In September WMU launches a focus on the social issue of human exploitation. This issue encompasses the topics of human trafficking (sex and labor), bullying, media exploitation, pornography, and exploitation of natural resources. Many have asked me, How do we handle this issue with preschoolers in my church? It seems so simplistic to reply, “Teach preschoolers to be kind to others.” But at the root of it all, that is the best way to handle this issue. We need to begin with our preschoolers and children in teaching them to do what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (read Matt. 22:37-39).
An example of this is the issue of bullying. This is an issue that we think about with teenagers and older children, but I have seen the beginnings of bullying attitudes and actions even in the preschool classroom. I have heard four-year-old girls say to another girl, “We’re not going to let you be our friend today.” Or the boy repeatedly teasing and lashing out physically at another more timid boy. It is our responsibility as adults to teach preschoolers more appropriate ways to interact with others. As a Mission Friends teacher, I have the opportunity to teach this as we talk about God’s love for all people. I need to make sure to teach not only that we show respect to people from other countries or cultures, but we also show respect to the child sitting next to us.
Throughout this year, we will continue to examine the issue of human exploitation and appropriate ways of handling this issue with preschoolers.