Bullying is epidemic in our culture. Along with academic excellence, Catholic schools are generally seen as a safe environment for children. Although we would like to say bullying isn’t a problem in our Catholic schools, we know that in today’s culture bullying happens in the school building, on the playground. It also happens traveling to or from school, in the student’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.
Catholic school teachers and administrators have to provide an environment which not only includes instruction in Catholic moral excellence, but helps our students recognize that the teachings of Christ should permeate everything Catholics do. We teach about saints to help students see how individuals are able to follow Christ and are Christ-like in their lives, but the saints are not here and now and hard for some students to relate to. However, teaching our students how to be saints makes being Christ-like real. Being a Christian means to be a follower of Christ; it is through our actions and speech that others learn who Christ is and the importance of his teachings. It is our mission to teach our students to be “The Hands and Voice of Christ” to act as Jesus would and to speak as Jesus would to all we encounter. We can and should bring the example of Christ into every action that is taken in the classroom, on the playground and in the student’s life.
Catholic school teachers should not only teach about faith, but also live it as “The Hands and Voice of Christ.” As primary examples of our faith, we must make our own faith more visible by being “The Hands and Voice of Christ.” Sarcasm and cynical comments made in the spur of the moment by an educator makes all that we teach negligible. To be a positive, Christian role model, Catholic school teachers have to teach the faith and live the faith.
When students receive a consistent, reinforced message that they are “The Hands and Voice of Christ,” then the school is an environment which not only offers academic excellence, but also a safe environment for everyone to live their Catholic faith.
For more information on how to prevent bullying in your school, click here.
In her 36 years in the Catholic school system, Marilou Abramshe taught elementary and middle school grades before becoming a principal. Now retired, she is currently a teacher in her parish’s religious education program.