The Cokesbury Kids blog is all about ministry!

Our goal is to provide ideas and examples to assist you as you minister to families and teach the gospel to the kids in your community.

Dealing with Bullying at Church

by Selena Cunningham -

One of the most challenging parts of childhood (and often adulthood) is learning to get along with people who are different from you. As children navigate the experience of encountering and learning to get along with those who are different from them in appearance, culture, dress, thought, and preferences, there are things that adults can do to help them learn to interact appropriately.


Educate Children About Bullying at Church


One of the negative responses that children sometimes have to those who are different from them is bullying. Children need to be educated about bullying so that they recognize when it’s happening to them and also to avoid doing it to other children. They need to know that bullying is never acceptable behavior for themselves or their peers. They also need to understand the effects that bullying behavior has on others.


Remind children that bullying can:

  • cause people to have low self-esteem,
  • cause people to be afraid or feel unsafe,
  • take away a person’s happiness.


So how do you teach children to recognize bullying? Let them know that it can come in many forms. Bullying can be a wide range of behaviors that make a person feel uncomfortable or hurts his or her feelings. For example, it could involve physically hurting someone by doing things like pushing, kicking, or punching. It can also involve taking things that belong to another person. Calling a person names, mocking, or making fun of a person can also be bullying.

Teach children what to do if they are bullied:

  • Remind children that it is also OK to walk away and remove themselves from the presence of a bully.
  • Let them know that it’s OK to speak up; being bullied should never be kept a secret from trusted adults who can help.
  • Encourage them to act quickly––tell an adult immediately if they see bullying or if bullying happens to them.

Children need to learn that bullying is not the way that God wants us to treat others. At the same time, they need to know that God loves both those who are being bullied and those who are doing the bullying. This can be challenging to teach, but it can also be an opportunity for a lesson about God’s love and forgiveness.


Teaching Children to Forgive at Church


While not every situation can be easily forgiven and not every child who bullies another learns to stop quickly, there are times when behaviors change and forgiveness is merited. It may be hard for a child who has been through a bullying experience to forgive or accept the other child. Be patient. Though relationships should not be forced, it is important that children learn not to hold grudges that can eat away at their happiness or change them from a kind person to an unkind one. In situations where the child who needs forgiveness is truly sorry and trying to make amends, remind children that no matter how imperfect we are, God accepts us and forgives us, and we are called to follow God in this example and accept and forgive one another. And remember, forgiveness is a difficult concept for many adults; it’s not something we can expect children to do perfectly.


Do you sometimes feel like you're an event planner disguised as a children's minister? Check out Sarah Flannery's recent post for encouragement.