Australian author William Reiner wrote and published ‘A Ferret Named Phil.’ The delightful story features Phil, the Ferret who deals with bullying without resorting to violence.
“Bullying is something that affects everybody at some stage of their life, regardless, if you’re big or small. From cyber-bullying to schoolyard bullying and all the way to workplace bullying,” Reimer , a 21 year old, wrote last year.
‘A Ferret Named Phil’ is fast becoming a national favourite with parents, school teachers and children (of all ages) You can see the public reaction on the Facebook page and at libertyroad.com.au.
The Hairy Monster?
The book had instant appeal because bullying is so prevalent. Madonna was called ‘the hairy monster” at school. Taylor Swift said attacks on her by bullies inspired her early songs. Miley Cyrus was a victim. Tyra Banks was called ‘Lightbulb Head.’ In a TV interview Justin Timberlake recalled, “I grew up in Tennessee, and if you didn’t play football you were a sissy.’
I relate. As a child I suffered a fractured skull and my parents, on doctors orders, banned me from contact sports. So my peers played rugby. I did track. A group of the boys ganged up and nicknamed me ‘horsemeat’ which meant ‘good for nothing.’ Later I was blown away when I learned Jesus declared, ‘call no man Raca’ meaning ‘good for nothing.’! (Matthew chapter 5: verses 22) Obviously He taught ‘love your neighbour.’ Bullying certainly fails there. Bullying indeed is a curse not a blessing.
Steven Spielberg was called ‘a nerd’ at school. Sandra Bullock was heckled for her clothes. Classmates bullied Kate Winslet for her weight, they called her ‘Blubber.’ Bullying comes to most of us in one form or another.
The bullying is all about shaming and humiliating the victim. Some school-children are so persistently attacked, the parental option is to home school.
Victims may not want to wake up and face school. They may self-harm or fake sickness to stay home.
Some may be targeted because of their appearance, their skin colour or ethnicity. Others are put down because they are academically superior or the opposite.
Bullies decide who’s in, who’s not, who is ‘cool’ and they will let their opinion be known in aggressive, put you in your place ways.
When dealing with this problem it is important to recognise the bully, whether boy or girl, is in as much need as the victim. Their aggressive behaviour may stem from personal anger or inferiority and the need to bring others down.
In fact, there are three groups involved where bullying occurs (1) the victim, (2) the bully and (3) the bystanders, who may be classmates, workmates, family members.
Christian children may face very specific attacks.
Wisdom calls for consultation with others. Go to people you respect and search for the best for your child and for the bully. What is the best outcome?
Bullying goes on beyond the classroom. Earlier this year as a result of action by the Transport Workers Union, those who bully South Australian Public Transport workers will face up to 25 years jail.
Jesus shared the bottom line. “A new command, I give you: Love one another, as I have loved you..” (John 13:34) Anger kills. Love brings life, even into the most trying situations.
Safe and Secure
When you buckle into an aircraft the cabin crew asks you to observe very clear safety instructions. Parents apply the oxygen masks before the children. It makes sense. The parent must be free to protect the child. The parent needs to be free to respond so the situation does not get out of hand.
So it is when dealing with bullying. Deal with your adult feelings first. Help your child feel safe and secure with you on their side. Give them confidence in you and your wisdom and maturity. Be the example and panic and anger will not help.
Avril Lavigne (pictured) is a Canadian singer who launched her own Foundation to touch the lives of young people. “Our work has allowed Special Olympics athletes from across the world to compete at the World Games, brought music therapy to children with serious illnesses, provide Lyme disease treatment to kids who could not afford care, and helped youth with disabilities attend summer camp where they formed lifelong, supportive friendships.”
She is in touch with teens. She wrote the song “I’m with You.” She sings “I’m looking for a place, I’m searching for a face, Is anybody here I know, ‘Cause nothing’s going right, And everything’s a mess And no one likes to be alone” Isn’t anybody trying to find me? Won’t somebody take me home?”
Those lyrics reminds me how important it is to know there is someone you can count on. Jesus said, “I am with you, even to the end.” (Matthew 28:20) On her home page (avrillavigne.com) Lavigne wrote “Each action we take, large or small, is helping to change a life.’
Where bullying is concerned are we aware? Help is available. Talk to a doctor, a pastor or a school principal. It’s important to take bullying seriously and not brush it off. Visit a website like kidshealth.org for specialist advice.