National Bullying Prevention Month


October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and it’s a good time for schools & communities to take stock of current efforts to reduce and prevent bullying. Consider the following: Do current school climates make students feel safe, allowing them to thrive academically and socially? Are youth comfortable speaking up if they are being bullied? Are members of the Catholic community engaged when it comes to reporting bullying stories?

Bullying can be verbal, physical, or online. It can severely affect the victim’s self-image, social interactions, and school performance – often leading to insecurity, lack of self-esteem, and depression. School dropout rates and absences among victims of bullying are also much higher than among other students.

Robert Bimonte, NCEA president, said Catholic schools have an important role to play in bullying prevention. “Our Catholic faith teaches children to respect others and emphasizes moral development and self-discipline.”

Although, bullying is an issue all schools must deal with. Catholic schools have a distinct advantage – the ability to incorporate the teachings of the Catholic faith. Research shows that a schoolwide character education program can prevent cruelty and promote respect by teaching prosocial skills such as empathy, listening, and conflict resolution.

RCL Benziger’s Family Life is a great resource for Catholic schools; as a comprehensive moral catechesis for families, Family Life is designed to complement the religion curriculum in your school or parish. This best-selling program presents the teachings of the church with clarity, and offers unparalleled support for Catholic families!

The following resources provide information regarding RCL Benziger’s Family Life program, bullying, and bullying prevention for families and their communities.

Family Life Child Safety Scope and Sequence
Family Life Program Scope and Sequence
Confronting the Challenges of Bullying
Resources and Strategies to Address Bullying

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Respecting Life: Learning from Pope Francis – by Daniel S. Mulhall

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States seemed to capture the ears, eyes, hearts, and minds of millions of Americans. While one would expect Catholics to pay especially close attention to the Pope’s words, if news reports can be taken at face value, millions of others not of the Catholic faith were also enthralled by the Pope’s message.

I say message, and not messages, for a reason. The Pope’s comments seemed to be centered on one common theme: God made men and women in the divine image. For that reason alone, every person in the world has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Distilled to its essence, the Holy Father’s message was to respect life because it is sacred.

While it is impossible in a short essay to cover all of the Pope’s amazing words from his many talks, a look at his speech to members of the U.S. Senate, Congress, and the Supreme Court provides us with a series of action steps we can take in order to move respecting life to the top of our agendas. Here are a few of Francis’ marching orders:

  1. Defend and preserve the dignity of others, working tirelessly for the good of all, not only for our own private needs and desires.
  2. Care for the needs of all, helping them to grow for the good of society, especially those who are most vulnerable or at the greatest risk.
  3. Base every decision you make on the care of people other than yourself.
  4. Form bonds of unity across groups, forming communities of love wherever possible.
  5. Strive to lead people directly to God, the only thing greater than human dignity.
  6. Protect the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
  7. Engage people in conversation, listening carefully to their hopes and dreams, their sorrows and joys. Create a dialogue to help people grow in God’s love.
  8. Recognize and respect the wisdom and dignity of those who are elderly, and the aspirations and promise of the young.
  9. Look for ways to bring hope and healing to a divided community, a divided world.
  10. Work for justice and peace by restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of all.

Daniel S. Mulhall is a catechist. He is the Director of Strategic Markets for RCL Benziger.

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Choosing Life: Choosing Friends and Allies – by Lauri Przybysz, DMin


When we were young parents, it would dismay us when our kids complained that we were the only family who didn’t go to that movie or buy that new game. What a relief it was when we discovered other parents at church who were just as uncool as we were. Everybody was not following the crowd. We made sure we saw more of those people.

Having a group of Christian friends was essential for us through our parenting years, both as a support for our marriage and as an example to our children. One of the best things parents can do to succeed as a Domestic Church is to choose good Christian friends.

When we feel like we are in the minority with our Christian values, choosing friends who share our values can give us allies in living our faith actively. Even though it sometimes seems we are “islands of Christian life,” we actually have lots of company in the Universal Church. If our partner families have diverse age ranges and life experiences, all’s the better. Together, people of faith can cooperate to do more good than one family alone could. Catholic families that experience the joy of the Gospel are the best evangelizers of other families, as well as their neighbors and coworkers.

Developing support networks does not mean circling the wagons and withdrawing from the world into isolated enclaves. Instead, families simply accompany one another on the formative journey of trying to live their faith authentically, welcome new friends, and serve others.

Reaching out to other families, especially those who are less connected to church, is a great way to evangelize one’s neighbors by introducing them to concrete, meaningful ways of living their faith. By working together, Christian families can provide support to those trying to raise a family in a society indifferent or hostile to Gospel values.

Because our family intentionally formed a community with like-minded neighbors, we learned from each other how to be Christian families. Over the years, our friends from church got us involved in many faith-building projects – helping a refugee family find housing, painting an old rectory, hosting missionaries, making a pilgrimage – which we would never have tried on our own. Our children worked beside us, watching and learning. We discovered strength in numbers, and we had fun doing it. This is one of the many ways our family chooses life.

Dr. Lauri Przybysz is a leader in the Christian Family Movement, a network of Catholic families in 42 countries that aims to improve society by building up the Domestic Church. She holds a Doctorate in Ministry from the Catholic University of America, and she has served as an archdiocesan coordinator of Marriage and Family Life, a Pastoral Associate, and middle school religion teacher. She and her husband, John, recently participated in consultations on the Synod for the Family at the Vatican. They have been married for 42 years and have 20 grandchildren.

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Optar por la vida – por Dra. Fanny Cepeda Pedraza


Recuerdo una ocasión en que las palabras de alguien me inyectaron la fuerza que necesitaba para seguir viviendo; otra vez, al abrazarme solidariamente un amigo sentí que Cristo me animaba y consolaba. En otra ocasión recibí el agradecimiento de alguien que se inspiró en mí para cambiar el curso de su vida. A mi mente vino también la sonrisa de un desconocido cuyo gesto iluminó una dolorosa oscuridad que me invadía haciendo mi día rico y productivo. También recordé cuando al compartir con mi padre la carrera que deseaba seguir me respondió despectivamente enfatizando las probabilidades de fracaso de esa ocupación. Al escucharlo sentí que algo en mi moría. Concluí que muchas veces, quizá más irreflexivamente que intencionalmente, sembramos vida o damos muerte..

Recordemos ocasiones en que con nuestras palabras, actitudes o acciones hemos aplastado autoestimas, hemos hecho miserable la vida de aquellos con quienes convivimos o tratamos; en que por egoísmo hemos fragmentado nuestra familia al imponer sin consideración nuestra voluntad o por la irresponsabilidad de nuestros deberes. ¡Cuántas veces hemos ignorado a alguien necesitado de apoyo y afirmación, o que añoraba una caricia o validación de sus sentimientos y aspiraciones; ocasiones en que nos hemos hecho sordos a voces que claman por justicia y paz!

Fuimos creados por amor y para amar. Es nuestra misión en la vida. Al aceptarla adoptamos nuevas perspectivas y responsabilidades comenzando en el seno familiar pero extendiéndose a muchas otras áreas. Optar por la vida es convertirnos en instrumentos de Cristo, ser sus brazos, pies y oídos en este mundo; es ser ‘la sal de la tierra’, es dejar que su luz brille a través de nuestras acciones. Es amar como él amó.

Nuestra comunión con Dios mediante la oración y la práctica de la caridad riegan y mantienen fértil nuestro terreno para producir semillas que perpetúen una cosecha de vida. La ausencia de ellas gradualmente lo seca y lo hace improductivo. El Papa Francisco dice que “Lo que la Iglesia necesita con urgencia es capacidad de curar heridas y dar calor a los corazones… Como un hospital de campaña tras una batalla”. Cumplamos nuestra misión, curemos las heridas; descartemos el egoísmo y el propio interés. Empleemos nuestros esfuerzos en sembrar vida atendiendo a quienes sufren o están en peligro de fallecer. Recordemos que no solo sembramos muerte con nuestras malas obras, egoísmo e intereses propios sino también al ser indiferentes al sufrimiento de los demás. ¡Optemos por la vida!

Dra. Fanny Cepeda Pedraza es consultora nacional en el área de catequesis y formación teológica.

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