November 18, 2011

The Power of Words: Adult Bullying

So often we hear about bullying in our schools. As parents, we stand up strong and search for ways to stop it. Growing up, I always heard the children's rhyme: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

I beg to differ. Words can do so much more damage than a simple punch in the face. If you've ever been told you were fat, ugly, stupid, or any other myriad of words, you understand. All the words translate into a feeling of worthlessness. Sadly, we don't talk about it as much, but it doesn't stop when we become adults.
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My sister, Tara, shared a really powerful story about adult bullying with me today. A man who lives near her has suffered for years at the hands of people who throw around the word fat like it doesn't hurt as much as a punch. It does. When Jerry said he considered ending his life, I broke into tears. Tara, who appears briefly in the video, works at the fitness center that has given Jerry a new lease on life. A place he can belong.
Please take a moment to read the article and watch the video: Washington Man Bullied As A Teen, Bullied As An Adult. It'll break your heart, but more importantly, I hope it will make you think. Words are as powerful as punches, and the long lasting effects are much more damaging.
I am a writer, I live day to day in a sea of words. I know their impact.
Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Remember to use your words nicely. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Sure, it's what we tell our children, but we need to walk the walk. If our kids hear us saying mean things, all the preaching in the world won't stop them from being mean adults.

Let's stand up for the Jerrys of the world, regardless of age.

10 comments:

Nana said...

Tia,

Thank you so much for posting this story. It is a heartbreak cry driven deep into the soul of people who are at the raw end of bullying. I've seen it in the schools. It is chronic in our culture which is filled with the mentality of "it's all about being the best". I applaud the "Jerry's" of the world who push and try to overcome the debilitating effects of abuse. And thank you, Tara, for making this young man's dreams come true. You were the impetus that kept him going and striving! We need more champions like you to rally around those in need.

My Inner Chick said...

--Words have "POWER." Enough power to make one feel quite small and worthless.

Thank you for a most eye-opening post.

Christine said...

This is beautiful. I was bullied as a child, and have no tolerance for it now. Have you seen The Mom Pledge badge on my blog? It's a community of women bloggers standing against bullying. You should check it out!

Laura said...

Bullying is a subject I am particularly sensitive to as well. I was bullied both verbally and physically as a kid, particularly in junior high school. It is detrimental to your sense of worth and the scars stay with you as jagged reminders your whole life. Raising awareness and teaching our kids not to be bullies is the key.

Tia Bach said...

I really appreciate everyone's comments. This story really hit home with me. It's a shame when adults bully.

Christine, I'll check that out for sure. Thanks for letting me know.

Bridgette Booth said...

You are so right that words have much, much power. I have a friend who has been bullied because of her weight. It is sooooo sad. It's also incredible that people feel they can ridicule her. What is wrong with them?

This is a wonderful post. I'm so glad you are highlighting this problem.

towriteistowrite said...

Amen.

towriteistowrite said...

Amen.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for the Amen! This story really affected me!

Tia Bach said...

Bridgette, I truly don't know what's wrong with some people.

My daughter is dark-skinned, her father and I aren't (his grandfather was Mexican). People constantly ask her, or me, if she was adopted. It really bothers her sometimes, because people are so intrigued by the color of her skin.

I just don't get why people feel the need to say what they think! Process a little before you blurt things out. It sickens me that adults can't behave better than that.

Thanks for stopping by!