Abuse of power is a significant issue in our culture. That’s why Safe Church works to educate our CRCNA community to understand the insidious nature of abuse of power, recognize it and work to eliminate it. We’ve created an on-line resource for adults, called It’s all About Power, which explores various sources of relational power and how we can be mindful of power, supporting each other as we walk through life together.
We need to have conversations about abuse of power not only with our friends and colleagues, but also in our homes, schools and Sunday school rooms with our children. As Sharon Lynn Kagan of Columbia University notes, bullying can begin as early as preschool and intensify during transitional stages, such as starting school in first grade or going into middle school.* Bullying is an abuse of power.
In response to growing awareness on the issue of bullying, one of our partner ministries, Kids Corner, a program of ReFrame Media, developed an activity book designed to help kids 8 to 10 years recognize the role power, real or perceived, plays in bullying. Kids Corner’s mission is to share the gospel message with kids and their families in a way that both entertains and promotes biblical literacy. Kids can listen to weekly podcasts that follow the adventures of a young lizard named Liz in the town of Terrene. Through all their hijinks and fun, Liz and his reptilian pals walk kids through on how to deal with challenges in life in a godly way. One of these is bullying.
In Power Tools: Take a Stand Against Bullying, kids listen as Liz and his friends deal with four different aspects of bullying and the role of power—being bullied, watching someone else be bullied, perhaps bullying someone yourself, and finally, working together to stop bullying. A situation that occurs in one of Liz’s stories sets up the lesson. Each includes a Bible memory verse, sections on “How God Created It To Be;” “How It Is;” and “How It Could Be.” That last section helps kids know what is true about bullying from God’s word and describes the tangible things we can do in bullying situations to take power away from a bully. Each lesson offers a challenge activity to drive home the learning.
The following is a breakdown of the lessons and the links to the episodes that are the jumping off point for each discussion.
- Power Tool #1: God and Me - What do I do if I’m being bullied?
- Power Tool #2: Friends Help Out - How can I help someone who is being bullied?
- Power Tool #3: Have I Bullied Someone? - What do I do if I have bullied someone?
- Power Tool #4: Everyone’s Connected - How can I include others in community?
Authors Heather Altena and Ron VandenBurg based the activity book on restorative practices, a social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. At Safe Church, we really appreciate restorative practices as a way to value each person, hear each voice, and engage respectfully with one another. We encourage you to bring kids into the conversation about abuse of power. Power Tools was designed with this idea in mind: to give kids the opportunity to discuss what happened in each scenario, and why and how they could move forward, together with trusted adults, to make things right.
Power Tools would be a great series to build into your Sunday school curriculum, Gems, and Cadets gatherings, or in the comfort of your home with your kids!
Click here to subscribe to Kids Corner and stay up to date on all their awesome episodes!
For more resources on “leading with” as a way of creating safe sharing spaces, please review this resource: Safe Church Teams: Leading With.
*Teasing and Bullying: No Laughing Matter, by Diana Townsend-Butterworth, Scholastic Parents