Eighth graders taking Leadership Class with Dr. Shalen Bishop recently learned that what seems like simple silly banter, can quickly escalate into an incident, and spiral into what some would consider bullying.

“It just takes one bad day for something that is meant as a joke to escalate into something big,” Dr. Bishop explains to his class.

Students in this class watched the famous documentary ‘Bully’ in class. The film was eye opening for some as it shares ideas and concepts that students may never have thought of before watching it.

“I’m learning to more carefully watch what I say to people,” says 8th grader, Faith Granderson. “If I’m upset I can say things that I don’t think affect people but they actually do. After watching this video, I realize it could lead to some drastic events.”

“Just a little bit of bullying can lead to big bullying,” says 8th grader Lee Twombly.

The documentary gives an example of ongoing bullying that leads to the extreme consequence of suicide. “This documentary demonstrates the impact that bullying can have on our youth and society. We are blessed at TCS that bullying is not to this extreme and it is our hope and prayer that it will never get this way,” says Dr. Shalen Bishop, TCS Middle and High School Principal. “This is a national issue and as a Christian school, we want to teach our students that while we are all sinners, we must continually strive to create a Christ-centered loving environment that will empower one another to be more Christ-like.”  As Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are teaching our students to encourage and build up one another.

Teaching this even at the youngest age can make the biggest difference. That’s why elementary grades at TCS are also learning all about bullying from Sam the puppet. TCS Elementary Principal Kristie McInerney uses Sam, a puppet she created, to help her teach the students.

“Sam is a puppet who has been bullied and because of that he’s really shy. We talk about the feelings that go along with bullying. A lot of kids can relate,” says McInerney.

Sam the puppet shares three tools the children should use when they feel unsafe:

  1. Tell the person to stop and use your words.
  2. If that doesn’t work, go to a teacher or a safe adult.
  3. Be kind anyway and forgive.

“It’s a life skill to learn how to handle it when someone is not nice to me. Do I lash out? Do I sit in a corner or cry? Do I not make any friends? No, I can be proactive and these are the tools,” explains McInerney. “We came up with the slogan – It’s Time to Be Kind.”

Students are continually reminded of Jesus’ instructions to “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. “ Luke 6:31 Whether K4 or upper grades, at TCS the issue of bullying really all comes back to the cross.

“We live in such a me world where everything revolves around me. As Christians we need to be Christ centered,” says McInerney.

Students are learning that others may not take words or actions the way they were intended. As Christians we need to carefully guard our words when speaking verbally and in writing. This is particularly key for the middle school and high school students who use Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

Bishop says, “If you center your choices and your words around Christ, you will never have to worry about falling into the trap of being mean and unkind.” Jesus said, “… For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:34&36)

Assemblies with Sam on the topic of bullying continue throughout the year for elementary grades. Students in K4-12 will continue to focus on kindness and treating one another with respect. It’s something they are constantly reminded of by their teachers along with the fact that kindness is what Jesus modeled for us.  “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32