Can’t “Bear” the Meanies [Choosing Joy]
The other day I happened to be walking up the back stairwell of the school where I work and hovering on the landing was a new sixth grader. I greeted her warmly and continued on past but she caught me and said, “Two 8th graders yelled at me.”
“They did? Why would they do that?”
“I don’t know. I was just walking by to sign up for Friday activities and they yelled at me to get to class.”
She was obviously quite shaken and nervous about returning back by the room that the offending students had come from. I offered to walk with her back to her own class, and with a lightness in my voice, I explained to her that 8th graders can often be beasts and to let their teasing slide off her back. But, my own heart was a little bruised. I like to think of my school as being a safe place where people treat each other with respect and kindness. So after delivering the victim, I went back to the 8th grade classroom to confront “the beasts.”
Of all things for the class to be doing when I walked in, they were discussing the signs of bullying and getting ready to sign a no bullying pledge! I pulled the teacher aside and asked about any students that might have been in the hallway in the last few minutes, and he was able to point out to me two kids who fit the victim’s description. I confronted them about the situation and they did not deny harassing the 6th grader, but claimed that it was all in good fun and joking. Apparently, to these two, making others feel uncomfortable is “funny.”
As I began to explain to them how insensitive it was of them to treat a new 6th grader that way, our suddenly brave little gal popped into the room! Her teacher had sent her back to confront her villains. I took the opportunity to introduce them all properly and to request an apology from the 8th graders. And in the end, it seemed that everyone parted amicably. But the whole situation still leaves me unsatisfied wondering why people insist on teasing and putting down one another.
Even in the Bible there are instances of teasing and the negative consequences. See 2 Kings 2:23-25. In this story, Elisha is being teased by a big group of boys. Like my perpetrators, the boys yelled at Elisha, “Get out of here, baldy!” But unlike my nervous 6th grader, Elisha used the power of God to call down a curse upon his harassers. A bear appeared and mauled forty-two of them! Yikes! Let that be a lesson to all the meanies out there! Be careful who you pick on!