The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Now what? There's a Sunday school bully

A child in my son's class is disruptive and bullies other students. What can I do?

Q: Sunday school isn’t always easy for my son. A child in his class is often disruptive during lessons and he’s been known to bully other students. What can I do?

photodiscA: Children don’t automatically become angels just because they walk into Sunday school. Like adults, they bring with them to church their problems, issues and personalities. Nonetheless, it’s critical for congregations to be safe and nurturing places for children to grow in faith — whether they’re victims or bullies.

Don’t ignore this problem. Have a private conversation with your child’s Sunday school teacher to learn more. If your church doesn’t have a discipline and guidance policy on its books, initiate the idea with the youth minister or pastor.

For other ideas, read “Bullying” at the ELCA Web site.




Posted at 7:56 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/9/2009

Here is what I would do. First I would pray, and ask the Holy Spirit's guidance. As I prayed, I would try to keep in mind that in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all the same. He doesn't have favorites, He loves this child in my son's class as much as he loves me and my son. I would try to remember that this child is God's child and that Christ died and rose for him/her as well as for me and my son. Then I would tell my son that we all sometimes have trouble doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. I would pray with my son for this child. It has been my experience that when I pray for people who give me trouble, they often times start treating me better. We would pray that our Lord would protect and keep this child in His care, that He would give this child every blessing that we would ask for ourselves, and that if it is His will, that He bring people into this child's life people who are living examples of those who do a good job of keeping the Golden Rule and lead people to this child who take the time to explain the Golden rule to him or her. Then I would ask that if it is His will, that my son and this child become buddies. I would suggest to my son that we invite this child to go to a movie or go bowling or just hang out at our house to throw a Frisbee or play video games or walk our puppy. Of course I would have to get with the child's parents before we did this, but this is a good thing to do as well, seeing as how we attend the same church, we should get to know one another. And somewhere in all this, between the praying and talking with my son and becoming friends with this child and his/her family, I would talk with the Sunday School teacher to get another perspective, because from my own experience with my son, I know that sometimes kids can exaggerate, and the problem my not be as big as my son claims.

I hope this helps you and your son and this child in your son's Sunday School class.

Grace& Peace,

Rollie Smith

Sharon Kaye

Sharon Kaye

Posted at 12:57 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/11/2009

Recent imaging research suggests that bullies' brains may be hardwired for sadism. Using function Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), images of bullies' brains showed that inflicting pain stimulated the brain pleasure centers of boys who are unusually aggressive, but showed no activity in brains of normal boys. Ethic Soup blog has a good article on this research here

Truth in Love

Truth in Love

Posted at 3:18 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/5/2009

I am glad to see The Lutheran addressing the problem of child on child bullying.  But what do you do when your pastor is a bully and is emotionally abusive toward church members?

It happens.  Why isn't this problem discussed in the ELCA? 



Posted at 6:46 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/9/2009

If your Pastor is a bully and emotionally abusive to church members confornt him, pray for him, if all fails, change church.

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