them.
I was reading this morning in 2 Kings on my slow trudge through the old testament and I nearly laughed out loud as I came upon these verses:
“From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” They said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.” 2 Kings 2:23-25
Get out of here, baldy? Seriously? Did you know this phrase was in the Holy Scriptures? I’ve read through the bible before but had never made note of these verses. I was thinking perhaps these verses should be on the back of the pink shirts and maybe it would make a difference? Just sayin’.
These passages just showed me that from ancient ages past, kids were rotten. There always has been bullies and mockers and those who manipulate. I’m also quite certain there always will be. And I struggle with the fact that having a day in which we talk about bullying is going to change that. It’s like putting a band-aid on the end of a leg that has been chopped off. Not exactly going to fix the problem.
I contend that what our children need is a change of heart. A focus not simply on morality or kindness but a reason. We can tell them all day long to be nice to their siblings, to be kind to those around them, to not hit or bite or push. Sure, we can. It might even change some of their outward actions. There aren’t many kids in middle school who still bite. There are a lot who taunt. Who ask you whether your into guys or girls every. single. day. Who hurl insults as though you were the enemy and we are in the midst of war. Or maybe just on the opposing hockey team. Are you following?
Anti-bullying requires so much more than a t-shirt. It requires so much more than not doing certain actions.
We need to teach our children that each one of us was created. Made in the image of the almighty God by God who places each of us where we are today by his grand design. We need to place value on each human, not just ‘because I said so’, but because they are loved by their Creator, their family, their friends. They are important because they belong to someone bigger than just their mama’s. They require value and dignity and respect because as we do to one of the least of these, we do to the King. (Matt. 25:40) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you must be more than a mantra in their heads it has to affect their heart.
Without a reason, a bigger picture, a grander calling, there will always be bully’s marching around the school in their pink shirts. Without an understanding of who we are, our own depravity, sinfulness, weakness we can’t treat others as more highly than ourselves. It’s when we recognize that
we I am a sinner in need of forgiveness, in need of a saviour, that our heart can begin to see, to change.
I don’t know about you but I’m far less interested in teaching my children outward manners and social morality than I am about training their hearts. I want their actions, their words, their very being to come from a place of heart change. Not because, ‘mom said’, or ‘i’ll get in trouble if’. I want them to stand up for their class mates every day of their life, intervening for those who are being made fun of, standing up for those who aren’t brave enough to stand up for themselves, telling those bullies to just stop! Stop, already.
So we won’t be wearing pink shirts again this year. Not because we don’t agree with not being bullies but because we know it takes more than that shirt and one day a year to not be bullies. It takes reliance on Christ.