First of all, if you are a pastor, a youth pastor or any other church leader or church staff person, I hope you saw the recent ABC Family Channel film Cyberbully. If not, please read my blog review post about the film over on my Media Review site: http://susanelizabeth31-themediareview.blogspot.com/2011/07/cyberbully-brings-to-light-relevant.html.
I ask some poignant questions.
What can be done to help the victims of cyberbullying?
What will it take for laws to be passed in every state (Alabama is one of 16 states that do not have laws regarding cyberbullying)? Another victim to become a suicide statistic?
What can be done both with victims and with the bullies to educate them on the importance of not engaging in such activity?
How far do the protections of the First Amendment really go when it comes to cyberbullying?
In summary of both the film and my review, the film portrayed a high school student by the name of Taylor who comes from a broken family and ends up nearly taking her own life because of some hurtful actions by her friends on a social network site similar to Facebook because the comments started to extend off the Internet into her life at school and affecting her social life. The fact that she comes from a broken family and that her father has little to no presence in her life is a factor to consider as to why the situation with the comments and posts pushes her over the edge of almost becoming another statistic.
What can churches do to help young adults and teenagers (those 35 and under) when it comes to cyberbullying or any other kind of bullying?
In my own personal opinion, I think one thing that churches can do is help the victims by offering support groups. Another way is to contact law makers and get them to push for passing laws. Instead of being standoffish and judgmental, churches should actively seek to help victims of any crimes and violent acts or words to not remain victims. Whether victims of abuse or bullying or even just a broken family, the victims often stay in a victim mentality because they feel judged or cast out by their churches. Many churches stigmatize the victims causing them to feel like outcasts and criminals when really what the church should be doing is offering a safe haven for the victim to learn how to not remain victims.
But whether abuse or bullying, what can churches do to help?