Taking a Stand against Bullying

Post a Comment » Written on September 26th, 2012     
Filed under: Resources
Some of you may have read the recent article about a high school prank in Michigan that targeted an “unpopular” sophomore. Whitney Kropp of West Branch, Michigan, was surprised but excited to hear that she had been nominated for Homecoming Court earlier this month. She soon realized, however, that her nomination was nothing but a cruel prank. Humiliated, Kropp no longer wanted to participate in Homecoming activities. But Kropp’s mother, sister, and grandmother refused to let the bullies get her down. They encouraged Whitney to show up anyway and have a great time.

Word of the prank soon spread throughout the small town and, in a heartwarming twist, the town began to rally around Kropp. Dinner, photographs, hair and nails, a dress, and a tiara will all be provided for Kropp by local businesses. One resident created a Facebook page in support of Kropp, which now has over 87,000 “likes.” West Branch residents have also been overwhelmingly supportive, planning to pack the stadium on Friday so they can cheer for Kropp when her name is called. They plan on wearing Kropp’s favorite color (orange) and holding messages of support.

With bullying such a huge problem in schools today, and something that is oftentimes overlooked, it is so encouraging to hear about a group of people willing to rally around a bully victim, stand with her, and support her. Thankfully, this story had a happy ending. With the strong support she has received, Whitney Kropp recognized that she is “a beautiful person.” Indeed, she is, and I thank God she is able to see that in the midst of this cruel prank.

Unfortunately, we all know there are so many other stories that don’t have happy endings — tragic stories of bullying so severe that the victims, in some cases, feel there is no way out except suicide.

There are many different types of bullying, and for many different reasons. There are varying definitions of bullying, but most agree that bullying involves:*

  • An imbalance of power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.
  • Intent to cause harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
  • Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group.

Bullying can also take many forms: verbal, physical, social, and cyberbullying. Kids may be singled out for their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or appearance. No matter what form it takes or why someone is targeted, it is important to recognize that bullying is not just kids fooling around, it is not a phase, and it’s not something kids can just grow out of or get over. Bullying can cause serious, lasting damage.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about bullying is that there are almost always peers, adults, or community members who know that the bullying is going on, and do nothing.

It breaks my heart to think of kids being bullied and no one coming to their aid, no one advocating for them; kids feeling so hurt and alone and trapped that they feel there is no way out.

I wonder what we, the church, we, as youth workers can do. How can we come alongside bully victims and support them, advocate for them? How can we encourage our kids to be there for bully victims in their schools? Have any of you had experience with bullying? Perhaps in your own youth group? Please, share!


  • The Bully Project. Bully, the movie, was recently released in select theaters. It follows the stories of several youth who are constantly bullied in their schools. The Bully Project website provides facts and resources for parents, students, educators, and advocates. They also provide a few different ways to get involved. I would encourage you to have your kids take a stand and join the movement.
  • It Gets Better; aimed specifically at LGBT youth who are bullied and harassed
  • Stopbullying.gov provides risk factors, tips for prevention, and other resources for parents, students, and community members

*Bullying definitions taken from the Bully Project website.

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