“Sticks and Stones” — Too Harsh for Today’s Kids?

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Storyteller Tom Shillue ponders exactly the children’s rhyme I have been thinking a lot about lately, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

It’s annoying that I have to add a caveat here that I do not endorse bullying. (Come on — who does?) (Besides some presidential candidates, I mean.) But I do endorse encouraging our kids to shrug off some of the stupid and/or unkind behavior they encounter.

Shillue’s analogy — inoculation — is one I use, too: Once kids see they can deal with a bit of sturm und drang and pop back up, they are inoculated with resilience, a fantastic, emboldening trait. Resilience is the opposite of the hypersensitivity our culture seems to endorse.

Ah — I am getting boring and wordy. Here’s Tom. And the question I have for you today is: ARE kids learning the phrase, “Sticks and stones…” anymore? Or has it gone the way of lawn darts? – L

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Some sticks hurt more than others....

Of course, some sticks hurt more than others.

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77 Responses to “Sticks and Stones” — Too Harsh for Today’s Kids?

  1. Les Groby February 3, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    I think the phrase has gone out of favor because it overstates the case. Words absolutely CAN cause harm, and most people realize that now. You’re right that it’s a bad thing to take every slight or insult seriously. Growing up should include growing a thick enough skin to shrug off an occasional harsh or angry word. However, children should not be told that words can NEVER hurt people because it just isn’t true.

  2. M. February 3, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    I don’t know about all kids, but I certainly say it to my kid. And there’s a big difference between bullying (repeated, incessant harassment) and run of the mill, every so often, playground name calling. Of course I’m trying to teach my child not to use harsh words to hurt others, but he’s going to do it eventually, just like someone will eventually say something hurtful to him, and when they do he needs to know that the world will keep on spinning. I mean, who hasn’t dealt with a jerk? Even in adulthood? It’s a skill we all need, lest we fall to pieces at the slightest criticism.

  3. DP February 3, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Words only hurt us if we LET them hurt us. THAT’S what children need to be taught.

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    –Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. BL February 3, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    “‘Growing up should include growing a thick enough skin to shrug off an occasional harsh or angry word.”

    If people engage in name-calling, don’t let it make you doubt yourself. Instead, lose any respect you have for them.

  5. pentamom February 3, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    As someone who was picked on to the extent that it unavoidably hurt because of the degree and amount I endured….

    I think this is great. I wasn’t “inoculated,” for me, it was like getting the disease.

    But a one-off comment now and then is not the same thing. You CAN choose to let that kind of thing bounce off, and it DOES teach you how to respond to the fact that other people around you can be stupid and mean, which is a necessity in life.

    I think what I endured was a failure of the adults in charge to recognize the situation and deal with it. But it wasn’t because they didn’t condemn every silly teasing comment, and utterly forbid personal reflections. I grew up teasing my brothers and being teased back, and it didn’t have the same effect, because it was limited.

  6. Roger the Shrubber February 3, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Anti-bulling lessons taught by my fourth grader’s school recommend ‘telling a teacher’. I told him to never tell the teacher if verbally bullied and to only tell a teacher if physically bulled if it required him going to the nurse. But he’s physically and mentally capable of appropriately dealing with bullies; this is not necessarily appropriate for all. But I would rather he learned to deal with these things himself rather than expecting that an authority figure is going to resolve every less that optimal interaction he has with a peer.

  7. K February 3, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    I teach my kids that words are not physically harmful, but that words have meaning and it’s really important that they think about things before they say them. I’ve got a boy with impulse control issues (as is normal at his age) and I told him he can say whatever he wants in his head, but needs to make sure that all those things don’t come out of his mouth. And that there’s a big difference between being truthful and tactful. At some point, everyone will have to work for or with someone that they don’t like and leaning how to get along with people when you can’t be friends is super important.

  8. Sigh February 3, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    What you do with your fist
    I cannot resist.
    Yet your words can reveal
    What you need, think and feel.

    If I listen, I’ll hear
    What it is you most fear.
    I don’t like your delivery
    But I won’t take it personally.

  9. lollipoplover February 3, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    I say something similar to my kids that I guess is more PC:
    “You can’t control how other people act or what they do,
    but you can control how you react (or don’t react)”

    I’ll admit, my kids are definitely more rough and tumble but I’ve only used the Sticks and Stones phrase a few times. Name calling and offensive phrases haven’t really been a problem with the group of friends they run with but when dealing with conflicts, letting them know that they don’t have to rise and engage someone who is criticizing them or belittling them and often times that kid is only doing it for attention.

    There are many kids out there who are going through rough patches (parents divorcing, illness in the family) who act out. I’ve told my kids that when children are going through bad times, they often seek out attention by doing or saying bad things- that it’s attention-seeking behavior and the kid doesn’t care what kind of attention they get, positive or negative. Recognizing someone doing this and not reacting to it takes skill.

    I always ask them to work things out on their own level. “I know you didn’t really mean to say that” and a brief, polite confrontation usually stops it from escalating. Kids can handle these small disputes but are smart to report patterns and bullying behavior. They can and should be resolved while they’re still small- kids are still learning. Sometimes they don’t even know the meaning of the bad words they are saying. My 9 year-old has a classmate who calls her classmates “b*tch” (which has offended a few) yet at home, her mom uses the term to talk about her closest friends. Teaching them to learn context is part of parenting (and it’s HARD!!).

    I know adults who are bullies. I’ve left jobs because I didn’t want to work in this environment (and have told management my reasons). It’s important for children and adults to address these behaviors. Kids have a lot of power to be influential and call out others for unkind or inconsiderate acts towards others. These basic social manners they learn on the playground, like taking turns and being respectful, will carry them through life and are resiliency skills(that will hopefully grow as they handle future encounters).

  10. Dienne February 3, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Thanks, DP – you just made everyone in an emotionally abusive relationship responsible for their own abuse.

  11. TheOtherAnna February 3, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    Actually, studies show that emotional abuse has worse and more lasting consequences than physical abuse. If that’s the case for today’s adults, then maybe our generation wasn’t “better off” because we were taught that words can’t harm. Bruises heal, words cannot be taken back. We may have gone too far in the other direction today, but how about just avoiding extremes either way? In some ways, we live in a kinder, more tolerant world today because this generation of children and young adults are taught to consider their words more carefully and aim to not hurt people with them.

  12. Opal February 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    I think this phrase should be brought back, but the way I learned it: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yes, bullying should be addressed (I was verbally bullied throughout school), but bullying often gets worse if you “tattle” to an adult. If it’s not physical and just some sad sack kid tearing you down because they’re insecure, the best you can do is ignore it. In adult life, I see college kids (ADULTS) not being receptive to constructive criticism, because it implies to them that all their hard work wasn’t worth it, if it comes back with edits. Students complaining about one, two, three points lost on the first assignment of the semester. Wouldn’t it be better to listen and learn from the “hurtful” words in college, learn what you aren’t doing properly, and move on? I’m writing a thesis right now and actually look forward to the track-change marked draft, because I learn something from every single draft. My editors are not insulting me as a person-they’re helping me grow as a person. I shouldn’t be upset. I guess this whole, “Words hurt,” issue bothers me because it makes me feel like every single person needs to be told they are doing a great job, even when they aren’t. And I want to let some students know to step up because I have their best interest in mind-I want them to get jobs upon graduation. My words are fair, honest, and not personal, but students seem to be increasingly upset and/or combative, with the viewpoint of (quoted), “Well, it’s not like they’re going to give me full points, so whatever.” (We do give full points, to a number of students, who ask questions, listen, and show up to a college-level course to learn. It’s not that hard. I’m right there. I give out my cell number. I check my email once every half hour while awake. You have all the resources. But yeah-get pissed at me because you feel I have a personal issue with you and that my words are “mean”.)

  13. Nicole Pelton February 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    I agree that words can hurt as much as something physical – and so I really don’t like that song but I wouldn’t complain if someone said it to my kids. They have not had many instances of people saying hurtful things, but they have reported on others and I’m glad for that. Even in the “liberal” bay area racist remarks and are rampant in schools, and I don’t think those should be brushed off. I don’t believe in zero tolerance and heavy punishment of kids, but I do believe they need to be called on it and continually educated, partly to counter the awful awful behavior I do see in our politicians.

  14. Tee Dee February 3, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Dienne, my impression is that the Roosevelt quote is intended to apply to everyday situations and not abusive relationships. I don’t think anyone here would say someone in an abusive relationship is RESPONSIBLE for their abuse.

    Quotes are glib snippets of folk wisdom, not scientific analyses of every facet of an issue.

  15. Dienne February 3, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Tee Dee – I wasn’t just referring to the Roosevelt quote. I’m referring to what DP said: “Words only hurt us if we LET them hurt us.” Tell me that that’s not blaming the victim.

  16. Warren February 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Dienne,

    DP did no such thing. Words do only have the affect we let them have. That is positive or negative. Emotional abuse is a lot more than just verbal acts and you know that.

    I have raised daughters, and they have both be taught and empowered to not let the small stuff bother them, and to not take the big crap off of anyone.

  17. John February 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    It is my opinion that we are going way too far nowadays with all of these anti-bullying messages and seminars that are held in schools. It’s to the point where we’re conditioning our kids to be hypersensitive. In my day, if a bigger and stronger kid knocked you to the ground, straddled your chest and pepper slapped your face on a consistent basis, THAT was considered bullying. By nowadays if kids merely give their peers some good old fashion ribbing about something, that is considered bullying.

    Now YES, words can hurt, I got that! Calling an effeminate boy the f.. word is wrong and cruel. Same with using flagrant racial slurs toward your classmates and making fun of another kid’s weight can be cruel, depending upon the kid. But we seem to be taking this bullying thing too far.

    When I was in 3rd thru 5th grade, I use to play a violin so kids would tease me by calling me “Jack Benny junior” or “little Rubinoff”. Nowadays, schools would consider that “bullying” and have 0 tolerance for it. The truth is NO, that is not bullying! It’s just good old fashion teasing that should go with the territory! Now if a child is touchy about that, THEY are the ones who need to be sat down and told to shake it off. “Johnny, they’re just teasing you! Goodness, consider being called “Jack Benny junior” a compliment! And I did indeed consider that a compliment!

    I could go on and on with examples of petty little things the schools would consider “bullying” nowadays but there wouldn’t be enough space. I can understand the importance of teaching kids respect BUT I also think a certain amount of training should be devoted to teaching kids to have thicker skin. It would be better for them in the long run and would aid them immensely in the work place someday.

  18. Dienne February 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    No, Warren, that’s simply not true. Words have profound impact and we have minimal control over that impact. We’re hard-wired as social creatures. Social relationships are at the heart of our survival. The primitive parts of our brains literally can’t tell the difference between a verbal threat and a physical one. Our bodies respond to each with the fight/flight/freeze reaction. Yes, our executive functions can override those reactions to some extent, especially as we get older. But the initial physical and emotional reactions are still there, still causing physical harm, which mounts over time which is why people subjected to higher stress, including emotional and verbal abuse, have a significantly greater chance of developing medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and others.

  19. DP February 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    Dienne, get a grip, eh? This article is not about emotionally abusive relationships. This is about kids and how they should be taught to deal with verbal battles on the playground. If you CHOOSE to take it out of context so you can bring the drama, that’s on you. Maybe you’re just having a slow day.

    Thanks to Tee Dee and Warren for having some common sense.

  20. John February 3, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    Is anybody here familiar with the book “Your Erroneous Zones”? It was out back in the mid-70s when I was going to college. Think the author of the book was a guy by the name of Kenneth Dryer or something like that. Basically, his philosophy was that how we react to what is said or done to us is our choice. The theme of his book was that in the best interest of our health, we should not allow other people to dictate our emotions. He used the example of a New York subway employee who was heard talking to a customer in a crude way, calling him stupid and incompetent. But the customer just looked at him and said, “Thank you very much sir, you have a wonderful day”. When other people questioned his easy going nature towards this asshole, the guy replied, “Why should I let HIM be responsible for my emotions and ruining my day?

    Now much of what is written in this book is easier said than done and many of us college kids back then thought the guy was crazy. But when you get right down to it, you cannot really argue with its basic principles. I really believe this book should be mandatory reading for all high school and college kids today!

  21. Warren February 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    Dienne,

    Threats, be they verbal or physical are criminal acts. If you are getting them from anyone, do not wait, do not hesitate, contact the police, now.

    You see the only power any one person has over another is the power we let them have. That is true. You have the control to change that power dynamic simply by saying “Enough, this stops now.”.

    I am a large man, that prefers aggressive stances to any other. My flight/fight or freeze response has always ended up with the fight response. My kids are the same way. They don’t back down, they don’t take crap off of anyone.

  22. Travis February 3, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    @ DP–“Words only hurt us if we LET them hurt us. THAT’S what children need to be taught.”

    This is neurotypical thinking, and sure YOU can try and live by that rule, because it’s a good rule. But neurodivergent people, and people that are neurotypical but are in an abusive emotional relationship– whether it’s a couple or an abusive parent– will lead to be thought of as inferior because “it’s their own fault they are down/depressed/ill”.

    Words hurt, and they might not hurt the same depending on who you are, but they certainly can damage people.

  23. JulieC February 3, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    I believe we should teach children to ignore or otherwise brush off the random remark or comment. I find this whole “calling people out” thing actually assists in creating a bunch of thin-skinned little tyrants (generally speaking).

    However, if one is dealing with a consistent pattern of verbal abuse/bullying, I think it is important to respond. My choice is to respond with humor and/or irony.

    When I was a kid I developed a bit sooner than some of my peers. In 8th grade a girl started teasing me, always in front of her group of friends, suggesting that I was ‘stuffing my bra’ (is that still a thing?). My mother told me, repeatedly, to ignore it. But it didn’t stop. My best friend asked me why I didn’t respond, and she pointed out, correctly, that the girl doing the teasing, was, in fact, flat as a board. So, the next time she started in with the teasing, I responded, ‘you are just jealous. You don’t have anything on top.’ I will never forget the look on her face. After that, she tried to be my friend.

    My son was getting consistently bothered by a kid who met the classic definition of bully – bigger, not too bright, more than willing to throw his weight around. My son told him, one day, to go find a pig trough to root around in (or words to that effect). The other kids around him had a good laugh and that kid stopped bothering him.

  24. Steve February 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    Dienne,

    Read about Wayne Dyer – the author of “Your Erroneous Zones”
    – the person and book John was talking about.

    http://thepsychicgenius.com/my-guy/

    His personal story might start you on a very positive journey.

    Another good book is called “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud. You can find videos on youtube by both of these men.

  25. Vicki Bradley February 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    I always liked this one: “I’m rubber and you’re glue – whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”

  26. andy February 3, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Emotional abuse is just words. When it is not just words, we call it physical abuse.

    Dealing with insults is not as simple as just ignoring them. Passively accepting insults coming your way is not necessary path to respect or anything. If you just ignore them and are not perfect at hiding emotions, you risk looking weak and becoming permanent target and isolated. Ignoring sometimes works and other times does not.

    Besides, how people talk about you and to you affects how third parties will behave towards you, whether they take you seriously and even whether they will see you as capable or not – even in professional setting. Other people bad-mouthing you or shooting down your ideas unfairly during meeting affect whether you are seen as capable or valuable which in turn affects your tasks, salary and overall career.

    The “it affects you only if you let it” advice is adult cop out when they do not want to deal with situation or don’t know how to help. You could have say “I do not care go away” and it would be pretty much the same thing. It does not help build resilience, it just leaves target alone and without advice.

    That does not mean zero tolerance policies solve anything. They do not deal with target and do not help victim learn how to handle the situation. They are easy to abuse by bullies who frame their victim as guilty.

    By helping victim I mean helping victim figure out how to answer which sometimes means teaching victim to say something rude back with the right tone of voice and posture – and when not to. Or helping victim to gain confidence elsewhere, a kid often becomes the victim precisely because the kid has low confidence, is shy or is not “naturally” good socially.

  27. EricS February 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Resiliency isn’t something that’s learned. We are born with it, it is what makes us learn and adapt as human beings from the time we are born. It does however, need to be nurtured and developed. Just like we have the natural ability to stand and walk, we have the ability to be resilient and overcome. It just needs to be helped along. And like with any other skills, if it’s not used or practiced, you tend to forget about it, or your body never gets accustomed to it.

    If parents can teach fear and paranoia in children (another natural aspect of humans..fear…not paranoia), they can teach their kids how to hone their resiliency. And one of the things NOT to do, is give children the false sense of confidence, without ever experiencing hardship. eg. They are “special”. Not allowed to fail. And even if you lose, you get a trophy anyway.

    That being said, “names” do hurt. And can leave emotional scars. IF the child has not learned how to deal with being made fun of. For the most part, my childhood was bully free. Between 7 and 8 years, I did come across a bully. But I was taught to stick up for myself. And when I finally had enough, I did. I got in trouble at the school, but the bullying stopped right away. I also had a lot of friends, so they helped stick up for me too. And my parents never punished me for sticking up for myself. I do recall my mother getting mad at the principal for giving me detention, when I was only defending myself.

  28. Dienne February 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Oh, good, now we’re into the power of positive thinking nonsense. Some of you here are awfully privileged and some of you need to check it.

    Over and out.

  29. andy February 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    @JulieC I think that this whole “calling people out” thing actually is quite often bullying. They are often the bullies others need to learn how to deal with.

  30. BL February 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    @Dienne
    “Some of you here are awfully privileged and some of you need to check it.”

    Some people might consider that to be an abusive remark, you know.

  31. Travis February 3, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    @BL– “Some people might consider that to be an abusive remark, you know.”

    Those people are idiots. She could be right or she could be wrong about the privilege, I don’t any other users’ history, but it’s nowhere near abusive.

    To be honest, I only understood of my own privilege, and the privilege I had growing up, only relatively recently, which is why I have the opinion I have on this particular issue: that sure you can /try/ to teach children that words don’t hurt, and some, even most, might learn. But not everyone. For different reasons. Previous psychological abuse, mental illnesses, anything. And positive thinking, which is what she was criticizing, won’t change that.

  32. Warren February 3, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    andy,

    Sorry, emotional abuse is a lot more than just words. Emotional abuse covers so much, depending on the relationship. From control of finances, isolation from family and friends, to how and when affection is shown, and the list goes on,

    That is why I totally disagreed with Dienne’s statement to DP. In reality, because we are talking about words, she insulted a lot of true victims of emotional abuse.

  33. Warren February 3, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    I will also go on record that zero tolerance in the schools is a major part of the problem.

    It was nothing back in school to see a smaller, or less popular kid being picked on, and doing something about it. Usually walking up, a good hard shove into the lockers, and a warning to knock it off, worked. Now, I would be suspended, and or charged. Back then the worst thing that happened was getting called out of class, tell my side, and having the VP pat me on the back. Unofficially of course.

  34. Brian February 3, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    Dienne, I used to have a test for clients’ degrees of perceived helplessness; I called it the “body swap” question. Whenever someone would claim he could not do something, change something, escape from something, etc., I would eventually pose the question: “If I were somehow able to swap bodies with you for 48 hours, what do you think would prevent me from (doing that thing)? Do you believe that the hand of God would reach down and prevent me from leaving your boyfriend (e.g.)?” Once we fought our way through the “impossible” myth, we moved onto “why I choose not to.” The reality is desperately painful at times, but reality it is. Every extra minute one spends in a physically or verbally abusive relationship (or environment) is in trade for another possible outcome, as scary, difficult, or impossible as that outcome may seem. It’s all about the price tags on your decisions. After all, if you are not in control of your life, and your mind, then who is? And does he command the hand of God? I doubt it. Likewise, if you have a problem with words (harmless pressure waves of sound, ultimately), then I suggest you ask yourself what gives them life? I’d end there, but I feel moved to mention one bit of dialog from one of my favorite moves of all time, The Matrix: “So, what are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?” “No, Neo. What I’m trying to tell you is that, when you’re ready, you won’t have to.”

  35. Emily February 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    There is some truth to “sticks and stones,” but I just want to say one thing–in some cases, a child who harmlessly teases another one within earshot of a teacher/parent/other adult, might also be saying much worse things when that adult isn’t around. So, even if the adult gives the child being teased the “sticks and stones” line, in response to what they heard, the child might think it applies to the bigger pattern as well, and not bother to disclose all of that.

  36. anonymous mom February 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Kids are not learning it; instead they are learning they are always the victim. I have talked to several of my mom friends about this, and the consensus is that “anti-bullying” efforts in schools, rather than helping their child to treat other kids more kindly and compassionately, just ends up making them believe that any time another child says something to them they don’t like–even if they themselves had said worse things first–they are “being bullied.”

    I try to teach my kids that, when it comes to how others treat us, we choose how we respond. Other people can’t make us feel anything: we choose how we feel in response to what they say. Most of the time, the issue is that somebody is not thinking or having a bad day, and we should just shrug it off and move on. But, when it comes to how we talk to others, we do need to be conscious of how our words can make them feel, and we shouldn’t say things that might hurt somebody. If we do have to give a criticism, we can do so kindly and gently.

    I have wondered if that is inconsistent, to basically tell my kids that they shouldn’t let what other people say to them dictate how they feel while also telling them to think about how their words will make others feel, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just an attempt at helping my children have an internal locus of control. In both instances, they are focusing on the part of the exchange they control. They can’t control what others say to them, but they can control how they respond; they can’t control how another person reacts to their words, but they can control what comes out of their mouths.

    I do think we spend far too much time, and encourage our kids to spend far too much time, worrying about how other people’s words and actions make us feel, and spend comparatively very little time every thinking about how our own words and actions affect others. I know the decline in empathy in young people has been widely discussed, and to the extent that it exists, I do think that a culture move away from taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions and toward identifying the many ways in which others have wronged us.

    I have never, ever heard of a situation in which a child walked away from an anti-bullying presentation or lesson going, “Wow, I have realized that I’m a bully. I need to make amends to those I’ve hurt and change my ways.” Not once. Instead, every child walks away thinking about all of the times they themselves have been bullied and how mean and bad those bullies were. That is not healthy. When all our “consciousness-raising” about injustice does is convince more and more people they are indeed terribly victimized by injustice–rather than making people think seriously about the ways in which their own behavior harms others–then we are failing.

  37. anonymous mom February 3, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    We seem to fail to make a distinction between the normal and often petty cruelty of childhood–and, I guess, just humanity as a whole–and true, damaging bullying. A child who has friends and support at home, but who sometimes has a classmate say something mean to them–or who even might have one classmate who they just do not get along at all with and often hear nasty remarks from–probably should just shake it off. I don’t tell my kids “Sticks and stones will break your bones,” but I do tell them that haters gonna hate. 😉

    I remember there being a girl who really hated me in sixth grade. Like, really, passionately hated me. She said nasty things to and about me; once she even threatened to beat me up after school. It was unpleasant, but I just ignored her and let it not get to me as much as I could, and that seemed to be the right way to handle it. I certainly wasn’t the most popular girl in school, but I had friends and a loving family and was relatively secure in myself for a sixth-grade girl. The girl who had it in for me was not particularly popular or well-liked, and it’s not like she turned the whole school (or even anybody) against me. It was just weird, irrational schoolyard politics, and it happens, and I don’t think adult intervention is generally required or even positive. Shake it off.

    That’s different than a situation where a group–sometimes a very large group–of students turn against another child in an ongoing, systematic way that isolates that child and alienates them from others. I still think, honestly, that telling that child to shake it off is probably still good advice, since all they can really control in the situation is their own reactions. However, that should happen in tandem with adults taking steps to address what’s going on and putting an end to the bullying.

  38. Donald February 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound (or 100 pounds) of cure. When my son was 14 months old I started making him bully resistant. I did this by debating him. At this age, he learned colors. However sometimes when he was wearing a blue shirt, I would tell him that his shirt’s red. Our argument would sound like:

    (me) That shirt’s red
    (him) shaking his head no
    (me) Oh yes it is red!
    It is too
    But I’m bigger than you. Therefore it must be.
    I said it was
    (argues for a minute or so)

    You mean that just because I said your shirt is red doesn’t make it so?
    I’d then sound dejected because I lost the debate. We did this about once a week and he really started to enjoy our arguments.

    When he was 3 years old, he came home from childcare upset because he was teased. A few days later I argued again about the color of his shirt. After I lost the debate. I waited a few moments and started another debate

    (me) You’re a dork.
    (him) shaking his head no
    (me) Oh yes you are a dork!
    You are too!
    But I’m bigger than you. Therefore you must be.
    I said you are!
    (argues for a minute or so)

    You mean that just because I said that you’re a dork doesn’t make it so?
    I’d then sound dejected because I lost the debate.

    Again, he enjoyed our argument

  39. Havva February 3, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    Okay, so I was one of the kids who were picked on in school, pretty much constantly. Between being at best shoulder high on the other kids, and not a Christian. To top things off I was a deeply emotionally sensitive child. I might as well have been wearing a target around. I was told quite frequently “Sticks and stones…” and also to “let the words roll of you, like water off a duck’s back.” It didn’t really help. It wasn’t reassuring, it didn’t solve my emotional reaction to things, and it didn’t give me a strategy to fight back.

    It was a long, hard, road for me. I had a friend in 6th grade with a sharp wit who whispered stinging comebacks in my ear. It cut down on the trouble, and gave me a strategic response, but my feelings still got hurt. The first lightning bolt was when I learned to think “what an idiot” or “that’s just stupid” and move on when mere acquaintances or school mates were rude to me. The second lighting bolt came after things had really fallen apart with a former friend. I had gotten deeply embroiled in fighting every nasty rumor she spread about me. Then decided no one really cared and sunk into isolation. But with the need to say goodby to an estranged friend who was moving, I mentioned all the craziness because what could it matter if I heard another “nobody wants you around” from someone who was still hanging out with her. And he said, “Oh, everyone KNOWS she is crazy, at least everyone worth caring about.” And then the other half clicked into place:

    Not only do you gain peace of mind, and a degree coolness for shaking off random people being randomly mean or stupid. But also that the crazy even in your circle will mark itself (eventually), and so you can safely ignore it with the confidence that the people who matter will figure it out, and that if they don’t they probably aren’t people who should matter to you.

    But how do I convey the hard won experience to a 5 year old, who comes home upset because a foolish kid in her class insists she is 4 and that her birthday didn’t “count.” She knows it is dumb, but I can’t convince her to disengage from it.

  40. Dee February 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    Here’s what bothers me about anti-bullying: my son’s school has an anti-bullying program. They have a set program they follow, grade specific, etc., and they make a big deal about being a bully-free school. Words, just words. No program or phrase will rid a school of bullying. But because the school makes such a big deal about it, my son expects it to be bully free and is mad that it’s not, that the bullies aren’t drummed out of school. One kid was awful – his behavior affected my son’s classroom and the ones around it. (And, in fact, the bully was the son of a bully so you almost couldn’t blame him.) But despite how much he disrupted class and physically and verbally threatened students and teachers, it took more than a year to get him out of the school because it is public. My son could not understand how a bully free school could not get rid of a bully.

  41. Warren February 3, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    Zero tolerance rules and the focus on eliminating bullying will not help anyone. Bullies have been around since the first caveman picked on the smaller caveman. Bullies will be around until the human species is extinct. And there is not a dang thing anyone can do to change that. What you can do is like everything else in raising your kids, teach em, give em the tools and trust them to handle what is thrown at them.

  42. Vaughan Evans February 3, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    Names are not only hurtful-they can be defamatory.

    Father warned me that if I heard my friends giggle-when they use a word or expression-this is often a sign-that the word/expression may be unkind or defamatory. He warned me that I firs should check with him-to see what the word means-to prevent my from making a mistake-and saying something that might result in either a bloody nose-or in trouble with he law(e.g a man could sue me for defamation of character.)

  43. Donald February 3, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    I love this video! Best of all it was made by a University. Now doubt they are one that have to do the batshit crazy stuff like uni administrators dictating stress triggers about even the most trivial stuff. This proves that in this anti bullying world, schools are the ones that get bullied by politicians, insurance companies, and lawyers. Teachers also get bullied. “You must support our policy that white people can’t wear a Mulan Halloween costume or you may get fired” or “You must not allow a child to take any medication unless the proper paperwork is done. You need to allow an asthma sufferer to have an attack and throw up if her name is not on the puffer.” You are not allowed to think or else we will fire you.

  44. TorontoMom February 3, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Most of what can be said, has been said here already. But allow me to add my two cents. The rhyme, I believe, has gone out of favour not so much because of overly sensitive adults, but because it simply isn’t true. Anyone in 2016 who denies that one person can have complete control over another through psychological means without ever lifting a finger against them, should pack their bags and go back to 1950. You are out of touch. Not every physical touch is bullying or abuse and not every hurtful word is bullying or abuse. But some are. And whether it is physical or emotional matters little on the ultimate impact. Some kids (and adults) will be hurt more by physical assaults, and others more by verbal assaults. Depends on who is dishing it and on the makeup of the person on the receiving end.

    When I was bullied as a child (yes, the real kind, the incessant, day after day after day kind) although I was verbally harassed AND physically beaten, it is the words that still ring in my ears to this day. Yes, yes, I have learned to cope and have managed to become a successful and happy adult whose life is awesome 95% of the time. But on those rare hard days when life looks bleak, the words of 40 years ago still pop into my head unbidden.

    So, it’s not about whether we are overreacting. It’s about the fact that the rhyme is Simply. Not. True.

    And to those who have said “words can only hurt you if you let them”, I say this “would you tell someone a physical beating only hurts if you LET it?!?!” What a ridiculous, idiotic thing to say. What an insanely out-of-touch, insensitive, victim-blaming thing to say. If your child is hurting, telling them they are weak for being hurt is hardly helpful. Teaching them how to manage, how to cope and how to respond, those are good things, but denying that their hurt is real is just cruel.

  45. BL February 3, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    @Dee
    “despite how much he disrupted class and physically and verbally threatened students and teachers, it took more than a year to get him out of the school”

    I’ll bet if he hadn’t threatened teachers he’d never have been thrown out. When I was a kid, we weren’t always under constant adult watch, but bullies rarely did their thing away from an institution like school. They knew the institution would come to their rescue in the name of “things not getting out of hand” or “we don’t care who started it” if their target fought back effectively.

    Away from school, they knew they could face serious retaliation with nobody coming to their rescue. It happened a very few times. One bully I remember got a bunch of his teeth kicked out. Another was held down by one boy while another punched his stomach until he vomited. Several times.

  46. EtobicokeMom February 3, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

    @Havva

    What your daughter is suffering isn’t “dumb”. It’s real. Painfully real. And I don’t think telling her she’s dumb for being hurt is terribly helpful. Acknowledge her hurt. And then work with her to learn to manage hurt, work with her to develop good, strong peer management skills, teach her that no matter who hurts her, there will be safety and love at home. She didn’t learn the alphabet overnight and she won’t learn this overnight either. As it did with you, so with her it will take time. You learned in large part through the help and support of close friends, as I read it. So will she. It was a long, hard road for you, as you mention. Why do you think your 5 year old is going to “get it” just like that?

    Kids whose feelings are hurt don’t need to be told they are dumb, weak, sissies or anything else derogatory. We don’t need to helicopter them either, or shield them from every hurtful experience. Being hurt is part of life and I don’t agree with shielding our children from it. But neither should we deny the reality of their experience. It it hurts, it hurts. You can raise strong children who are not over-protected without ever once insulting their pain, whether emotional or physical. Take the birthday party, for instance. Helicoptering would be calling the parent/school and complaining that she wasn’t invited. Helicoptering would be advocating for a policy that everyone in the class must be invited to all parties. But giving her a huge hug, telling her “I’m so sorry that you are hurting,” and talking to her about how she would like to deal with the situation – that’s just parenting. You don’t need to tell her that her feelings are dumb to raise her strong and independent.

  47. Emily February 3, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    >>Take the birthday party, for instance. Helicoptering would be calling the parent/school and complaining that she wasn’t invited. Helicoptering would be advocating for a policy that everyone in the class must be invited to all parties.<<

    Slightly off-topic, but that kind of helicoptering can set kids up for more bullying and other problems. First off, if a parent intervenes (by either calling the school, or the birthday kid's parents) because their own child was excluded from the birthday party, word could get out, and all of a sudden, that kid becomes That Kid who needed Mommy and Daddy to intervene, and who was responsible for the "all or none" rule (or, "all of one gender or none") rule for birthday parties. Alternatively, even if the kids don't object to the rule itself, can you imagine what could happen with a class of 30 kids at a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, or the laser tag arena, or any other place with a lot of activity and minimal supervision? Or, what about a swimming party at a YMCA or similar, where the adults aren't allowed into the children's change rooms? In any of those cases, a bully child could easily pull other kids into far-off corners/tunnels/ball pits/other unsupervised or adult-inaccessible areas, and do some real damage. Not to mention, mandating that all parties include the whole class (or all of one gender) pretty much precludes smaller parties for introverted kids who get overwhelmed around too many people, or smaller parties for kids who want to go somewhere special for their birthday, like a theme park, where it'd be too expensive to invite the whole class, but it'd be feasible with their two or three best friends. So, the all-inclusive birthday party rule may be designed to prevent bullying, but it doesn't really work. Even if it "works" for the birthday party, and everyone there gets along for the duration of the party, that doesn't necessarily mean that everything will be sunshine and rainbows on Monday at school.

  48. Abigail February 3, 2016 at 11:48 pm #

    I think this is great for your general playground shenanigans. We’re parents, just like we can make informed decisions about our children’s maturity re: staying in the car or home alone, etc… we can help our kids navigate when this rhyme works and when it doesn’t. There are times when name calling is best brushed off and ignored.

  49. Emily February 3, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

    P.S., I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention low-income families. Some families can legitimately only afford to provide for a small group of kids at a birthday party, even if said party takes place at their home (which may be a smaller place), or at a park (weather permitting), or some other free venue. So, I worry that the “all or none” or “all of one gender or none” rule for birthday parties ever turns into “kids from struggling families don’t get to have birthday parties with their school friends.”

  50. Havva February 4, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    @EtobicokeMom,
    I didn’t tell my daughter that *she* was dumb, and I certainly wasn’t trying to tell her that her pain was dumb. But perhaps I need to be more careful that she doesn’t feel like that is the implication. She understood and agreed what he said was dumb. My husband seemed to get through to her. He told me that he told her that “one of the hardest things in life is letting the wrong people be wrong.”

    I also think writing the previous comment out helped a bit. Today’s disaster, and she felt worse about it than the birthday insult, was that some kid told the teacher that she used up all the milk, and she said she didn’t. So I lead with the second lesson in soft form and said, “I don’t think you’re teacher thinks any less of you because of that.” Her ragged breathing smoothed out, but she didn’t talk. So kept going and said that her teachers know that milk gets used up, that it just happens. And she started talking about how everyone used the milk. And I mentioned that her classmate probably didn’t really know who used up the last of the milk. And by the time I unbuckled her, she was cheerful.

  51. Warren February 4, 2016 at 1:05 am #

    Emily,

    This whole trend with the birthday invites is BS. My youngest’s school flirted with the idea, until some of us told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine. That we were not going to stand for the school dictating the why, where, when, how and who of our kids social lives. If they insisted that they couldn’t hand out invites at school, then the parents would just phone the homes of the kids invited. Either way, the party was happening on our terms not the school’s.

    They backed off.

  52. sexhysteria February 4, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    Deep wisdom! When someone says anything that tries to hurt your feelings, the best reply is: Who cares what you think? The implication is that the hateful speaker has wasted his time and energy saying something useless, which says more about him than about the intended victim.

  53. Yocheved February 4, 2016 at 6:28 am #

    The whole PragerU series is absolutely brilliant. Watch the video on the “War on Boys”.

  54. Elin February 4, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    About the birthday parties. In Sweden where I live most schools have had the rule that invitations to parties can only be handed out at school if all the children in the class are invited for generations. You are totally allowed to have smaller birthday parties but then you have to go around handing out the invitations yourself or call around. I think it is pretty good to be honest to have this rule. To not be invited to a party might sting but it usually stings more if you are also publically humiliated by having everyone see you are not invited. I can say that as a child who was bullied for periods that I know I was not always invited but at least I didn’t have to experience someone giving invitations to everyone and walk past me and I am grateful for that.

  55. Katie G February 4, 2016 at 7:29 am #

    Has anyone else noticed that the part of speech of the word “bully” has recently changed? It used to be a noun, meaning a specific person who picked on everyone s/he could, for the heck of it. Now it’s become a verb that means anyone picking on anyone else, no matter the severity, frequency, or reason. The occasional remark about odd clothes or geeky interests is now defined as “bullying” rather than “pestering”. It’s put the onus on the target and makes him/her a victim instead of on the one saying everything being the one in the wrong.
    (I put up with plenty of nonsense from classmates over the years, but it wasn’t really from any one source. Moreover, twenty years on, a boy who teased a bit then, is my best friend now. We joke and puzzle his other half over what my friend called me then.)

  56. Emily February 4, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    >>Emily,

    This whole trend with the birthday invites is BS. My youngest’s school flirted with the idea, until some of us told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine. That we were not going to stand for the school dictating the why, where, when, how and who of our kids social lives. If they insisted that they couldn’t hand out invites at school, then the parents would just phone the homes of the kids invited. Either way, the party was happening on our terms not the school’s.

    They backed off.<<

    You're right, Warren. Besides, how would the school enforce such a rule? Yes, they can ban birthday-party invitations from being distributed at school, and yes, they can discourage (notice how I didn't say "prevent") kids from teasing one another over being invited or not, to whoever's birthday party it is, but if you get contact information on your own, and distribute invitations outside of school, even if there is an "invite all or none," or "invite all of one gender or none" rule, the school has no way to actually ensure that that happens. I mean, if someone blatantly excludes one child, and involves the whole class in teasing that child over this, then that's legitimately bullying, which would need to be dealt with somehow, but even then, I don't think the solution would necessarily be to force a party invitation, because there'd be no way to prevent the bullying from continuing at the party, or afterwards. But, most of the time, "exclusion" (or, not inviting EVERYONE) usually happens because the birthday kid is having a smaller party, by choice or by necessity; not because anyone is bullying anyone else. But, a lot of time, when it does happen, the one kid who's being excluded IS the class bully. So, a one-size-fits-all rule isn't the answer here.

  57. lollipoplover February 4, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    “Has anyone else noticed that the part of speech of the word “bully” has recently changed? It used to be a noun, meaning a specific person who picked on everyone s/he could, for the heck of it. Now it’s become a verb that means anyone picking on anyone else, no matter the severity, frequency, or reason.”

    This is a great point.
    Turning it into a verb opens up the definition to many interpretations and lowers the lowest common denominator. I don’t agree with calling every bad name bullying, but I also think there is validity to bullying as a verb. If we as adults help teach our children not to accept certain types of behavior and squash it before it blows up, it helps to not demonize the individual (especially if it’s a child) to be labeled a *bully* long-term. I’ve know many young children who were horrid little bastards but turned into contributing members of society, surprisingly.

    There’s also this trend of tattling that comes with anti-bullying efforts and “bully-free” zones. Every personal slight is reported to the teacher in an effort to maintain this and it pushes the bad behaviors out of the teacher and parent’s eyes (most bad bully stories I hear happen on the bus) where the child is then helpless- they haven’t learned how to deal and cope with these behaviors as they only know to report it. The adults can’t help these kids, they don’t even see it. We raise their expectations with promises of “bully-free” learning and set them up for emotional failure. “Bully-free” is like the promise of a calorie-free doughnut.

    We need to empower kids, teach them social skills to handle conflicts, and realize they are not perfect.
    Just learning…

  58. Jim Collins February 4, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Anti-bullying programs have become big business.

  59. SanityAnyone? February 4, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    Words are extremely powerful. However, we have a lot more control of how we process and assimilate the words we hear versus how we process a physical attack. Everyone should learn the power of words, and how the things we say to others can change them and be carried along for years, whether positive or negative.

    I talk to my kids about how they are helping raise each other and that they will have an adult relationship of their own making. I also teach them to consider the source of words – are they a high-value source like parents or trusted friends, or a low-value source like a stranger or classmate? Even a high-value source can be wrong.

    Can you imagine being the President? With half of the world criticizing everything from how you brush your teeth to blaming you for the worst tragedies in the world, where do people in the spotlight find the strength to go on? I attended an interesting lecture last night about women’s empowerment, precisely focusing on this topic of protecting ourselves from the insults and opinions of others, and from being deeply hurt by circumstances outside our control. We didn’t have much time, but she said when we feel that welling-up of strong feeling (say at an insult), it’s time to check which are facts and which are feelings. Both are good, both are important, but both need to be put in perspective. Facts are external things that happen around or to us. We didn’t cause them, or if we did then that’s a fact we have to own. (He said I’m stupid. They went to lunch without me. My kid stole something. My husband lied to me. I shamed someone publicly, and now there is a backlash.) Feelings are a physiological response to a stimulus. Human feelings affect our heart rate, hormones and cause floods of messages to flow through our brains. If we can see that rush as a physical thing, we can start to let it just rush over us like a wave without believing the words of all the messages that flow (I’m unloved, I’m wrong, I’m inadequate, I don’t fit in, I did that wrong, maybe I’m a bad parent). The speaker’s message was that we are empowered by an ability to sort facts from feelings and deal with them with perspective instead of being washed away by them. We have time with our kids – tell them about sticks and stones, but go farther.

  60. Tee Dee February 4, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    >> Some of you here are awfully privileged and some of you need to check it.

    UGH.

    Look, I’m super liberal. I’m read-up on sociology. Privilege is a real thing, and I fully admit that I have it. I’m male, tall, upper middle class, from upper middle class parents, and I have a good job and a comfortable life. These things were pretty much given to me, and I know it. I’m for social justice, and feminism, and all those good things.

    But is bullying is a social justice issue? Does privilege really enter into this discussion? People bully regardless of class, race, gender, geography, nationality, etc. Can we just talk about an issue and leave the emotionally-charged social justice stuff out of it? I just hate that “privilege” is often used to shut down arguments on things that are only tangentially related to it.

    I’m with BL, “check your privilege” can frequently be considered emotionally charged and designed to wound, depending on when and how it’s used. It’s usually glibly used when people get frustrated and want to set the other person as the “other”, the person who doesn’t understand and who must be mean and wrong.

    Did anyone, ever, in the history of online debate and discussion, respond to this by saying “Golly gee, you’re right! I will check my privilege! Thank you!”?

  61. E February 4, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Most of this is common sense and I presume most adults (regardless of how things are labeled) can recognize good behavior vs bad (from our own kids or from kids they encounter).

    To me, when I hear people look back on High School with regret, I have to wonder why because my HS experience was great. I loved it. I can’t really put the blame solely on them for having that viewpoint, I’m presuming some set of events contributed to it.

    I have a sibling that had pigeon toes and a lazy eye. She wore glasses at a young age to correct the vision (until surgery) and wore straps on her legs to help with her walk. It was not easy for her. It’s a lot more difficult to brush off unkind words when they are relentless and you know you are different.

    When my family moved from the NE to the deep south just before my 6th grade year, I had a classmate that mocked me, mocked my manner of speaking, and called me “yankee” for the entire school year. We had a good laugh about it a HS reunion almost 30 years later with him admitting it was because he “liked” me, but it was a very uncomfortable period for me that had me in tears and confused and needing support from my parents and teachers.

    I can see that “names will never hurt me” only goes so far in some cases.

  62. Emily February 4, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    >>Anti-bullying programs have become big business.<<

    That's true. With that in mind, I feel like, from a financial/profit perspective, it's BETTER that anti-bullying programs don't work, because if they did, the people running the anti-bullying programs would work themselves out of a job. There actually is a solution to bullying, but most people think it's too difficult to actually implement. The solution is to introduce a kind, fair, "cool" adult, who doesn't put up with cruelty, and sets and enforces clear rules. The role of this adult is to set up a culture where it's more beneficial to the kids to be kind to one another and work together, than to bully and exclude and fight and argue with each other.

    My grade seven teacher was like that (our class was a 6/7 split, which is a REALLY hard age), and he did all kinds of fun activities with us, took us on field trips, helped us do a school play, joined in when we played games in gym, and he found good things about each one of us that we could be proud of–even as simple as, say, one girl who could do perfect Beavis and Butt-Head impressions (remember them?) He also set up a classroom currency system early in the year, and divided us into groups of four (of people who wouldn't normally choose to work together), and had us work together to earn play money for prizes. This was his way of reinforcing the rules in a fun way. The thing is, though, he made it clear that life in his class would be fun only if we followed the rules, and didn't act like jerks. Sometimes he got angry, and when he did, we knew he deserved it.

    So, grade seven was one of my favourite years of school, because I wasn't being bullied, I enjoyed school because our class did fun and challenging things, and I was made to feel like I had inherent value–people always came to me for help with their schoolwork. However, our grade seven teacher was relocated the following year, and things slid back into their old ways. So, really, for the positive culture to continue to exist, the person in charge has to be there day in, day out, to reinforce it. I know that that doesn't sound like a very Free-Range idea, but it can be, because he didn't stay on top of us all the time; he let us socialize and make friends as we wished (within the context of the classroom rules/culture he'd set), while remaining available to us if need be. But, once he was gone completely, the reinforcement of that positive culture was gone, and like I said, we were back to the way we'd started.

    So, that's why traditional anti-bullying programs don't work–the team of anti-bullying "experts" comes to Blahblah School, there's a big assembly, et cetera, maybe some posters are put up, maybe it's even a whole big Challenge Day type of thing. But, the "experts" can't stay at Blahblah School after that day, to help the kids apply what they've learned, because they have to move on and cover Whatsit School and Suchandsuch School, et cetera, and nobody really benefits, because there's no follow-through. What happens is, the "experts" take the kids' enthusiastic responses at the assemblies and Challenge Days, and their contributions to the group art projects, as proof that their programs are a "success," but they never seem to ask themselves why they keep having to go back and do these things over and over again.

  63. BL February 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    “Privilege is a real thing, and I fully admit that I have it. I’m male, tall, upper middle class, from upper middle class parents, and I have a good job and a comfortable life. These things were pretty much given to me, and I know it.”

    The thing is, many people born into what are called privileged circumstances find a way to blow it. Laziness, criminality, drugs, alcohol, suicide, you name it. It still takes effort and skill to take advantage of good circumstances, no matter now ‘given’ they may be.

    I can think of a young woman in my own area who will almost certainly spend the rest of her life in prison for a particularly grisly thrill-killing. And she grew up as the daughter of a successful self-made businessman. Most of her youth she seemed to be doing well – star athlete, A-student, interned in a congressman’s office, the works.

    Google up Erika Sifrit. If you have a strong stomach.

  64. Tee Dee February 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    >>The thing is, many people born into what are called privileged circumstances find a way to blow it.

    Oh, for sure. But that’s a horse of a different color; I just meant my statements there as background for my opinion that privilege can often be relevant, but the “check your privilege” statement previously made by our colleague here was uncalled for.

  65. Roberta February 4, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    As someone who was bullied by all of my peers for all of my childhood, I have never liked this saying because it was just another way of taunting me for being bullied in the first place. Translation: it’s not their fault for treating you maliciously – you shouldn’t be so sensitive.

    I heartily agree that kids ought to play with sticks and stones and they should even fight sometimes too. But adults need to stop lying about what hurts or doesn’t hurt. This saying is a reminder that, even in the “good old days”, adults could not always discern between fantasy and reality, and would sometimes cause harm by their ignorance.

  66. Donna February 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    “The thing is, many people born into what are called privileged circumstances find a way to blow it. Laziness, criminality, drugs, alcohol, suicide, you name it. It still takes effort and skill to take advantage of good circumstances, no matter now ‘given’ they may be.”

    Yes, but even then, it takes a huge amount more effort on their part to blow it. Working in the court system of a college town with a large poor population, mostly minority, I see daily the affects of privilege. The college kids get chances that my poor, mostly minority clients, don’t come close to getting. Some of it is simply money – their mommies and daddies can afford to pay for bond and rehab and restitution and expensive experts – but some of it is discrimination. The general belief that the college student is a good kid who just made a bad choice but will ultimately pull it together while viewing my client as more likely than not life-long criminal.

  67. James Pollock February 4, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    “The thing is, many people born into what are called privileged circumstances find a way to blow it. Laziness, criminality, drugs, alcohol, suicide, you name it. It still takes effort and skill to take advantage of good circumstances, no matter now ‘given’ they may be.”

    If you have more privilege, you have more choices, and if you have less privilege, you have fewer choices. It’s possible that NONE of the choices you have are good… much more likely if you are poor, immigrant, minority, etc.

    Having more choices doesn’t make you any better at choosing, however.

    There is a certain nihilism that comes from “having” without “earning”. I like what Warren Buffett had to say on the subject: “Give you children enough so that they can do anything, but not so much that they can do nothing.”

  68. Katie G February 4, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    “Check your privilege” seems to mean that in any discussion, the only valid input comes from the person who had the harder time in (insert area of life here) before age 20. The person who had it easier, regardless of the topic, is immediately dismissed. Should I “check my privilege” because I regularly saw all my grandparents and others never even knew theirs? It gets to be a bit of a stretch.

  69. Hancock February 5, 2016 at 12:37 am #

    When I was in school, I was teased and bullied to the point that school was agony…and nobody could do anything to help. Not the teachers, not school security, not my parents, not my friends. No one. I eventually learned that the system was rigged to against the person being bullied if I dared stand up for myself; but if I didn’t make a stand I would continue to be bullied and assaulted. When I was thirteen I figured out how to use the rigged system to my benefit. If someone offered verbal abuse, I remained silent; but when someone laid hands on me, I made sure to exact loud, vioent revenge right under a teacher’s nose with the entire class seated in audience. I got the benefit of giving painful embarrasment to several bullies on different occasions, at least an hour away in detention and even up to two days off from school, and the bullying would stop for several weeks at a time until my junior year of high when by then I had enough friends and was well enough known to stand up for myself, that bullies finally started to either leave me alone completely and even be civilized in some cases.

    Poor kids these days. Indoctrinated and cowed in to fearful acquiescence. No wonder bullying is such a problem..

  70. mt February 5, 2016 at 3:11 am #

    Words do hurt. When you are constantly bombarded with words that can lower your self esteem, you tend to feel worthless and unsure of yo6rself growing up. When this happens from your parents, you eventually become paranoid and dont learn how to defend yourself. I know, always being bullied when growing up. It becomes so hurtful when you are constantly being put down. While I was a youg pre teen, my father was always calling me brainless, worthless, you will mount to no good, etc. I remember learning sticks and stones may break your bones but names willvnever harm me.. Names can be the most harmful, ever. This in turn makes you feel defenseless and even afraid to stand up for yourself. You tend to fear bullies and either you run away from the situation or stand up to the perpetrator. If you stand up, and face what is coming next, you better learn how to protect yourself and if necessary, fight back. Yes, you may feel that you have been provoked but early on you must learn to use skills to fight back if necessary.

  71. andy February 5, 2016 at 4:44 am #

    The list of banned books in the video caught my attention, so I checked. Lo and behold, quite a few books were challenged while the guy on video was a kid in school:

    — The 1984 book got challenged in 1981 as being “pro-communist”. Which shows they did not read it, I would expect it to be challenged due to sex.

    — The Great Gatsby was challenged in 1987 because of ‘language and sexual references’ and drinking.

    — Lord of the flies was first challenged in 1974, then in 1981, 1983 and most notably in 1984 for “excessive violence and bad language”. It continued to be challenged later.

    — The Catcher in the Rye got banned in 1985 for being unacceptable, in 1987 for sexual references, in 1992 for alcohol abuse.

    So while it did not occurred to him that words in The Great Gatsby would harm him, it did occurred to adults in that era. And funny thing – Jerry the mouse he use as example was accused of “desensitizing kids to violence” around that era. Video games corrupt kids panic happened in 90ties. Going further back to history, panic around comic happened already in the 50ties.

    All that shows that concerns about school readings and content of kids entertainment are nothing new. I know that trigger warnings are new things and concerns about offensiveness these days are much different and new, but those are not examples he used.

  72. andy February 5, 2016 at 6:20 am #

    Another part that irked me was “and stereotypes were common place in that culture” which is followed by all that being called “process of inoculation”. While random insult that nobody believes in anyway (haha you fckface idiot) and is just a meaningless insult. It is simply not the same as insult that refers to existing stereotype such as black is aggressive/potential thief or girls should not play with rockets and cant do math.

    Shrugging off false insult you know people don’t believe in is easy. Shrugging off insult that quite a few people consider true is different. Former is just teasing and maybe may make you a bit desensitized, the latter puts bug in kids head, makes kids doubt itself. It puts fear about how others see or will treat you when you do certain things in your head.

    If I cant solve this difficult exercise right away (or rocket don’t fly), is that really proof that they are right and I am naturally not good at math (or at tech generally)? Does it means there is really no point in trying? If something goes missing in this playground, will I be first blamed due to me being minority? What is the point of being nice boy if I get accused of being aggressive one anyway even when I am just defending myself?

    I am all for making kids strong enough to resist that sort of thing, but funny rhyme wont do that. You have to discuss the situations with them, make sure they know you don’t believe the stereotype, teach them how to respond if they did not figured out by themselves etc. Case in point: girls that grew up in old school gendered environment don’t exactly grew up to be tough confident scientists. They did not became vaccinated against self-doubt. Instead, they grew up assuming they are just not good in certain things and did not even honestly tried then – or used the stereotype as an excuse to be lazy creating nice self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I have kids and I see quite clearly that stereotypes and expectations of other kids and adults have influence on them. It does not mean we should sanitize all art before showing it to them, it means we should put it into perspective and make sure they know it is outdated. Funny how none of those tough inoculated boys would even touch anything looking just slightly girly – whether book or movie or hobby. Don’t tell me it has nothing to do with fear of being mocked and then just sticking to set of behaviors that makes it less likely.

  73. E February 5, 2016 at 8:29 am #

    ” from a financial/profit perspective, it’s BETTER that anti-bullying programs don’t work, because if they did, the people running the anti-bullying programs would work themselves out of a job.”

    This can be said of any service. Diet programs, Lawn Service, Rehab, Dentists, etc.

    I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to that in some cases, but you’d generally have to dismiss any service for hire because once they provide relief from the primary concern, you don’t need them as much.

  74. Joyce Farrell February 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    What a gift to give a child the power to retort, “You can’t hurt me with your stupid words,” instead of whining to the principal about the “bully.” My new slogan — “Retort, don’t report!”

  75. Craig February 7, 2016 at 4:15 am #

    Everything today is teaching people, rather, conditioning them, to take the role of the victim. To constantly be on the lookout for ways in which they might imagine they are ‘hurt’. Schools and especially Universities are hotbeds for this victim indoctrination.

    News and other media teaches that victims are special people and get special attention. (for people who have pathologically been lavished with comforting false attention and and been told they are special all their lives, attention is a security blanket that makes them feel good for 5 minutes, thus, like an addict, they must constantly seek out more of this need to be ‘special’.)

    News is all about creating victims, even where there are not any. I saw a news report about a car maker recalling millions of vehicles and somehow this story turned into interviews of people on the street asking them how they FEEL, with people mostly replying about fears for their children, likely fed that angle by the reporter’s unheard question.

    News is no longer about the 5 Ws but the big ‘H’ “How do you FEEL”. Victims are special, they point TV cameras at them. News is psyops (look up the definition and history of that term). News teaches that everyone is in constant danger. I swear that news producers give reporters and anchors a quota for how many times they must use the words “Safe”, “Safety”, “Danger” “Harm” or the term “At Risk” in a newscast. Go ahead and count them next time you watch. So controlling forces in this culture, of which news is only one of those, has helped to expand the notion of danger now to words, ideas, thoughts or even looks from people.(Just like anti-bullying laws have been co-opted to make almost anything bullying)

    The training of psychologists these days is primarily about victim creation rather than healing. Victims will keep coming back for years for treatment after all. I have seen it in Rwanda where western psychologists at various times since the genocide have attempted to go there and attempt to ‘help’. They try to convince the people that they should feel a certain way, feel like victims, perpetually, Take on that identity. But they get thwarted by the local people who know better, when in fact the people have actually dealt with the issues inside themselves and their culture through, among other things, forgiveness and reconciliation has led to some powerful solutions that have people moving on in healthy ways.

    Popular victimhood is in fact a form of narcissism. When a person seeks attention by taking on the holy role of the slighted. The goal becomes preservation of their own comfort above all else.

    In my city this weekend there is a conference at the local universities on ‘rape culture’. An idea programmed into mindless students by brainwashed social justice and other professors. They believe the distorted and artificial fact that there is such a thing as ‘rape culture’ because they have distorted and expanded the definition of rape to include words uttered by childish men or even imaginary thought constructs. Actual rapes on campus do not happen here or have not happened for a long time, but in this infantilized culture almost everything that makes anyone the least bit uncomfortable is considered rape. Of course actual rape is abhorrent and needs to be dealt with appropriately, but whistling at a woman or catcalling, while a sign of male childishness, is not rape.

    All this insanity is due to a single fact that all kids are not being taught something very important when they are little; Emotional responsibility. That your emotions belong only to you and cannot be caused by anything outside of you. Words or conditions outside you can cause certain feelings to arise but these feelings are yours and are clues for you to see where you hold problematic and habitual notions about yourself or your world that need to be examined and transcended instead of held onto and identified with. They are opportunities for growth. There is a big difference between real, honest and healthy emotion and what it is that gets triggered in people like this.

    Remember one fact, offense can only be taken, not given. If you are offended it is because you are identified with something that is too small.

    People need to learn the fact that people’s words are a reflection of their own inner state or perspective at that moment and never about you. You can see that a persons words may be a sign of their own deep unhappiness with something in their own lives. Maybe someone just crapped on their cornflakes that morning.

    So if someone says something that causes a person to experience something uncomfortable, in that moment they have a very profound choice. (and there is always a choice even if one chooses not to see such)

    They can choose to see themselves as a victim of another persons words or actions, instantly disempowering themselves and giving the other person the power to disturb their inner landscape, potentially triggering habitual emotional states that prevent them from accessing any higher faculty, either rational or higher to respond in a healthy way to the situation (or even seeing the humor intended in it. Victims have no sense of humor at all).

    Victims of this sort are easily predictable and thus easy to manipulate, hence the reason for creating this mass movement in the first place. (They can also use this position of exhaled victim to righteously stop discussion on anything that makes them uncomfortable, thus ending free speech and pushing forward narrow and punishing policies. Something you will see more of)

    The other choice is to accept what you are feeling as yours, as something that needs to be examined and not acted from, thus keeping your power and being responsible for your own healing and growth.

    There is so much to be said about this topic and its many interconnections with other big issues, but I have blabbered on enough. More some other time..

  76. Claudia February 7, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    My daughter (7) is experiencing problems with her class ‘queen bee’ right now and I’m thinking about this kind of thing. It’s the classic situation where Queen Bee uses her popularity to string along girls like my daughter, sometimes being nice, sometimes being a bully etc. We have talked to the class teacher but the fact is we will never be able to stop this kind of behaviour and really it is down to helping my daughter understand that she shouldn’t mind about the opinions of people who don’t treat other people nicely, and she needn’t care if they don’t like her.

    The lesson certainly shouldn’t be that she must never, ever experience this and should be friends with everyone, that’s just not realistic. Sensitive kids like my daughter end up not being able to stand up to pushy kids because at this age because they probably absorb the message ‘I must be nice to everyone and be friends with everyone’, whereas what she needs to learn is to do is to say ‘I don’t like it when you do that/say that’ and to walk away when she is treated badly, and that this is not ‘being horrible’ it is not allowing people to be nasty to you and showing them firmly that it is wrong.

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