Say “No” to Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.


Jesse paused before walking into the school building. He breathed in deeply and felt a twinge of pain from his ribs, which still ached from the punches he received the day before. Ninth grade wasn’t supposed to be so tough, he thought.

Every day for the last two months, Jesse’s classmates found new ways to torment him. First, it was name-calling and other verbal taunts. Then, it was a series of pranks. For the last week, there had been a series of physical incidents—the worst of which had been yesterday. Things were getting worse for Jesse. He didn’t know how long he could endure it—or how to make it stop. He seriously entertained the thought of simply not going into the school building at all.

Jesse is a victim of bullying. And he isn’t alone. Studies show that one in five American students ages 12-18 experiences bullying[1]. 95% of those students report being bullied at school. And, we should note that bullying is not a problem only in secular schools. Like many other social problems, bullying exists in Christian schools, as well.

And bullying is a problem that has wide-ranging consequences for its victims. Data shows that victims of bullying are known to experience higher incidences of mental health and behavior problems than non-victims. Such outcomes might include depression, anxiety, sleep problems, low self-esteem, and even thoughts of self-harm and suicide. And those outcomes can last beyond adolescence. Into adulthood.

Victims of bullying are also at risk for lower academic achievement, dropping out of school, and social disengagement. The consequences are real. Students who are bullied pay a high price for the selfish and sinful behavior of others. Some of the emotional wounds suffered as the result of bullying last a lifetime.

In elementary and middle schools, I was bullied. I can still clearly recall some of those experiences. My teachers, parents, and school counselor all gave me the same advice: either ignore the bullying, or fight back. The few times I did fight back only succeeded in inflaming the situation, reaffirming my own powerlessness. And for those who have ever been victims of bullying, it is understood that ignoring the problem—either by victims or adults who are aware of the situation—only gives it permission to continue.

While on the surface it might appear that power is at the heart of bullying behavior, the opposite is actually true: fear and insecurity are at its core. Fear and insecurity on the parts of those who become bullies lead them to find security and identity by controlling others. Through humiliating others, they feel strong. Through doing so publicly (which is how bullying most frequently happens), bullies attract other insecure people to themselves. This both affirms the strength of the bully and allows the bully’s followers to live vicariously through his or her displays of power. In reality, though, it’s all an act. Bullies can only mask their own weakness and insecurity through frightening others.

This is why it’s necessary for teachers, parents, youth leaders, and other caring adults to identify when a student they love is being bullied, and to intervene. Only real power can defuse a bully’s bluster and end a cycle that will wind up only hurting innocent victims. How can you tell if a student is being bullied? Here are some things to look for:

  • Students who suddenly seem withdrawn, depressed, or anxious
  • Students who suddenly avoid school, church, or neighborhood venues that might be locations where bullying occurs
  • Students who suddenly stop using social media or their phones altogether
  • Students who have unexplained bodily injuries (bruises, scratches, etc.), torn clothes, or missing property
  • Students whose eating habits suddenly change
  • Students who engage in self-harming behaviors (cutting, eating disorders)


Sometimes, though, there may not be visible signs of bullying. Parents can be proactive in four ways to detect and stop bullying:

  1. Pray for your student, that the Lord would protect him or her from those who would wish to cause harm.
  2. Talk regularly with your student, asking diagnostic questions that might lead to bullying or other hidden problems being exposed. Ask about interactions with friends, about interactions with other peers, about how your student feels about him/herself. Ask him or her what’s currently making them happy and what’s making them sad or fearful.
  3. Watch your student and note how he or she interacts with peers. Can you see any visible or sudden changes? Does she suddenly seem more passive and shut down when with friends? Does he suddenly make excuses not to spend time with others?
  4. Monitor your student’s phone, social media, and app usage. About 37% of all bullying victims have been cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can take several forms: mean and hurtful comments about the victim, rumors about the victim, or threats of violence. Cyberbullying can be either direct (via text or instant messaging) or public (via social media). Cyberbullying is far from harmless, and must be stopped as soon as it is discovered.


What can you do as a parent or other responsible adult if you discover that your student is the victim of bullying?

  1. Pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment to deal with the situation.
  2. Talk with your student and affirm that you will make and keep them safe.
  3. Ask your student to share details with you about the bullying (Who? When? Where? What have they done? How long has it been going on? Who else knows?)
  4. If there has been violence or threats of violence, call the police.
  5. Elevate the situation immediately to other adults who can help shut down the bullying and hold the perpetrators accountable. This may include teachers, school counselors, and administrators if the situation occurs at school; youth leaders or pastors if the situation occurs at church; coaches if it occurs in a sports league. If appropriate, notify the bully’s parents or guardians and hold them responsible to intervene. Adults who know about bullying are responsible to stop the bullying.
  6. Continue talking with your student to determine how they are dealing with the situation and people involved. Determine where they might need additional assistance and interventions.
  7. Leverage the resources you have at your disposal. School counselors can connect your student with other resources, inside and outside of the school. Church leaders, particularly youth leaders, can provide spiritual care, encouragement, and a path toward healing. Counselors, social workers, and other therapists can provide emotional support and identify ways to create a climate of safety in which the student can begin to thrive.


Here are links to some other free resources you might find helpful:


Bullying in our schools and communities is never acceptable, it’s never normal, and it’s never harmless. Bullying winds up hurting us all. Let’s take steps to rein it in, and help students who have become victims to recover and thrive!


[1] Cited under “Bullying Statistics” heading of the webpage stopbullying.gov/resources/facts, last accessed 10/20/2020. Data was gleaned from studies by the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Go Therefore and Make Disciples…of Children

One of the more well-known passages of Scripture is what is frequently referred to as the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20a, Jesus tells his disciples:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

What a marvelous invitation from our Lord! In saying that we should make disciples, he not only gives his people a mission to fulfill, but he also implicitly says that there is a large population of people “out there,” among and around us, who will listen to the good news about Jesus and begin to believe in him as Savior and Lord.

Yet, Christians frequently fall short in fulfilling this mission. We tend to focus on the “baptizing” aspect (that is, seeing people profess faith in Christ)—but not so much on the “teaching” aspect (what difference being a Christian makes in everyday life). Both aspects are necessary for new disciples to grow in faith.

The process of discipleship is what Christian schools are all about. Much more than focusing solely on transferring the information and life skills of academics, Christian schools help students answer the question: What difference does being a Christian make for me as I interact with the world?

Teachers, staff, and administrators actively love and get to know their students. In many cases, they also get to know and love their students’ families. School staff and leaders help students work through conflict, deal with disappointment, respond to peer pressure, and exercise self-control. They help students develop biblical worldviews about things like sex, money, entertainment, their own bodies, and their relationship to the world. All this is what Jesus commanded when he said discipleship was “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Students in Christian schools learn that being a Christian is so much more than following a code of conduct. Being a Christian is having a relationship with the living God of the universe, who loves them and gave his only Son on the cross, so that they might become his true sons and daughters.

2020 has been a hard year in many respects, but trusting in the fact that Jesus is firmly in control of all of the circumstances that we’ve experienced, Jubilee network school staff and leaders continue working diligently to help their students understand that God really is in control of the world and their own lives…and that he’s truly working all things together for their good (Romans 8:28). That’s discipleship.

Please pray for our network of schools, and for each of the teachers and administrators who will begin afresh with their ministry of education and discipleship in just a few weeks. Pray that the Lord would make many disciples in the year to come…and that he would strengthen and deepen the faith of them all.

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.

How to Pray for Our Students and Schools in August

As we begin August and anticipate the start of the fall school term, many of our students, their families, and our school leaders and teachers are anxious.

This fall term will be unlike any seen in our lifetimes. COVID-19 hijacked the school calendar, and most schools will at least start instruction either exclusively or partially as they ended school in June—online. Extracurricular activities will be non-existent. Many of our schools are uncertain how they will fare financially. Many of our parents are either unemployed or have had their hours or pay reduced. And, each of our students is faced with uncertainty, challenges, and temptation to fear the future.

God tells us in Scripture that he is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He encourages us to come to him with the things that trouble us, and he promises to listen, and to respond.

Please join us here at Jubilee in praying for out students and schools this month, by praying as follows—and however the Lord leads.  

 Pray for our students’…

  • Physical safety, that they would not be injured in violence in their neighborhoods, and that they would not contract or transmit COVID-19
  • Emotional health, as many see their neighborhoods scarred by violence, looting, closed businesses, and graffiti
  • Self-image, as many black and brown students live in the self-awareness of racial inequality
  • Provision, as many families are still unemployed or underemployed, and may be facing eviction or food insecurity
  • Recreation, as city pools and playgrounds remain closed
  • Spiritual health, that they will remember they are loved by Jesus, even when their circumstances are difficult
  • Learning, that the summer slide that so frequently impacts students would not be made worse this year by the shortened school year
  • Relationships to our schools, that all of our students would re-enroll for the fall even if parents are unable to pay any tuition
  • Protection during the summer from abusive behaviors around them. Incidents of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of minors all increase during times of stress and anxiety.

Pray for our schools…

  • That the Lord would provide for their financial needs this year, and that they wouldn’t have to furlough any teachers or staff
  • That the Lord would make it clear to our schools’ leaders exactly how and when to resume classes
  • That the Lord would grant teachers with wisdom, patience, creativity, and joy as they begin the fall term using online platforms to interact their students
  • That school leaders would receive godly wisdom and intuition to know how to budget and otherwise plan for the rest of this year
  • That our schools’ leaders and teachers would remain firmly rooted and grounded in the Lord, and resist the temptation to fear or become discouraged

Thank you!

Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.

Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.