|Image from "Help Prevent Bullying"|
"I want this to be a non-religious post. I am a medical provider in Clark County and have had many adult and child patients that have complained about bullying related to their religious differences from the majority in the Yacolt, Amboy area. Generally the story includes bullying related to Apostolic Christians (Bun Heads, Bunners, etc) creating an unbearable environment in school for children that are not of the same religion. Since the stories are so frequent, and span time, it seems like an epidemic. It certainly does not show any qualities of Christ. I've had patients move school districts and finish high school at Clark College because the problem is so bad. I actually have sympathy for the bullies because their families can be so large, that these children are raised by their siblings and not their parents. The result of this isn't always good, acting out is inevitable and Christ-like qualities of love, patience, and kindness are not natural when biologically competing for nurturing to an unavailable parent."
Dear Medical Provider in Clark County:
The youth bullying issue has been discussed on this blog many times, and it's a concern in just about every community in which a single Laestadian group becomes the population majority.
One of the issues, I think, is that when a single Laestadian group becomes more visible, you begin to see its inner workings and the behavior patterns. I grew up as sort of an insider-outsider of a Laestadian environment, and the inner-group bullying and social relational aggression I saw rivaled any high school anywhere. You see this in strict sects such as the Amish. Believe me, being an insider in this group and among the bullied is no picnic. I've seen it with my own eyes of Laestadian children bullied and ostracized by their own group members and as teens they try to drift away, only to be shunned by their families for leaving their religion. It takes a lot of rebuilding to overcome this. I can't imagine what this kind of bullying might manifest itself when the Apostolics become the majority. Most of the time Apostolic kids are in the minority and fill the position in their schools of banding together in a tight pack and not making waves, flying below the radar and waiting out graduation when they tend to get married within a few months to a couple of years.
As an outsider, it must be very difficult to witness. It is even harder to do anything about it. Talking to the fathers of the bullies might be a first step, but many times, this community would see the correction as proof that their community is being persecuted. Or that their child is righteous and above the others as being part of this spiritual elite.
I also suspect that any teacher or administrator who takes on the bullying issues might find themselves in hot water with the local school board, as often the school boards are comprised of the group in majority areas.
What do you think could be some first next steps?"