The inaugural ‘Do it for Dolly Day‘ in Australia has a focus on bullying, a factor that led to the suicide of Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, at age 14.
(see also National Day of Action (NAD)against Bullying and Violence. The 9th NAD was held on 9th March, 2019 and is held annually on the third Friday in March in Australia. In the UK, Anti-Bullying Week is taking place from Monday 11th November – Friday 15th November 2019. Canada has Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in November. Check out dates for your own country and talk about this issue in your family, churches and community)
The problem of bullying and harassment – whether online or offline – isn’t caused by social media. It’s caused by human behaviour. And cyber-bulling is an increasing problem, when harassment is done via electronic means like texting, email, and social media. Whether the bullying is done in person, over the internet, or with a phone, the effects are very harmful. Some examples of cyberbullying include:
* Sending mean or threatening e-mails, messages, or texts
* Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others
* Sending or forwarding private messages to others
* Sharing explicit pictures with others without consent
* Starting rumors via text message or online
* Creating fake online proﬁles on websites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. to make fun of people
According to a Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate Research Study, 43% of the 83 million millennials have personally experienced incivility online or cyberbullying. BBC NewsBeat online reported the results of the global study that documented most young people feel cyberbullying is “worse than face-to-face abuse.” This research also suggests that cyberbullying negatively affects one’s mental health.
Though the effects of bullying have often overlooked and downplayed, as more research has been done, bullying has been shown to have long lasting negative effects – in extreme cases with deadly results. Students who are bullied are more likely to be anxious, depressed, have feelings of loneliness and insecurity, have trouble sleeping, skip school or drop out, struggle with getting good grades, feel unsafe, etc. Sometimes, bullying has played a role in students (like Dolly) deciding to commit suicide.
We need to be talking about this! Bullying prevention is everyone’s responsibility.
Australian child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said that up to 70% of primary-aged kids are on social media. He said that developing brains “simply do not have the neurological maturity to manage their digital footprint”. So there is a pressing need to teach kids good digital citizenship and resilience in the face of bullying and to help them manage social media well and under supervision.
We need to ‘stand together against bullying’.
A prayer for those who are bullied
Let us remember that when we laugh at someone, they feel pain.
Let us remember that when we pick on someone they are angry but also afraid.
Let us remember that when we don’t stick up for someone who is being bullied, they are alone.
Let us remember that we bully because we want to feel strong, the boss.
But are we? What have we done?
We have forgotten our own fear by making others frightened.
We have forgotten our own loneliness by leaving one of us alone.
We have hidden our own nightmare in another’s terror.
It is no longer enough to be sorry.
It is no longer enough to boast and swagger.
These attitudes are hollow, skating on the thin ice of our own fears, our own hates.
May we have the courage to confront ourselves in the ‘not me’, ‘don’t want to know’, ‘it’s their problem’, ‘I’m not involved’.
May we have the courage to confront ourselves in the ‘I’m right’, ‘She’s black’, ‘He’s stupid’, I’m me and it’s my world, not theirs’.
For we are all hurt, all afraid, all alone, all different, all me, and the world is all ours.
We all have only one life.
(Source: Centre for Christian Studies)
We pray that you can protect us and keep us safe from harm
We pray that you guide us and help us to make wise decisions
We know we must always try to love one another and we must not take pleasure in the misfortune and pain of others
Let us use technology and the internet to enhance our lives so we can learn and work and not to do evil
May technology serve us Lord, so that we may better serve one another and serve you. Amen
(Source: Bishop Walsh)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(Source: attributed to St Francis)
Listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah. Here, God says to Jeremiah:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:4-5)
God knew us before we were born. God brought each of us into the world for a special reason. And so, we must always treat each other with love and respect, because God has a special place for all of us.
Listen to the words of the Prophet Isaiah. Here God gives these words to Isaiah to say to Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. …you are precious in my sight and I love you.” (Is 43 1b, 4a). God calls each of us by name to be in relationship with God forever, because we are precious in God’s eyes. Let us ask God to help us use each other’s names only in kindness.
Listen to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Mt 7:12) Jesus tells us that when we treat each other with kindness, we are living by God’s law. Let us ask Jesus to help us to live his law of love by treating one another as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God.
Listen to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. …I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” (Jn 15, 12-17)
Jesus calls all of us his friends. He showed us how to live as friends by laying down his life for us. He calls each of us to live his command to love one another,
-by putting aside unkind words,
-by never saying or doing anything that would hurt anyone else;
-by being an example of friendship and welcome with everyone, especially those who feel left out.
Let us live in the love of Jesus as friends.
Reading 5: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matt 5:9)
(Source: Tony Cosentino)
The ‘To This Day’ project video is emotional and heartbreaking, and may be a catalyst for discussion.