By Sana Saeed
According to the Sikh Coalition, one in ten young people who are repeatedly bullied drop out of school or change schools, and 85 percent of reported bullying cases go without intervention or response. Bullying has become an epidemic in the U.S. and globally, affecting communities regardless of faith. Cyber-bullying is another new phenomenon affecting youth with access to the internet and cellphones.
The good news is that faith communities have stepped up to create interfaith resources that all communities of faith can use to educate youth, educators, and parents about responding to bullying.
- Bullies to Buddies Curriculum by Izzy Kalman – Using the Golden Rule, Bullies to Buddies is a unique approach to reducing aggression and bullying in schools, at home, in workplaces, and any other environment. Izzy Kalman, an East Coast school psychologist and longtime critic of anti-bullying laws, introduced his unique curriculum, manuals, and training materials at the North American Interfaith Network’s 2011 NAINConnect. Bullies to Buddies’ approach relies on a practical application of the Golden Rule (treat your neighbour as you would treat yourself), as opposed to paying attention to negative behavior, which produces more negative behavior, especially when using punishment as a way to address bullying. Three free Bullies to Buddies manuals are available online in return for joining the online mailing list, including How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied Without Really Trying for children.
- Sikh Coalition Anti-bullying Resources for Educators, Parents and Youth – Today, over 60 percent of Sikh youth who wear turbans or patkas report being bullied. The more recent shootings at Oak Creek in Wisconsin point to the need for better education about the diverse religious communties living in our midst. The Sikh Coalition provides an extensive list of educational resources for youth of all ages from interfaith and Sikh perspectives on addressing bullying. They have excellent informative resources in various languages about Sikhism and the presence of the Sikh community in the U.S. dating back a hundred years. I found this high-school power-point presentation to be particularly helpful, detailing important facts about Sikhs globally.
- Susan Tordella talks to students about bullying. Fowl Behavior by Susan Tordella – Author, parenting consultant, Unitarian Universalist guest preacher, and former victim of bullying, Susan Tordella created the program Fowl Behavior after observing the violence her chicken Mooey suffered at the hands of her flock as a result of being at the bottom of the pecking order during a time of duress. Mooey went on to become a bully herself by retaliating against younger chicks violently. Tordella viewed Mooey’s experience and her violent reaction to younger chicks as a teachable moment for children and educators. She taken the story to faith communities (in sermons with Mooey present!) and to schools across Massachusetts. It’s purpose is to portray the severity of the trauma caused by bullying and to close the empathy gap that often leads to the lack of support for victims of bullying. She also offers free visits to her farm for youth groups of various faith communities.
- Interfaith LGBT Toolkit from the Michigan Unitarain Universalist Social Justice Network) – According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), six in 10 LGBT students (63.5%) nationally reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. This interfaith toolkit highlights the different ways faith communities can address the bullying of LGBT people through advocacy and service. It lists various resources for strengthening advocacy of groups nationally and locally in Michigan. There are 23 faith communities listed in the toolkit, including Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Baptist groups, each with its own various support services for LGBT people.
This is the tip of the iceberg, a starting point in discovering the raft of interfaith anti-bullying resources that, thankfully, are emerging. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with other interfaith anti-bullying resources you find useful, so we can share them on the TIO Facebook Page.