Archive for May, 2013

The Dilemma of Cyberbullying: What Is the Solution?

A teenage girl received a series of texts allegedly from her boyfriend in which she is severely demeaned. Her reaction is to take her own life. The boyfriend never wrote the texts. His account was hacked for the purpose of cyberbullying.

Cyberbulling is a relatively new term to signify aggressive communication through the electronic media of cell phone texting, email, and social networking sites on the Internet. It is an insidious problem because it is too often anonymous, goes viral (spread to many others), and the victim feels powerless. Those who engage in cyberbullying are less easily identified than those who punch someone in the face.

So, what can we do about all of this? Of course, we can warn our children as StopCyberbullying does (the first cyberbullying prevention program in North America). We can call for more vigilance so that those who engage in this behavior are more easily identified, as is suggested in the film Submit the Documentary.

Justice is a vital part of cleaning up this problem. Yet, this is insufficient. The seeking of justice (punishment, arrest, or other form of fairness) is a temporary protection, but it is not a solution. We need to get to the heart of the matter which is the heart of those who engage in such destructive behavior.

Those who cyberbully have enraged hearts. They are displacing their anger onto others. They are wounded. If we only see their behavior, then we are missing the punchline that they are wounded inside. We can constrain behavior through justice and we can cure wounded hearts through forgiveness.

In previously posted blogs, we already have discussed the necessity of our forgiveness education anti-bullying guide for teachers, school counselors, psychologists, and social workers being in as many schools as possible. The uniqueness of this guide is that it deliberately targets the anger in the heart of those who bully. The principle behind the guide is this: Emotionally-wounded people wound others. We have a way to help bind up these emotional wounds through forgiveness education. We help those who wound others to heal from the wounds inflicted previously on them, thus reducing their motivation to wound others. The information for this guide is available in the IFI Education Store.

Yet, what do we do in the case of cyberbullying? We must recall that those who do this are not easily identified. Oh, yes they are. Although we do not catch them in the act of punching someone in the face, we can identify them because the overly-angry tend to wear that attitude on their face, in their words, in the trouble they find in school….over and over. Of course, not all who are excessively angry engage in cyberbullying. Yet, those who cyberbully likely come from this group of the excessively angry. We have to cast our intervention-net widely in this age of cyber-anonymity.

School counselors, psychologists, and social workers please take note: When you have in front of you a student who is entrenched in rebellion, in verbal aggression, in indifference to school itself, please presume that this person of inherent worth has a wounded heart. Consider presenting the contents of our anti-bullying curriculum to him or her individually or in a group for those showing such symptoms. You are indirectly covering cyberbullying if you do this. The more you can target the angry students, the more you may be either preventing or remediating cyberbullying behavior.

The stakes are way too high to ignore this advice. Your “yes” to mending the wounded hearts of students in your school through helping them to forgive could, quite literally, save lives.


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Mother Forgives Her Daughter’s Abductor

The Telegraph, London, England – Madeleine McCann was abducted from her bed while her family was visiting Portugal six years ago this month. She was three years old at the time and has not been seen since. Her mother, Kate, says she spent years despising the person who took her daughter but that she no longer has to understand the motive behind the abduction to offer forgiveness.

“I think I could probably forgive Madeleine’s abductor whatever the circumstances” Mrs. McCann said in a recent interview. “I don’t know whether it’s simply because I’m stronger or because there’s no benefit in not forgiving someone. I can’t change anything and I don’t want to be eaten up by hatred and bitterness.”

She added, “And maybe there is an element of pity – what kind of person could do something like this? Of course, forgiveness will always be easier if there is remorse.”

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Bomb Victim Practices Forgiveness to Heal from Tragedy

Democracy Now, New York, NY – Father Michael Lapsley, a former South African anti-apartheid activist, has turned his personal tragedy into a clarion call for peace and forgiveness.

In 1990, three months after the release of Nelson Mandela (who served 27 years in jail), the ruling de Klerk government sent Father Lapsley a parcel containing two religious magazines. Inside one of them was a highly sophisticated bomb. When Lapsley opened the magazine, the explosion blew off both of his hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely.

Father Lapsley was not silenced by his injuries. He went on to work at the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, South Africa, which assisted the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is now director of the Institute for Healing of Memories.

“The journey of healing is to move from being a victim to a survivor to a victor, to take back agency,” Father Lapsley says. “I realized that if I was filled with hatred and bitterness and desire for revenge, they would have failed to kill the body, but they would have killed the soul.”

Father Lapsley is currently in the United States and was recently interviewed by Democracy Now about his new book, Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer. The book recently received the 2013 Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu prize for the best Christian and theological book by a South African writer. Watch the video interview or read the full transcript: “Apartheid Regime Bomb Victim Father Michael Lapsley on Using Forgiveness to Heal From Tragedy.”

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Seeing the Tapestry for the Threads: Who We Really Are as Persons

We just received this beautifully-stated image from someone recovering from abuse through practicing forgiveness:

“I have always viewed my recovery work like studying a tapestry. In the beginning, I stood up close, with all of my attention on the threads of abuse, which prevented me from seeing the full beauty of the tapestry. I thought with an up close view, I would be able to unravel the pain that it caused me. With each step in recovery, I am able to step back from the threads of abuse, and see a grander view of the tapestry that is my life. Each time I make progress, I allow the abuse to fade into the background of the tapestry. The abuse is becoming a fiber in the background, which is how everyone, but me, has viewed my life.”

This person is more than each strand of abuse suffered. There is a beautiful tapestry of this life to be seen and appreciated.

Thank you for the email. Thank you for the courage to heal through forgiveness.


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Are You Looking for Peace?

Are you looking for peace? First look within. How peaceful are you inside?

Are you looking for peace? Do not insist that peace will come only if the other is peaceful toward you. You ultimately do not have control over the other.

Are you looking for peace? Please do not presume that it will never come just because it is not here today.

Are you looking for peace? Are you willing to suffer first for it by bearing the pain that has come your way? The more you run from the pain, the faster it runs to keep up with you.

Are you looking for peace? Look first to serve the one who has hurt you. Shine the light on the other, not on yourself. Be merciful toward him even when the world tells you to retaliate.

Are you looking for peace? First abandon the quest for peace within as your primary goal. Be a servant to others first in the hope that their peace increases….and then the inner peace is likely to come when you least expect it.

The more you give mercy to others, the more peace you will find within and perhaps even between and among you.


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