The bullying does not only take place on school grounds and cannot always be detected by vigilant educators. With the advent of the internet and cell phones this problem has become more of an issue than ever before. Students can now harass their peers anonymously, while also widely disseminating rumors at the click of a computer mouse. The result of these juvenile actions can have both immediate and long-term crippling affects on those who are targeted.
Young people in our Orthodox Jewish school system, synagogues and youth programs may also fall prey to bullying. Although these students are being taught Mitzvot bein adam l’chaveiro, and the principles of “loving ones neighbor like thyself,” this problem is still present in our schools and communal settings. The Orthodox Union asserts that no one should ever feel unsafe because of the way that they look, speak, dress, feel or act. The Torah teaches that all people were created in the image of G-d and therefore deserve to be treated as such. There is no place for bullying in G-d’s world.
The act of bullying is the ultimate sign of cowardice (or the sign of other deep-rooted behavioral problems) and must be discouraged by all who witness it taking place. The Orthodox Union resolves that the following steps be taken by our communities to end bullying.
• NCSY will take all appropriate steps to prevent bullying of participants in NCSY and JSU programs
• Orthodox Union Department of Community Services will work more aggressively to address bullying in their publications and conferences.
• Parents should emphasize and exemplify the importance of having caring and non-abusive relationships.
• Parents, educators, Rabbis and community leaders should avoid any vocabulary that could be repeated by children as a taunt to another child.
• Children should be taught to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships in the Torah, so they too can embody healthy relationships with their peers.
• Rabbis and community leaders should lead youth programming and focus their sermons on the importance of “loving one’s neighbor like thyself,” so both bullied adults and children acknowledge that this issue is not unique to themselves.
• Rabbis, lay leaders and educators must continue to emphasize the importance of a drug-free, alcohol – free, abuse free environment, everywhere including in schools as well as in the home and the synagogue.
• Teachers and school administrators should begin anti-bullying campaigns in their schools if they are not done so already.