Legacies Article:
By Shannon Gilmour 2016


  Helping Kids be Kids
Shannon Malaka Copyright 2016

Bullying is a behavior that can be detected very early on in life and is often thought of as ‘kids being kids’. While it is true that some kids just don’t get along, it is important to identify the reasons behind such behavior as bullying is never just an isolated incident.

Bullying is hard to stop because most bullying behavior begins within the privacy of the home. Some children may even grow up and continue the bully behavior in their adult life.

Bullying is characterized as being unwanted negative behavior that occurs frequently but most often in secret. Bullying can take place anywhere and can effect anyone. Children and adults alike are not immune to bullying as it can occur at school, at home, at the work place, even over the internet.

Most advocates against bullying suggest that standing up to the aggressor will eventually stop negative behavior. This isn't always a good start, as most often the bully escalates the behavior out of embarrassment and humiliation, or they  turn their behavior towards someone else.

So what can you do if you or someone you know is being bullied?

Tell someone you trust and know who will help. If you are uncertain or afraid of telling someone, consider contacting your local crisis outreach center for some valuable suggestion. In the meantime, here are some helpful hints in this article that may help to alleviate bullying.

Sometimes telling someone in a position of trust doesn’t help.

But you can.

God created you with fear and trembling. He knew you before you were born and set you out apart from all the rest of the people in this world! You are a treasure and you are God’s child. He put that little bitty faith in you as a gift to enable you to have something to grow on.

Did you know that God tells us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we do? This means that we should never look down on someone no matter their circumstances, including a bully and yourself, if you are being bullied.

It’s hard not to feel ashamed, rejected and dejected when someone torments us, and it is hard not to hold bad feelings towards those who inflict pain. However God has a way for us to rise above all that hate and anger and that is to try to understand the situation from the side of a bully.

A bully feels all those things that they put on others. While they may shove someone in a locker or roll someone’s lunch apple down the school bus isle and proceed with name calling, ( this happened to me) they feel as if they are the ones who are having this done to them. Most likely they are, only worse, we just don’t get to see it because of what goes on in their private lives.  

The aggressive behavior is a coping skill that they use to gain control of their feelings. They are made to feel so low in some way that to make themselves feel not so low, they have to make someone feel lower.

While God does not expect you to try to make friends with a bully, it is easier to cope by understanding where the behavior is coming from. It isn’t because you are you. Their actions have everything to do with how they are feeling. The bully does everything in their power to force you to feel what they were meant to feel. It doesn’t make the victimization right, and even the bully is accountable for their reactions and so are you.

If you can understand a bit about bullying, then maybe if you are enduring this aggressive behavior, or know someone is, the better you are able to stop the victimization by changing your behavior.

Knowledge is power and the more you know the less likely you are to empower negative feelings and burden your heart with unnecessary guilt and shame. Bullying makes victims out of us all, and how to combat it in its many forms is to stop allowing it to continue by enabling God to strengthen your heart.

Did you know that it is your first reaction with a bully that determines how you will be treated?

Bullies tend to be very observant individuals and look for certain types of behavior in order to single out their victims. While this is most likely an unconscious thought, the bully seems to gravitate to those who show certain types of traits.  

These traits are difficult to list as bullies often look for certain types of emotional vulnerabilities. The best way to protect yourself from any sort of bullying is to put emotional boundaries in place to ensure that the offensive person backs off.

Emotional boundaries are likened to one’s personal space. Stand in one spot, and put your arms out to your side. Twist your torso around so that your arms move from side to side. This imaginary circle is the imaginary boundary line of your physical personal space. Your personal space is the area around your person. You allow people to enter your personal space in times when emotional comfort is needed, or when you are experiencing a sense of trust and security.

Often times without notice, a bully is allowed to invade the personal space boundary and before their violation is detected, the individual is caught off guard by force, either through verbal or physical abuse. Once the personal space boundary is violated, it is that much easier to violate the emotional boundary.

Sometimes a bully’s easiest target has no emotional boundary put in place, these are the victims who take bullying the hardest, succumbing to emotional damages that lead to self harming methods such as alcohol/drug abuse, cutting, promiscuity, and suicide.


Kids and adults are trusting by nature, a bully however finds it very difficult to trust others and most often expects to be hurt in some way. They sabotage healthy relationships to prove to themselves emotionally that they are as bad as their aggressor has told them. Because of their un-trusting nature, they look for those who are trusting; too trusting. Because a person who accepts  everyone without question into their emotional and personal space, is a person who may not have a grasp of their own individuality- yet.

This is not meant to be negative. By becoming your own personal advocate early,  you  get to decide who you choose to accept as a friend, and who to avoid.  By being a friend to yourself first enables you to be a best friend to others later. When you know what you want, you will be able to make decisive decisions that have lasting benefits.

Learn when to say no.

No one likes to be denied and no one likes to deny others for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. However, in order to say no to others respectfully, one must learn to say no personally. Respecting yourself and putting limits on your moral behavior shows others how they can respect you.

Denying oneself is a bit tricky, especially if peer pressure is involved. As a Christian this can be especially difficult when scripture tells us that we are constantly wrestling between right and wrong. However we do not have to struggle with these choices ourselves as saying no was never meant to be left up to our own judgment. We do not know enough about the goodness in ourselves to know how to make sound choices that keep us on the straight and narrow, this is why we need the teachings of Jesus.

Through His leadership, we become equipped with the knowledge and forethought to be able to make the right decisions for ourselves and leave the wrong ones behind. This happens over time, not over night. When you begin to study the teachings of Christ and allow His ways to become yours, you will see a gradual shift in you behavior and outlook. This is what will eventually reflect to others. Allowing Jesus to become completely involved in your life allows you to become confident and successful in forming healthy relationships and situations for your lifetime.

How to allow Jesus full access of your life:

This is not just merely allowing Jesus into your heart through a belief and statement of faith. To allow Jesus complete access over all your life is to study His teachings and implement those teachings in every aspect of what you do because they become who you are.

Through acting upon His word, your character becomes motivated to activate the person you are to become in the kingdom of God. This is why Christianity is called a lifestyle change. The you that you feel has a lot of growing to do, as growth happens through out our lives. We are never to young or too old to love God and how we love Him is through a committed relationship with Him.

Studying and implementing the word of God is a discipline in love.

Loving God can be challenging, however we approach God through our standards of love. Love in a humanistic sense is determined by how much or how little affection, or attention the other person gives. We love, based on the love we have given to others who have come and gone from our lives. Because of this, the love that we have to give is only as genuine as the previous experience. Doesn’t this sound so complicated?

“God is love.” 1 John 4:16

God’s love is not complicated because it is not comparable by our standards. How He loves us is through genuine means that never experienced pain, hate or betrayal. Scripture shows us how God loves us and it is something that we can model our own hearts by.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud,. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

How we love God is to express that love by emotional human standards. We show God how much we love Him through the little effort we give in maintaining a relationship with Him. We have experience in loving people who are distant from us. It maybe that a favorite relative lives a considerable distance away from you, but just because you do not get to see them as much as you like, you do not love them any less. This is how we view our relationship with God. With our distant relatives, we could pick up the phone, write a letter, send a quick email, but we never do. Although our intention is to sit down and offer them a quick hello, it seldom happens, because life gets in the way.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we have access to Him all the time. He is as close as His very name! We have access to Him, through prayer and through His word. His word is what we carry in our hearts as we become mindful of God in our behavior and choices we have to make. When we allow our hearts to carry Jesus through emulating ourselves after His behavior; He becomes a part of us, and we Him. This gives us direct access and no longer is Jesus a distant relative!

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

Loving God is a daily commitment because His love teaches us discipline in what it means to love Him, ourselves, and others. When we love ourselves we treat others how we want to be treated. Committing ourselves to God in love, His way helps to put away questions we may have concerning our self worth and our potential places in society.

With that said, it should be recognized that although the bully shows unwanted negative behavior, they are just as much in need of God’s love as the one they are inflicting pain on. Bullies are people too and every effort should be made to help them also.

It is said that hurt people hurt people, and this is a very truthful statement. In order to get past the hurt, one needs to recognize it and in the heart of the lost and hurting, self worth is so far removed, they are in a state of constant emotional torment that convinces them that they are unworthy.

How can you help?

God loves those who are His own, and even though we make mistakes, everyone has a right to know God and feel His love and forgiveness.  It is easy to hate a bully. However, every effort should be made to try to reconcile understanding with love.

  •   Journal keeping is a positive step to restoring one’s emotional health and well being. One often can put thoughts and feelings down on paper without judgment or ridicule. I would recommend this form of healing to anyone who is battling any time of emotional pain. Consider making your journal your own, and include healing bible scriptures, prayer comments, thoughts and ideas about the love you have for God.

If you see bullying, I would encourage others to not only come to the aid of the person who is being bullied, but also offer a hand in friendship. Often times bullies isolate and separate their victims, and this kind of victimization leads to silent suffering. Individual support through peer support is essential in combating the effects of bullying.

Often times in emotional battles we are left asking God the question, why He allows such things to happen. Just because we are God’s children does not mean that we get to live a life carefree and without our own battles to win.

Scripture has a very good answer for this, as I discovered this as I tried to seek God’s answers for my own life. The reason why we endure heartache and pain at the hands of others is to enable us to help people in a way that allows us to relate to the pain that they are going through.

We are all in this life together, and scripture tells us that we are to lean on like minded individuals for help, support, comfort and strength. It makes bullying or any conflict- that much easier to understand when we find those who have also endured pain but discovered success through it without all the emotional scars.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

Bullying is something that we will have to deal with as the love for others grows cold. However that does not mean we cannot stop the effects of bullying. Bullying can be reduced by becoming an advocate towards the healing process.

Statistics bring attention and awareness to the problem, but the solution can only begin and end with each individual who decides to take an active role by becoming the voice that is silenced. There are many ways to help, but making personal character changes through Christ is the first step. Emulating a lifestyle in confidence, full assurance of faith and forgiveness helps those who are hurting and gives them foundation to lean on. By being the change that you want to see in the world you can take a stand against bullying that is both effective and healing with results that last for a lifetime!

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent- not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

About the author:
Shannon Malaka is a trained peer support counselor helping others who are enduring emotional and physical crisis. Shannon helps those who are suffering from depression, and is an advocate in suicide prevention and intervention. As a youth, Shannon was bullied and had the opportunity to confront one of those bullies when she was older. The situation was extremely healing and empowering even though the person did not remember.

" This person did not remember, but that was okay. I let them know because should their child have to endure such a thing, maybe they will find ways to be their child's advocate and help in love and devotion."
If you need to talk please reach Shannon through the contact link. All correspondence is confidential.