Task Force on Bullying, Harassment, and Related Violence
The Witness and Service Ministry Team strategic direction: We will enhance lives of service to deal with social needs and issues that arise in local communities or across the synod.
The Task Force on Bullying, Harassment, and Related Violence exists to encourage new partnerships between congregations and their local school districts and/or Lutheran and community organizations as they work together to encourage preventative programs and to provide access to resources for education and informing the public about ways to address bullying among our youthful populations.
This task force was begun in 2012 in response to a resolution passed at the 2011 Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly. It has become a part of the social ministry network of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Members of the task force are: Pr. Colleen Cox, AiM Marlane Druckenmiller, Mr. Greg Gill, Pr. John Lamb, Pr. Paulette Obrecht (convener), Pr. Tom Richards, and a representative from the Synod Council (to be appointed).
Resources for Recognizing and Responding to Bullying (Updated 6/2014)
Center for Humanistic Change, Inc.: Many programs available for schools, workplaces, and community organizations on a variety of topics, including violence and bullying.
Diakon Family Life Services, Northeast offers counseling services to children, youth, adolescents, adults, couples and families at their Topton office. These counseling services are designed to support individuals experiencing a variety of concerns, such as people struggling with depression, relationship issues, anxiety, blending families, victimization, among others. Contact Dawn Conner, LMFT, Clinical Director at (610) 682-1227 for more information.
Joint Conflict Resource Team: The purpose of the Joint Conflict Resource Team is to educate and provide resources to congregations and church leaders experiencing conflict.
The team can educate congregations to use conflict constructively. Teams can provide an objective perspective on a situation, provide guidance and assistance in identifying issues to lead all to be instruments of Christ’s peace. JCRT provides assessment, coaching, referrals, leadership development, and a faith-based approach to conflict. Contact information: The Rev. A. William Metzger, Penn Northeast Conference, (610-737-1970), Email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other helpful links
American Girl: Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way. Written for 6-13-year-old girls with real experiences they can relate to as well as assertive words they can use to deal with meanness.
Blanco, Jodee: Please Stop Laughing at Me…Survivor, expert, and activist Jodee Blanco has created an anti-bullying program, “It’s NOT Just Joking Around!”
Blanco, Jodee: Please Stop Laughing at Us…Sequel to Please Stop Laughing at Me that includes advice, answers, and solutions to school bullying.
Coloroso, Barbara: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. Ms. Coloroso draws “on her decades of work with troubled youth and her wide experience in the areas of conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice” to explain the dynamics of bullying and detail what parents can do to help their children who are bullied, who bully others, and who witness bullying.
Dellasega, Cheryl and Nixon, Charisse: Girl Wars: 12 Strategies that Will End Female Bullying. These two experts explain how to prevent relational aggression, how to intervene and how to overcome the culture that breeds it.
Gardner, Olivia (with Emily and Sarah Buder): Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope. Olivia “was severely taunted and cyber-bullied by her classmates for more than two years. News of her bullying spread, eventually reaching two teenage girls from a neighboring town, sisters Emily and Sarah Buder. The girls were so moved by Olivia’s story that they initiated a letter-writing campaign to help lift her spirits. This gesture of solidarity set off an overwhelming chain reaction of support, encouragement, and love” when thousands of messages began arriving from all over America – personal, often painful remembrances of former targets, remorseful bullies, and sympathetic bystanders.
Machoian, Lisa: The Disappearing Girl: Learning the Language of Teenage Depression. This book helps parents understand the subtle differences between teen angst and problem behavior as well as vulnerabilities girls experience in dating, friendship, school, and families.
Mitchell, Maggie: The Big Stink. A children’s storybook about friendship and bullying.
Olweus, Dan: Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Many Pennsylvania schools are using the Bullying Prevention Program developed by Dan Olweus.
Books: Adult Bullying in the Congregation
Who are the pastor abusers? They are mean-spirited church members who criticize and bully their pastor with the goal of forcing him out of the church. While most church members are supportive of their minister, pastor abusers are usually only a small group, and are often running the church. Can anything be done to stop them? What can a pastor do when he is under attack? What are the minister’s options after being fired or forced out of the church? Pastor Abusers: When Sheep Attack Their Shepherd is a survival manual for pastors, explaining what is happening behind the scenes and the driving forces behind the attacks.. Helpful advice is given, telling pastors how to respond to the harassment. This book lists thepastor’s four options after leaving the church, along with a listing of ministry and secular job websites.
Failure of Nerve is essential reading for all leaders, be they parents or presidents, corporate executives or educators, religious superiors or coaches, healers or generals, managers or clergy. Friedman’s insights about our regressed, seatbelt society, oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today.
Suspicious of the quick fixes and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, he argues for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership. His formula for success is more maturity, not more data; stamina, not technique; and personal responsibility, not empathy.
Though some conflict in the church may be normal, there are some types of conflict which are abnormal and abusive. Within some congregations there are personalities who seek to unsettle the relationship between minister and congregation. In this engaging and useful book, G. Lloyd Rediger offers strategies to prevent abuse, support clergy, and to build healthier congregations.
Ronald W. Richardson helps us to understand how congregations function emotionally. Without being simplistic, he gives clear directions on how to improve their quality of life together and function more effectively in achieving mission goals. This book offers: A theory about human behavior that will aid understanding of how things can get out of control in the human community of the church; A practical set of leadership ideas and behaviors; Guidelines for how to behave in the midst of upsetting and conflictual circumstances; Personal steps that leaders in the church can take to become more positive forces for healing and cooperation.
Anxious times call for steady leadership. When tensions emerge in a congregation, its leaders cannot be as anxious as the people they serve. To remain effective, congregational leaders must control their own uneasiness. This takes self-awareness and confidence to manage relationships and influence behaviors. Knowing how to deal with anxiety and how to work throug complex challenges can lead a congregation to new insights, growth, and vitality. Anxious times hold not only the potential for loss but also for creation, important learnings, and changes that will strengthen thecongregation. Steinke inspires courage in leaders to maintain the course, unearth secrets, resist sabotage, withstand fury, and overcome timidity or doubts. His insights, illustrations, and provocations will carry leaders through rough times, provide clarity during confusing times, and uplift them in joyous times.
In this sequel to How Your Church Family Works, Peter Steinke takes readers into a deeper exploration of the congregation as an emotional system. He outlines the factors that put congregations at risk for anxiety and conflict. Learn ten principles of health, how congregations can adopt new ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, as well as how spiritually and emotionally healthy leaders influence the emotional system.
Drawing on the work of Bowen and Friedman, and on his own many years of counseling experience, Peter Steinke shows how to recognize and deal with the emotional roots of such issues as church conflict, leadership roles, congregational change, irresponsible behavior, and the effects of family of origin on current relationships.
Bully (2013; 98 min.): The original 2012 version was rated R due to language; however, a PG-13 version has come out for 2013. This beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Offering insight into different facets of America’s bullying crisis, the stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, this is a powerful and inspiring film that every educator, parent and teenager should see.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010; 94 min. PG) The hysterically funny, best-selling book comes to life in this smash-hit family comedy! Greg Heffley is headed for big things, but first he has to survive the scariest, most humiliating experience of any kid’s life – middle school! That won’t be easy, considering he’s surrounded by hairy-freckled morons, wedgie-loving bullies and a moldy slice of cheese with nuclear cooties!
The Iron Giant (1999; 86 min.; PG): This gentle reworking of Ted Hughes’s 1968 novella was the unseen gem of 1999. Hogarth, a young boy who lives in the Maine woods during the cold war, befriends a giant robot. As with E.T., the iron giant is a misunderstood outsider who becomes a child’s best friend, and Hogarth does his best to hide the massive figure from his mom (voiced by Jennifer Aniston) and the local scrap-yard beatnik (Harry Connick Jr.). Soon the suspicions of neighbors and a government agent (Christopher McDonald) spell trouble.
To Save a Life (2010; 120 min.; PG-13): To Save a Life is a powerful Christian film about suicide, faith, and the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of many. Set in an urban high school where the jocks are high on the popularity scale and partying is commonplace, the film opens with several striking segments that include a surprisingly uncensored look at a teen culture ripe with underage drinking, bullying, and sexuality. Jake is a popular basketball player who’s at the heart of every party, but when he witnesses a childhood friend commit suicide in the halls of their school, he begins to reflect upon how he treated his friend in recent years. With the help of a youth pastor, Jake sets out on a journey of transformation and personal growth that will reveal God’s unconditional love and Jake’s power to make a difference in the lives of others.
Aevidum: A program developed by students at a high school in Lancaster County, PA to help people become aware of the warning signs of depression and suicide AND to empower students to reach out to one another.
Center for Safe Schools: Statewide clearinghouse for schools, law enforcement, parents and others on school safety and youth violence prevention. Their Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit provides resources for parents, educators, and professionals serving children, youth and their families.
Characters Unite: USA Network’s award-winning public service program, was created to address the social injustices and cultural divides still prevalent in our society. Read about social issues, including bullying, and take the pledge: “As a character of the USA, I pledge to stand against intolerance, prejudice, discrimination, and hate, and to promote greater understanding and acceptance. I believe life is richer and we are stronger as a country when we see beyond stereotypes and appreciate each other for the characters we are. After all, characters are what make us, USA.”
Common Sense Media: Stand Up to Cyberbullying. Offers age-appropriate guidelines for encouraging responsible, respectful, and safe use of technology.
Davis, Stan and Nixon, Charisse: The Youth Voice Project. This study is the first known large-scale research project that solicits students’ perceptions about strategy effectiveness to reduce peer mistreatment in our schools. The goal of this project is to compile a body of knowledge describing the most helpful interventions in order to help adults and youth reduce bullying and harassment in their own schools.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America: Go to “search” and enter “bullying” to get a list of links to all kinds of articles on what Lutherans can do to address bullying.
Empowering Parents: Excellent resource for all kinds of parenting issues, including bullying.
Halligan, John: Parenting Suggestions Regarding Technology. John and Kelly Halligan lost their thirteen year old son, Ryan, to suicide in 2003. After his death, the Halligans learned the details of how Ryan had been ridiculed and humiliated by peers at school and online. In memory of his son, John spearheaded the Vermont Bully Prevention bill as well as mandatory suicide prevention education in public schools which were both signed into law.
International Institute for Restorative Practices: Safer Saner Schools. A whole-school change program that provides a cost-effective way to achieve lasting change that enhances and builds relationships between students, staff and parents, improves student behavior, reduces violence and bullying and creates a sense of community.
Kids Health: A website filled with resources on all kinds of issues impacting today’s families. Specific sections for parents, kids, and teens with informative articles such as Dealing with Bullies and Teaching Kids Not to Bully.
Not in Our Town: Stories of students and their communities standing together to stop hate and bullying. This website includes materials that can be used by parents and/or teachers for guided discussion. Videos also available.
Olweus, Dan: The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The program many Pennsylvania schools are using to tackle the problem of bullying. Backed by 35 years of research.
Pearce, Dan: Bullied.The Forgotten Memoirs. Dan Pearce’s blog,Single Dad Laughing, usually takes a positive, endearing, and sometimes even downright hilarious look at parenting. In this straightforward and very honest section of his blog, Dan recalls what it was like for him to be the bullied kid and invites discussion with readers.
Savage, Dan: It Gets Better Project. A website created by Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller to show young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth that they are not alone and that they CAN achieve happiness and success beyond their teen years.
Stop Bullying.gov: Centralized collection of federal resources on bullying. The US Department of Education says its will reinvigorate the Office for Civil Rights to vigorously investigate complaints of bullying and harassment.
Mennonite Church USA. “Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love,” http://www.mennoniteusa.org/resource-center/resources/agreeing-and-disagreeing-in-love/
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. “Workplace Bullying and Disruptive Behavior,” www.workplacebullying.org
Synod Resource Center
|BI317||Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way||Criswell, Patti Kelley|
|BI322||Please Stop Laughing at Me…||Blanco, Jodee|
|BI323||Please Stop Laughing at Us…||Blanco, Jodee|
|BI319||The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander||Coloroso, Barbara|
|BI324||Girl Wars: 12 Strategies that Will End Female Bullying||Dellasega, Cheryl and Nixon, Charisse|
|BI320||Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope||Gardner, Olivia (with Emily and Sarah Buder)|
|BI321||The Disappearing Girl: Learning the Language of Teenage Depression||Machoian, Lisa|
|BI318||The Big Stink||Mitchell, Maggie|
|BI325||Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do||Olweus, Dan|
|V21755||Stop Bullying! Standing Up for Yourself and Others||Mark Brown|
|V21756||Bullying: What Every Adult Needs to Know||Mark Brown|