Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sticks And Stones #WordsCanHurt

Growing up I was sometimes on the receiving end of hurtful words.  I was teased for speaking Spanish, wearing the wrong shoes, and packing my lunch.  When I was older some of peers seemed to have figured out (even before I fully did) that I was different and words like "dyke" were launched at me.  Those words stuck with me.

I also found myself on the other side of hurtled insults.  I'm not proud of it, but I did find myself caught up in the social dynamics of middle school and I said things I regret.  Those words have stuck with me, too.  Even with a heartfelt apology, you can't take back words that caused someone pain.  

Now, as a parent I know that Leo and Zoe will most likely face situations where name calling and bullying are present.  Will they be the ones being bullied?  Will they participate in the name-calling?  In these early years of their lives I hope we are laying a good foundation so that when those situations present themselves they make good choices.  They choose not to call others names.  They choose to stand up for those being attacked.  They choose to tell an adult when bullying happens.  

GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) has named this week No Name Calling Week.  It's a week aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.  There are free resources available for download on their website.

Do you have school age kids?  Ask their school if they are participating.  Maybe print out some of the resources to share with them.  Leo and Zoe have a few years before they begin school - but seeing so many schools participate really makes me hopeful that bullying will not be ignored in our schools any longer.  I like the message behind this program because it's pro-active.  We could stop bullying before it happens if we can pass on the lesson it's based on: think before you speak.

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