Monday, January 3, 2011

Bullying: a Good Reason to Homeschool, but ...

Bullying is a reason why some families choose homeschooling. When a tormented child is removed from school, the school bully loses power over him or her. The homeschool child benefits from being removed from a stressful situation and of course benefits from one-on-one attention and the ability to focus on learning in the safe and loving environment of home.

The bullies of 30 or more years ago seem quite innocent compared to the bullies of today. Bullies in the 21st century have gone anonymous thanks to the power of the Internet. Rumors and pictures can zip around school with lightning speed thanks to modern technology. School bullies can even needle and torment their victims without anyone knowing who they are. For example, a bully (or group of bullies) can build up a mob of haters against their victim by creating a bogus page in the victim’s name and posting insults aimed at other students. The victim may protest that he or she isn’t the culprit and doesn’t even have a MySpace or Facebook account, but who would believe it after seeing that person’s name and likeness on the screen? School then becomes a daily nightmare. Bullies also have the means to design games with the victim’s likeness – games where the object may be, as it was in at least one local instance, to kill the victim. How would you feel if classmates greeted your child in the school hallway with “Hey! I killed you last night!” Sadly, there are adults who actually think the victims of this type of bullying should just “suck it up and be a man.” The parent of the victim may become a victim of bullying as well if he or she demands that the authorities investigate and prosecute! What is this world coming to when a parent is told not to protect a child from this – or any -- kind of abuse?

Bullying causes so much pain and suffering that it has even led to suicide. It is our right to protect our children. Contrary to what some ignorant people believe, bullying does not breed character. There is no “bright side” to being the victim of a bully. We don’t send untrained soldiers into battle to learn how to fight, do we? How can anyone think that sending a child into bully territory will teach the child how to cope with bullies?

Homeschooling may be the answer to the bullying epidemic, but I have bad news for you. Bullies can be found in the homeschool community too. I’ve done my research and was disappointed to find that sometimes homeschoolers pick on each other. Put a group together, whether it’s a co-op or other activity, and any bully included will find someone within that group to torment. Parents must be vigilant. Victims are often afraid to tell. You don’t know what threats might keep them quiet. I read about parents who were shocked that their home educated child hid the abuse from them!

I Corinthians 15:33 tells us “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” What does that tell me? It tells me that God expects us to know what kind of children and adults surround our sons and daughters. We have a duty to protect our children. Don’t be deceived into thinking that homeschoolers are all honorable, decent people. I wish that were the case. It’s easy to think so when you are part of a small church group of homeschoolers. However, we’re all sinners, whether saved by grace or not. We can’t assume that mean-spirited behavior won’t be a part of the homeschooling experience.

Let’s teach our children what bullying is and make sure they know that we won’t tolerate any bullying aimed at them – or coming from them.  Parents need to love their children enough to stand up for them and protect them from danger. We need to make it clear that we won’t tolerate other children being bullied, and we won’t allow bullies (even if they are our own flesh and blood) to continue their abusive behavior. Love them enough to bring consequences that may teach them to change their bullying ways and have a chance at a happier life.

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