Anti-Bullying Policies

Society’s Evolving Protections of Children from Bullying, Harassment, Humiliation, and Degrading Treatment

Verbal and Associational Bullying

Verbal or social bullying is repeated, persistent, or pervasive aggressive behavior — such as shunning, public humiliation, teasing, taunting, name-calling, and threats — toward victims by persons who, because of their physical strength or status, have a power imbalance over the victim. See

Good News Club’s curriculum reflects a refined and more subtle form of bullying known as “traumatic bonding,” a classic and highly effective form of psychological manipulation The curriculum shames children as being sinful from birth, having wicked deceitful hearts, being unworthy of love, and worthy of punishment, death, destruction, and Hell. The curriculum does so in a programmatic fashion. But the curriculum couples these corrosive concepts with contradictory affirmations and declarations of God’s unfailing love, conditioned — of course — on the child’s adoption of and faithfulness to Good News Club’s pseudo-theological ideology.

Most teachers who use the Good News Club curriculum are sincere and well meaning. Although the teachers do not consciously intend to harm children, the script they use harms children just the same. The harm is inflicted in an almost robotic fashion through well-intentioned teachers who exemplify classic “authoritarian follower” traits, including an indisposition to question and a servant-minded submissiveness — backed up by the Worker’s Compliance Agreement they sign every year — to obey Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). Without grasping the psychological influences at work, CEF teachers use Good News Club materials — without questioning its content much less its indecent severity — to condition children to become like-minded authoritarian followers.

Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

The most recent advances in society’s consciousness of the emotional vulnerability, dignity and rights of the child are reflected in anti-bullying legislation, policies, and initiatives. The Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999 and subsequent high-profile suicides precipitated by student-on-student bullying and harassment prompted widespread adoption of anti-bullying legislation.

Today, most states require schools to have plans and policies to discourage and deal with bullying. California’s sample anti- bullying policy, for example, declares that “[t]he district, schools, and community have an obligation to promote mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance,” and states that the district “[a] student shall not intimidate, harass, or bully another student through words or actions,” including “verbal assaults.” Delaware’s anti-bullying model policy encompasses verbal acts that create “a hostile, threatening, humiliating, or abusive educational environment due to the pervasiveness or persistence of actions or due to a power differential between the bully and the target.” New Jersey’s policy protects its students from “insulting” or “demeaning” verbal abuse.

Anti-bullying policies are also reflected in most schools’ student codes of conduct or student handbooks. Alabama’s model code of conduct, for example, includes an expectation that students treat other students with “courtesy, respect, and dignity.”

The scope of these laws vary, but most bullying laws extend to all student conduct occurring on school grounds, school property, or at any school event. Three-quarters of states laws extend their anti-bullying provisions to student conduct that occurs on buses or other school-owned or leased vehicles. See generally U.S. Department of Education Report, Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies (2011); American Jewish Committee & Religious Freedom Education Project/First Amendment Center, “Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression: Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools”; National School Boards Association, “School Safety.”

The Good News Club Program Bullies Children

To reiterate the above, typical Good News Club teachers are well-meaning and do not consciously intend to bully. Furthermore, most anti-bullying laws and policies deal only with student conduct, and thus they would not strictly apply to Good News Club teachers and volunteers.

However well-intentioned the teachers are, the Good News Club curriculum which they tragically and submissively employ is psychologically and emotionally harmful.

Anti-bullying policies reflect a growing and compelling societal expectation that children, particularly on school campuses, have a right to protection from emotional and psychological harm.

Against a carefully crafted religiously neutral facility use policy that bars access to groups that employ psychologically harmful pedagogy or programs, CEF and its legal advocates will face the daunting task of explaining why adults — who are not compelled to run their clubs in public schools — should be allowed, on first amendment grounds, to shame and degrade elementary school children on public elementary school grounds when students themselves are prohibited from doing so.

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