Words Really DO Hurt!

Growing up, we all heard (and used) the phrase "Sticks and Stones." The reality is that the words used against us really do hurt--no matter how old we are. It's time we all do something about this.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words could never hurt me.”

This phrase brings back memories of my days on the playground.  One very vivid memory is of a time when I was on the jungle gym with my best friend, Kelly.  A classmate approached us to say some hurtful things about Kelly and the way she was dressed. I was outraged and hurt for my best friend and the words above are the first words that came to mind. I shouted these from my perch high atop the jungle gym, but the boy who had said the hurtful comments to Kelly just laughed and ran off with his friends. He had done what he set out to do.

Although Kelly never showed it at the time, years later (many years later) she confessed to me how much it hurt when our classmates would make fun of her clothes—many of which were hand-me-downs from older cousins.

Here is another take on this childhood phrase that I think best sums up the reality of what happens when people say hurtful words to one another.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words could never hurt me.”

And this I knew was surely true

And truth could not desert me.


But now I know it is not so.

I’ve changed the latter part;

For sticks and stones may break the bones

But words can break the heart


Sticks and stones may break the bones

But leave the spirit whole,

But simple words can break the heart

Or silence crush the soul.

Herb Warren

When I first read this poem, the words made me pause and think. How many times in my life have I been hurt by someone’s words, a look or a rebuff?

I wish I could say I am never bothered, hurt or offended when this happens to me, but the reality is that whether I am that eight-year-old girl on the playground or the adult in the principal’s office, it really does hurt.

It would be wonderful to live in a world without bullying, put-downs or isolation, but this seems unlikely—at least in my lifetime. In the meantime, I am excited to work with a group of adolescents who recognize this as an issue they want to confront, and are willing to take steps to make a difference.

On Thursday, I will be meeting with the students of Northeast Middle School’s Zero Conflict. These students have all made a commitment to make Northeast Middle School a school where acts of kindness become more prevalent than acts of hatred and bullying.

If your child shares that he/she is being bullied—or if you suspect this is happening—please communicate with your child’s teachers, counselor or administrator. We want all students to feel safe at Northeast.

As always, thank you for your support!

Kim Brandon

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

PaulRevere September 14, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Yep! Those were the days when one could actually face the "heckler". Now, most would "text" such things. Words have been replaced with Pictures.
aristotle September 17, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I disagree completely. Words are words, and nothing more. People will always do and say hurtful things, usually without even knowing it. A harmless statement if read through a sensitive or defensive lense can be hurtful. Stop teaching children to not express themselves fully, instead teach them to be confident. Who cares if someone makes fun of your clothes, they're just clothes. Arming our children with confidence, instead of pandering to destructive insecurities, hurts all of us and stifles a child's emotional maturity. Or, as the saying goes, "get over it!"
Tim September 27, 2012 at 03:43 AM
If words are supposedly so harmless, or 'just words' as you say, then why is it that they're so historically effective from both a positive and negative standpoint? Words are used to persuade, to teach, to motivate, to compliment and to break down---and all of these aspects have positive & negative slants and purposes. I get your point in saying 'word are words', but this thickly glosses over what they really are: the engine of human communication that societies have run on since Adam & Eve; so they cannot just be passed off at every turn like a light breeze. Not every kid has or is brought up with Teflon skin.


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