Today is Valentine’s Day. It is important for us to think about relationships such as boyfriends, girlfriends, and just plain old friends. There is also a whole type of bullying that deals with relationships.
“Relational bullying has to do with the manipulation of a targeted child’s social relationships or damaging a student’s reputation or status in the peer group.”
Ben loved football, he was a member of his high school football team. Although, he didn’t feel like he ever fit in because the guys on his team had their own clusters that they formed together which he was mostly excluded from. He tried to be nice and do nice things for others, but a lot of times the his teammates called him “weird” or “queer” when he showed kindness or tried encouraging them. The socially closed dimensions made Ben feel very lonely and isolated even though he was playing with a group of people he went to school with. This is an example of relational exclusion even though it might not have been the purpose of the people who were doing the excluding.
Is there relational bullying going on in your youth ministry? Cliques, and clusters pose a real threat to unity. Help students see the importance of unity to their relationship with God and participation of service in the local community that your church is in. Youth group should be a place of relational security and vulnerability for students to be able to share what God is doing in their lives with leaders, and even (when appropriate) with other students their age.
Macklem, Gayle L.”Bullying and Teasing: Social Power in Children’s Groups.” Plenum Publishers. New York. 2003.