Bully-Proof Your Ministry



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Spotting the Symptoms

One of the first steps to stopping bullying behaviors is to
recognize the symptoms.

“Recognize that bullying often takes place under adult radar,”
says Coloroso. We typically look for the overt signs of bullying,
such as fighting, verbal threats, and crying. Often, though, the
signs are so subtle that they’re overlooked or misinterpreted by
adults. “[Bullying] can be a dirty look, rolled eyes, a nudge, a
pinch, a turned shoulder — all while the teacher’s back is
turned,” Coloroso says.

If you suspect bullying is taking place among the children you
minister to, you’re probably correct. And if you feel bullying
isn’t a threat in your classroom or ministry, you’re probably
wrong. Coloroso and Ken Druck, author of How to Talk to Your
Kids About School Violence
, offer these suggestions.

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Know the three kinds of bullying-verbal, physical, and
While physical bullying is the most common
form adults look for, it’s the least common in occurrence. More
common is verbal bullying — jeers, taunts, put-downs, and insults
– that can be devastating to kids’ self-esteem. Unfortunately,
it’s relatively easy for bullies to get away with this type of
behavior because they consciously do it out of adult earshot.
Relational bullying is the girl bully’s weapon of choice, and one
that’s far more powerful than physical or verbal bullying. When a
target experiences this, he or she is shunned and ostracized from
the group.

Look for the signs of relational bullying.
Druck says there are five common signs that relational or social
bullying is happening. Look for:

1. The spreading of rumors and gossip.

2. The deliberate exclusion or isolation of a child.

3. Verbal taunting or harassment. Often adults misinterpret this
as harmless teasing. Teasing is defined as harmless and for fun.
Taunting or harassment is when there’s a repetitive, deliberate
attempt at cruelty and when it’s apparent that the target is

4. Hostile body language or ex­pres­sions. These expressions, such
as rolled eyes, aggressive staring, and derogatory gestures usually
occur when the adult’s attention is diverted.

5. Abusive emails, phone calls, or other technology-related
communication. Druck identifies this as “cyber-bullying.” For more
information and ways to prevent cyber-bullying, go to


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