“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
I’m sorry, but whoever wrote that little proverb obviously had never been around children and/or teenagers at any given time in their life. It was originally coined in 1894 by G.F. Northall as a child’s taunt. It was a taunt used to explain the fact that, although sticks and stones can break bones, words can never shatter a spirit or the particular individual cannot be taunted by name-calling or bullying. Although the premise behind the proverb is understandable, it is WRONG. In my opinion, words have power and hold way more meaning than any stick or stone can or ever would.
In our current culture, words are taken so very lightly, and I see everyday a degradation of value and kindness towards others because of the lack of respect for other people’s feelings. From the tiniest baby to the oldest person alive, we should always treat each other with kindness.
Words are very powerful and can certainly be destructive, if used against someone.. They can leave terrible stink stains on a person’s soul, and we all need to be more responsible. Provocation, name-calling, spite, telling lies on people and derogatory words are all WRONG and must never be accepted as the “right” thing to do or something that is OK because everyone else is doing it!
Last Friday I was called a racist by a student. Now I understand that it was said out of frustration, and I really don’t think the student meant it. She just wasn’t getting her way, so she wanted to take it out on me. (I, in no way, took it personally). But, it did sting a little bit, and my relationship with that student will forever be stained by that word….racist.
Another student I had in class that same day said, “shut up, smarty pants!” (when another student answered my question that I asked to the entire class). Again, the first student didn’t mean it (I don’t think), but it was said nonetheless. I kept her after class, and we talked about it. I told her it was inappropriate to say, even if she was “just kidding” (which she says she was). She said they joke back and forth like that all the time. (It’s still not right, I said).
Her response: “Well, as long as I don’t say in front of a teacher, than can it be OK?”
My response: “No.”
Words hurt. Far more than any stick, stone, punch, slap, or kick.
It is very important for people, especially children, to recognize the power of words and how damaging they can be. Words have the power to make or break people, and they can leave scars that never heal until those hurting words are retracted through sincere forgiveness.
So, if I could, I would go back and tell G.F. Northall…..
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, AND words can CERTAINLY hurt you.”