Leaders' Notes: Bullying: As simple as ‘sticks and stones’?

Introduction

The session outline provided serves as a guide for considering how we deal with the issue of bullying, whether as the target of bullying or prejudice or as onlookers. https://1movies.online/celebrity/tommy-ford-91851/actor

The purpose of the session is to try to understand what constitutes bullying, who might be the target of bullying and, most importantly what our faith teaches us about how we are to treat others and how we should respond to injustice.

The following passages should provide a good starting point for considering a Biblical response to bullying and acts of injustice and for developing a Godly attitude towards our ‘neighbours’.

Scriptures

  • Genesis 1: 26-27; Genesis 2: 4-7 & 18-22 – God created men and women in his own image and breathed his life into us, therefore each of us is marked with the divine.
  • Leviticus 19: 33 – ‘Aliens’ are to be treated with the same respect as fellow-countrymen.
  • Deuteronomy 10: 17-20 – God is concerned about those who need special care, the orphans, widows and aliens; those who need others to look out for their needs – we should share his concern.
  • Isaiah 58: 6-10 – True devotion to God is demonstrated through acts of justice, meeting the needs of the poor and careful speech.
  • Matthew 5: 1-12 – those who are humble before God and devoted to his ways will be blessed. Persecution is to be expected but God will reward those who endure it for his sake.
  • Matthew 5: 38-48 – Although these passages speak of humility in the face of injustice and even abuse, there is an underlying message of dignity and even boldness in what’s said here – Jesus doesn’t ask his followers to endure abuse without challenge, but he does encourage them to challenge that abuse by confronting the abuser with the injustice rather than fighting back.*
  • Matthew 11: 28-30 – Jesus invites us to come to him with the things that concern us & weigh us down.
  • Matthew 18: 15-16 – Respond to ‘sin’ by speaking the truth and giving those who’ve hurt you an opportunity to put it right.
  • Romans 8: 28-39 – we can overcome all of the trials of this life through the power of Christ because we have the love of Christ.
  • Galatians 3: 26-29 – we were all created equal and Jesus has redeemed that equal status.
  • Ephesians 5: 1-2 – live lives of love, in keeping with Christ’s example.
  • James 3: 1-12 – what we say has great consequences.

Quran

There are many ahadith illustrating the seriousness and prohibition against oppressing others.

In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah says, “Oh my servants, I prohibited oppression on myself, therefore don’t commit oppression.” Allah, himself, does not oppress, but rather he chose to start with himself to show his servants the graveness of the matter.

Dua of the oppressed: Allah promises to answer the dua of an oppressed person.

The Prophet (SAW) said: “Be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person, as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah gives an oath by His Majesty and Honour that anyone who is oppressed and invokes Him, He will grant him victory. There are three people who Allah will never reject their prayer. They are:
1) a just leader
2) a fasting person
3) someone who is oppressed

Something to bear in mind as you prepare for the session and throughout the day, is that each of these young people is likely to have encountered bullying in some way. It might be worthwhile considering having a welfare team on hand for people to talk to during the breaks or, if necessary, during the day as a whole – you wouldn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to talk about something that’s affecting them personally, whether it’s a situation they’re involved in, or a problem a friend is facing. Talk this over as a leadership team to prepare a strategy. You might want to ask people who are unknown to the group and aren’t involved in leading the day as this may be less threatening.

Practical Points

There are parts of the session that may require more time and preparation in advance, here’s a list of ideas and resources that you might find useful to get things planned ahead of time, helping things to run more smoothly on the day:

Activity
Aim
Suggested Resources
What you see……is what you get?

The point of these opening activities is to establish an understanding that we all make judgements based on external factors. These judgements aren’t inherently ‘bad’ but it’s important that we understand that we do make judgements and that, whilst they serve a purpose, we can’t take everything a ‘face value’ – sometimes what we see isn’t what we get. First impressions aren’t always true impressions.

It’s up to you what you choose as your two categories – it can be an arbitrary physical feature like eye colour or something non-physical like an individual’s profession. Whatever you do, try to include people with a range of physical features in your selection of pictures – you might give your group a helping hand by including some famous faces.

If you have the time and resources, it’d be great to put the pictures up on a screen for everyone to see as you reveal the true categories.

What’s in a name?

To highlight the fact that words, and names in particular have meanings and those meanings have significance.

Include ‘Muslim’ and ‘Christian’ names (names given in the Qur’an or the Bible) as well as names from other cultures. It might help to give variants or names that have similar meanings together. You can find a lot of information on the internet about names but meanings may vary depending on your source.

It might be fun to include leaders’ names leaders and those of members of the group. If anyone has a story about their names, i.e. why they were given that particular name, allow time for them to share about it.

Sticks and stones

Following on from the previous activity, this builds on the idea that names mean something to us and that it’s disrespectful when names are abused or misused and can cause a lot of hurt. The idea is to help the group think about the impact that our words have and how to use words to encourage and not to cause hurt.

Open with discussion about the previous activity; in particular draw on ideas that were shared about the personal significance that people’s names have for them.

In the groups they were working in before, get them to look at passages from the Qur’an and the Bible that talk about our use of words, the power of speech and the significance of our attitude when we speak

Get the group to write their ideas on a flip-chart sheet – what they understand to be important about how they speak and what the Qur’an and Bible teach.

Making judgements

Up to now the focus has been on the judgements we make and the words we use. This activity is meant to highlight the impact that these ideas have when they’re focussed negatively against someone i.e. what happens when people make negative judgements and choose to make a personal attack on someone based on their prejudices. The hope is that the group will come to understand that what we do about the judgements we make can have serious consequences.

There are a number of websites that deal with the issue of bullying such as BullyingUK and Childline – they often provide personal accounts of bullying which could be adapted. Alternatively you could interview friends, family or colleagues and ask them to share their personal experiences for you to use anonymously.

A good way of presenting this would be to record a series of clips outlining the scenarios (you can be as creative as you like with this) and get the groups to discuss them after each clip, noting down their reactions, whether they considered what was described to be bullying and how they came to that decision. Then either get their feedback after each clip or get it all at the end. It might be good to round this up by sharing the real-life outcomes of some of the stories.

Pride and prejudice

Given that we’ve all more than likely experienced some form of prejudice whether as a one-off incident or as ongoing bullying, we want to consider how our faith can help us respond to these prejudices. We also want to look at the expectations that we’re expected to meet as Christians and Muslims in how we treat others.

This should be as much about the young people sharing their own impressions about what their faith teaches as it is about them reciting Christian or Muslim teaching, so try to provide them with some helpful stimuli from the Bible and the Qur’an to help guide their thoughts but allow them to express their own thoughts on the passages. You might want to compile the information on a sheet or display it on a projector screen.

Stimulated to act

This should be a means of expressing not only their thoughts about the day’s discussion but also their feelings about bullying, whether it’s hurt over their own experiences, remorse over things they’ve said or done that might have caused others hurt, or their feelings over the injustice of how some people choose to treat others.

If you have access to a camcorder the groups might prefer to pre-record their work rather than perform ‘live’ if they choose to write a scene, monologues or poems.

Space will be an important issue for this, particularly if groups have scene to practice or film so, if possible have separate rooms for groups to practice and record their work.

Try to provide a wide range of resources, from clothes for your actors to wear to paints, brushes, collage materials, paper, fabric model-making equipment etc. Ask around in your local area to see where you can loan or use art materials. Many local councils have recycling projects that have art projects attached and you might be able to borrow or loan equipment from a drama group or youth centre.

Affecting change

Whether or not the groups choose to perform their work ‘live’ the point of this concluding session is to encourage the young people to share what they will take away from the session – and how they’ve captured those thoughts in the works they created.

The most important thing with this part of the day is creating an atmosphere of trust and respect, which hopefully will have been cultivated throughout the day through what the groups have shared. Encourage them to respect one another’s efforts and ideas.
Time is also an important factor – think carefully about how much time you allow for the groups to share their work.

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