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Turning Bullies into Friends

There is a sweet animation on the Mormon Channel about a young boy’s experience with a bully at school. 

He speaks of another kid being mean and pushy, but one day he is chosen as the line leader of the class and was asked to choose a second person to help.  This wise child chose the bully, a child who was never asked to do anything of the kind. From that moment, the bully started to change just a little. He eventually invited the bully to play soccer, who was soon included with the other kids, reaching out as a friend. I love that story. I cry every time! 

I believe we all go through this experience at some point in our lives. It is definitely an unpleasant one ranging in consequences from mild to severe. Sometimes those scars don’t heal for many years.

Fix the problem

If we want to fix the problem, we need to look at the bully. What is this person experiencing or lacking? Can we see something in them that they are missing which causes them to act out? There was one boy in my schools as I was growing up that seemed to have an eye on me all the time. Whenever he could find a chance, he would shout something cruel at me in front of everyone. Now that I am older, I can see that he had a miserable childhood. He didn’t have an ideal home or family situation and the only way he felt empowered was by putting down someone else, but that can be hard to see in younger years.

What can we do to turn a bully into a friend? We can reach out in simple ways. We can write a little note on a sticky pad that says something like, “You have a great smile!” or “I am so happy to see you today.” Identify something good about that person. Chances are, they don’t hear much good elsewhere. If they have a desk, locker or work area, then you can drop off a quick note and something small like a pack of gum. Recruit others to help you do this as well. Little surprises can go a long way.

Do they need a friend? Invite them to play a game or meet for ice cream with another friend or two. There are hundreds of ways to reach out. Saying hello and smiling at them may start off rocky, but it will help.

Make a difference

Praying for the Holy Ghost to help you identify ways that you can reach out is a valuable way to make a difference. With the emphasis on listening to the Spirit in our new ministering programs, we can learn to do this under any circumstance. I love that Heavenly Father is on our side if we desire to be a light and make a difference, He will help us! He wants His children to feel loved and valued.

In general conference of 1995, Sister Janette Hales Beckham spoke about the power of goodness. She said, “My plea for each of us is to recognize that God has given each of us power—the power to act, to choose, to serve, to love, and to accomplish much good. Perhaps it is time to take control of ourselves. Our prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, has said, “Be faithful … do good.” 1

Can we not choose to be a power for good? Can we not emulate the Savior in doing acts of kindness for those whose hands hang down? Can we not assist in turning the hearts of those who are hurting and might be hurting others because of it? Of course, we can! With a little effort on our parts, we might have a good friend just waiting for us to find them.

  1. “The Power of Goodness,” Sister Janette Hales Beckham, General Conference, October 1995

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