If you’ve spent any time in youth ministry over the last decade (if you’re reading this, chances are you have!), then you don’t need us to tell you that bullying is a hard-to-handle hot topic in the lives of most students. You’ve probably dealt with your fair share of it in your own ministry context. And even if you haven’t yet, a quick Google search or scan of the news will show you just how much bullying is impacting the lives of middle schoolers around the country. It’s a trending topic in their world, and because of that, it’s something we want to talk about in an environment that’s safe and healthy for students—an environment like our youth ministries.
When addressing the topic of bullying in your youth ministry, here are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Take a proactive approach. Instead of waiting for bullying to be an explosive issue in your community or youth ministry, start talking about it now. Don’t wait! Give your students the tools they need now to help them if and when they may find themselves in a bullying situation.
- Give them the why. Rather than simply telling students that bullying is bad or something they shouldn’t do, help them understand why it isn’t God’s best for their lives. By letting the why sink in, the hope is that students will see the impact of bullying on a deeper level and begin to change the way they treat or respond to others.
- Remember your audience. Keep in mind that in just one room, you’ll have students who represent a number of different perspectives and experiences with bullying. In one talk, you’re speaking to several bullies, more who have been bullied, and even more who have witnessed bullying in their schools or homes. Do your best to address and speak to each group.
- Know your stuff. One of the best things you can do is to know what’s happening in your own community. What bullying prevention programs are available? What resources do your local school systems have to help students who are dealing with bullying? Have there been well-known instances of bullying in your community? Knowing what the conversation is around bullying in your context will help you better know how to communicate to your students on the topic.
- Be ready with resources. A series on bullying may be the catalyst to a lot of different Small Group conversations. Be ready to provide your students and Small Group Leaders with resources to help them navigate those conversations. Set those discussions up for success from stage by sharing a few resources your church has available to help students through bullying experiences. Then, make sure your Small Group Leaders have access to that same list should they need it as they guide their students through these discussions.
There you have it! 5 things to keep in mind when talking about bullying with your students. Have something else to add to this list? We want to hear your ideas!
Want to talk with your students about the topic of bullying but don’t know where to start? You’re in luck! XP3 Middle School just released a brand new two-week series on bullying. To learn more about XP3 curriculum, including this series on bullying, click HERE.