Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. How many of us have heard this simple childhood saying? Yet the more I think about it, the more I think it is misleading kids.
I say this because words, of course, do hurt. Anyone who has ever been in a fight with a loved one knows just how sharp the wrong word spoken by the right person can be. It can be devastating. And if mental illness is something that an individual lives with, the wrong words can be down right deadly.
We have seen this in the tragic cases of youth who die by suicide because they were victims of verbal bullying. We see it time and time again and yet we still keep pushing the idea that words don’t hurt. That words don’t kill. They do and we need to talk about it.
Because rather than teaching kids that words can never hurt, we instead need to be teaching our children how to handle the hurtful words we sometimes encounter. We need to teach kids to talk about the words that hurt them, so that we can understand the pain of the words and move past it.
I believe that society is slowly starting to do this. We are slowly starting to implement this transition. And if this post can push that transition along a lit bit faster, all the better. And if you are someone struggling in the darkness, trying to deal with the pain of words that were thrown at you like weapons, know that you aren’t alone, and that toughness and thick skins have nothing to do with the the fact that words can hurt.
But they can also heal. And that is just as important.