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When I was a child and even in my teens, I was bullied in school. The bullies would ask me if I trusted them.  Out of fear I usually said yes, but then the bullies would ask me to prove it. Nobody is entitled to be trusted, and nobody who is being bullied is obligated to trust bullies.   

Those bullies abused my trust so much I still struggle with anger and anxiety because of it.  Back when I watched a series on TV titled Collar of Duty, in one episode a young woman who had been bullied in school had developed PTSD and needed an emotional support dog. I could really relate to that.

The emotional scars on the victims of bullying are real and severe, and some consider suicide, so parents of kids who are bullied would do well to watch out and see if they can get counseling for their children.  They should also teach their kids that it’s okay not to trust bullies and say so. 

The church is an important space for children and teens. As such, It is important that church leaders and volunteers receive training by a professional on bullying and mental health so that they are aware of symptoms to look out for and how to respond. Churches need to be places of safety that reject harmful behavior and it is critical that they know how to respond well. It is critical that when a young person is vulnerable and  brings forward a concern or allegation that it is taken seriously so that they can trust the response from adults. 

Said bullies would probably be stunned to receive such an answer because they assume that trust is the default mode.  But actually, you have to earn trust, and especially if you have abused it then you will need to work even harder to regain it.  It is really important to teach kids that they don’t owe anyone trust if they feel they have been taken advantage of. It is important that church is a safe place for kids to express their boundaries and speak up if they are not being treated kindly.


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