In 2013, the North Georgia Annual Conference passed a resolution titled “Working Together to End Bullying.” This resolution called “upon the North Georgia Conference Leadership Team to collect and provide internet and speaking resources to be used by conference children and youth ministries and by churches for anti-bullying training of staff, clergy and volunteers,” and urged “our churches, committees, campus ministries and camping retreat ministries to create safe space for each and every child of God.”
Members of the North Georgia Conference Leadership Team working on this task reviewed current resources to address bullying. We recommend adapting and using resources from The Bully Project . The Bully Project began with the making of a feature-length documentary BULLY in 2011, and has grown into a movement of education in schools and communities with youth and adults. “Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.” As the website states, the film “documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy ‘kids will be kids’ clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.”
The Bully Project offers a wealth of free, downloadable resources to use alongside screenings of the film, which comes in a 47 minute, edited version for younger audiences, and a 90 minute PG-13 version for adults and older youth viewers. Individuals and organizations can order the full DVD and education kit for a nominal fee, which gives them full license to show the films publically.
While the materials for The Bully Project are framed for school contexts, most of the materials work just as easily for churches. However, we have adapted several of the handouts from the viewing guide specifically for UMC congregations, drawing on our Methodist heritage and commitments.
We encourage pastors, youth workers, and parents to screen this film, and consider hosting a public screening in their congregations, with youth. In this way, we can join a growing movement already underway to reach as many people as possible to put an end to bullying of all kinds. In this way, we can fulfill the commitment to “surround” each child baptized into our church “with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others.” (Baptismal Covenant). In this way, we can follow Jesus Christ’s call to be peacemakers (Mt 5:9) and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk 12:31).
Jennifer Roberts is a liaison with The Bully Project in our conference, and available to answer questions or to consult with congregations on adapting the resources of this movement for church use. You can reach her at: