Have you ever been bullied? I distinctly remember Donnie W. from 6th grade in Central Indiana! He was so verbally abusive that I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t tell anyone about it. My 6th grade heart just suffered and waited it out. Is waiting and suffering the only recourse for those being bullied? My colleague, Val, writing for the January 12, 2015 issue of My Central New Jersey, gives us a heart-warming story about abuse overcome and a challenge to go deeper in our desire to bring healing to this issue. Here’s Val:
When Caitlin Prater-Haacke went to her high school locker last September, she had a rude awakening.
Someone had broken into it, stolen her iPad, and written on her Facebook page encouraging her to commit suicide. While many teenagers might have been devastated, the 11th-grader had an unexpected response. Instead of feeling victimized, she “turned the other cheek,” and posted 800 positive and inspiring Post-Its around her school. She covered every school locker (including the unknown bully’s) with messages like “You’re beautiful,” “Love yourself,” and “You’re awesome.”
Caitlin’s act of courage and forgiveness inspired many classmates and teachers. In addition, her town started a new anti-bullying campaign called, “Positive Post-it Day.”
While Caitlin’s response may seem simple, it was profoundly effective in an era when dealing with bullies and feeling victimized is serious business and is one of the major reasons for teen depression and suicide. Many schools are addressing this problem through anti-bullying campaigns — to not only discourage bullying, but perhaps to encourage those to speak out if they, or someone they know, is being bullied. Unfortunately, as helpful as these programs try to be, I wonder if they are addressing the underlying problem, which I’ve learned is actually about allowing one’s self to feel victimized? Perhaps it’s time to go deeper and see if a spiritual approach can help.