During World War II, careless words could lead to needless deaths. A mother chatting in the beauty parlor about her son’s ship leaving San Diego the next day, a spy in the chair next to her – a sub notified, a ship sunk. Posters like this reminded people to watch their words.
Recently school bullying has made the headlines. Careless, cruel words caused several teens to hate their lives so much that suicide seemed the only escape. Needless, heartbreaking deaths.
Bullying has always been with us. How many of us were on the receiving end as children? How many dished it out – and are willing to admit it?
However, technology has made bullying worse. While a bullied child used to be able to retreat to a safe home, now text messages and social media batter them with those careless words all day long.
In addition, our culture has elevated snarkiness to art form. While politicians and celebrities have always been targets for the media, now the common man has the ability to add his own comments. We feel safe mocking the famous – we’ll never meet them in person and see the effect of our words – besides, they knew what they were getting into, didn’t they? And our culture grows meaner.
And so one teen, desperate to be accepted by others, beats another teen up with her words. The others laugh at her clever snarkiness. They join in. The victim slowly dies inside.
How can we stop this? We can refuse to join in the meanness. We can refuse to laugh at snarkiness. We can keep communication open with our children, watching for signs that they’re bullies or victims. Most of all, we can watch our own words vigilantly and teach our children likewise. Words have power. Use them wisely.
How do you recommend we stop this cycle?