Yet another tragic school incident, this one involving two 11-year-old boys. Yet another case of bullying gone uncurbed. Yet another example of amazing forgiveness.
An 11-year-old boy at Pacific Christian School in Auckland (on the north island of New Zealand), was stabbed in the right temple by an 11-year-old classmate wielding a pair of school scissors on Tuesday (June 24, 2014). The injured boy was taken to Starship Children’s Hospital, where he remains in critical condition in a coma. Doctors are unable to determine if he will ever fully recover.
The boy’s assailant, an 11-year-old classmate, was taken into custody and turned over to Child, Youth and Family care. According to The New Zealand Herald, “the stabbing shocked the country given the ages of those involved.”
The injured boy’s uncle said his nephew’s parents have already forgiven the other boy. “We don’t hold grudges, we remember the Lord’s Prayer. That’s how they feel.”
In the wake of the stabbing, which happened just moments after the teacher left the room, Pacific Christian School has been accused of “knowing about classroom bullying but failing to act,” the Herald reported.
“That’s not at all unusual,” says Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. “In most cases, teachers don’t know how to handle students that bully and administrators are unable to provide clear guidance except for disciplinary procedures.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Enright developed The Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program: Reducing the Fury Within Those Who Bully based on his more than 20 years of scientific forgiveness research and his Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides that have been tested and in full use for more than a dozen years by schools in places like Belfast, Northern Ireland, and more recently in Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa), and Israel-Palestine.
“It is our contention that bullying starts from within, as anger, and comes out as displaced anger onto the victim,” Dr. Enright said. “Forgiveness targets this anger and then reduces it, thus reducing or eliminating the displaced anger which comes out as bullying.”
Unless we eliminate the anger in the hearts of those who bully,” Dr. Enright believes, “we will not eliminate bullying.”
International Forgiveness Institute
Picture a wide-eyed, innocent 6-year-old child. She is full of life and expectation for her future. When age 21, she married an abusive man who was cruel to her. They had 2 children together before he abandoned the family. She never had forgiveness education. Her anger spilled over to her children who grew up unhappy and angry. Now imagine that this 6-year-old child had forgiveness education from age 6 through age 18. When she encountered her cruel husband, she immediately began to forgive him. He was still cruel and still abandoned the family. Yet, she stood firm in her forgiveness, reduced her anger, and gave a legacy of love rather than anger to her growing children. We **need** forgiveness education.
In today’s news, we read that Israel and Hamas are on the brink of all-out-war. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, today one group is verbally threatening violence because a parade commission banned them from a particular parade route. Anger. Toxic anger. It is at the heart of war. Yes, there are land disputes and ethnic disputes adding to the war and threat of violence, but disputes can be handled without violence…..if the hearts are without toxic anger. Our science shows this: forgiveness education reduces toxic anger. We need forgiveness education…..now….so that future generations can be protected from angry hearts in those who hold power. Maybe they will use their power more wisely when schooled in forgiveness.
We often receive emails here at the International Forgiveness Institute asking what resources we have available to help teachers initiate a Forgiveness Education Program in their school. Here is how we respond:
Starting a forgiveness education program either in your classroom or throughout your school is relatively simple since we provide all the materials. We have Curriculum Guides available for grades Pre-K through 12th Grade. The curriculum guides are comprehensive (most over 100 pages) making them easy for classroom teachers to use.
The guides are available in two formats–the standard version for public schools and the Christian version that includes supplemental information tying the lessons into Christian principles and values. Here is a preview of an actual curriculum guide for you to review–the introduction and first three lessons of the 1st Grade Curriculum Guide (Standard Version) and the 1st Grade Curriculum Guide (Christian Version).
The guides focus on Dr. Seuss books in the early grades and on other age-appropriate books, DVDs and websites for older students. Through stories, children learn about the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity.
In the Grade One Curriculum Guide, for example, Dr. Seuss’ book “Horton Hears a Who” is the centerpiece of all of the materials. Horton was chosen because of his oft repeated wisdom: “A person is a person no matter how small.” This idea captures well the concept of inherent worth.
For each grade level the curriculum gets progressively more challenging so that by the twelfth grade the students are encouraged, if they so choose, to bring the principles of forgiveness to their community outside of school. See Curriculum Guides Basic Description for details.
Each grade level has a number of children’s books and related materials suggested for use with the teacher guide. You may obtain the books yourself, or we have available, and will provide to you at no cost, two-page to six-page book summaries with each guide you purchase.
Finally, we highly recommend a two-hour teacher training program we have developed for all instructors who will be providing forgiveness education. We can provide that training on site, through Skype, or through audio CD. Teachers can listen to the CD as a group (preferred method) or can access it whenever they wish. Contact us for details if you prefer an on-site or Skype training session: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can order complete sets of the curriculum guides (book summaries included) as well as the Instructional CD in our website Store. Deciding to teach forgiveness education to your students is a low-cost but smart investment that pays off as the students practice forgiveness skills throughout their lifetime.
Today I am in the Middle East, in an open-air restaurant, reflecting on the human condition.
The personal water crafts are dancing on the Mediterranean Sea, which looks today like it is a liquid diamond in the sun. Boys are showing their bravado by jumping off of a 50 foot wall into this liquid jewel, a playground for those with imagination and a willingness to take some risks.
All of those at play seem oblivious to the fact that they are in a playground about 20 miles from another country which has sworn retribution.
Now to a nursery where innocent babies are sleeping peacefully as if they are safe. They are in an upper room in a school, in a daycare center. Beneath them are the older children whose classrooms quite literally are bomb shelters with thick metal casings for the windows and heavy concrete to keep the mayhem at bay.
The contrast between the playfulness and peace existing alongside the threats and the bomb shelters is jarring. How can human beings be willing to blow apart those on the water crafts or to tear the limbs off of the sleeping innocents, all in the name of something that is far less important that those at play and rest?
How have human priorities gotten so twisted that the latest “ism” takes precedence over persons? Can we train the minds and hearts of the young to see that limbs are fragile, that the human soul can be wounded in such a way that those who are wounded now go on missions to destroy….even on days in which the Mediterranean Sea dances with delight and babies sleep though an illusion of peace? We need forgiveness education…..now.