Archive for June, 2014

Normally when I reference another post, I’ve got something to add.  In this case there is nothing more to say other than READ THIS.  I have followed Leigh’s blog (incaseimgone) for quite some time and she is always insightful and very thought provoking.  I hope sharing this will allow you to think about how you in your life can help improve the world we live in by making changes to stop the situations she refers to.  Especially if you are a man and reading my blog, take the time to understand what Leigh has to say on this topic and make sure you and the people you influence in your lives, children and other men, get it.

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Stupid.  Idiot.  Many of us can probably relate.  When you were growing up, was there a time when someone called you a name?  How did that make you feel?  As a kid I was one of the smarter ones in the class and that earned me several new names like dork, smarty pants or worse.  As an adult sometimes it still happens in more subtle ways when someone feels threatened or intimidated because they perceive they do not measure up in some way.  When on the receiving end, it is not always possible to understand the motivation, but if you have been on the giving end and you look back later, I’d venture to guess whenever you lashed out with a word, it was because you in some way felt inadequate at the time and you hoped the word would cause some pain.

I was certainly raised in the time when we all heard that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you.  However, unless or until you develop a pretty thick skin most of us also learn to understand that is not totally true.  As a parent, from time to time I hear of some of the kids being picked on at school or sometimes picking on each other.  For those instances at home when I witness it we certainly correct the behavior and let them know it is wrong and in all cases it was again a case of one lashing out to cause some pain.  I wanted to share a project that took place in May called Weapon of Choice, and the images that accompany this post are from a site that is raising awareness of verbal abuse.  What if words really did cause visible scars?  What if being called a name was just as bad as being punched in the face by that kid you were upset with and left you with a black eye?  Would it change our behavior, or at least make it more visible?  I’m not sure, but this artistic project certainly takes an interesting spin on the subject.  I’d encourage you to visit at www.hurtwords.com and see some more of the images, read the stories, and do some soul searching of your own on how we treat each other.

As with any resource some people take things and re-purpose them for their own means.  I’ve seen a few articles referencing bullying use these images as well, and I find it interesting that the site itself does not use that reference.  I fall into the camp that understands that bullying and name-calling are two different things.  Name-calling can be a tool a bully uses, but I think it is very dangerous to say a name-caller is a bully.  I also find it ironic that in doing the latter we become a name caller ourselves, even though we self-righteously think it is justified.  Is labeling someone a bully any different than labeling them a dork?  I know I might ruffle some feathers here with all the political correctness and such, but if you objectively think about it, we should always beWeapon_choice-159_SLUT-e9be42789e careful what words we slap people with.

For me bullying has always been more than name calling, and it is always more than a single or even handful of events.  A true bully sets out to systematically cause distress to someone, be it emotional or physical.  Again because, unlike what the Weapon of Choice project so arrestingly demonstrates, words do not cause visible marks a bully may use them as their weapon of choice, but it is the constant, repeated and unrelenting nature of the incidents that make that individual a bully.  We need to be careful to not knee jerk to labeling everyone who uses a name a bully as we seem to be moving closer and closer towards as a society.  Our kids are not well served by not being taught that there will be people who say or do mean things to them.  As parents we should make certain we help our children understand that and to get the different between the name-caller and the bully and to then appropriately deal with the effects.

More importantly giving them the understanding that verbal abuse, whether taken to the level of bullying or not, is a very hurtful thing to do.  Examples of how it feels when they are called something by someone need to be turned around to teach them to empathize with how someone else would feel if they are doing that.  I was at our kitchen table the other day and Jan was sharing a story about one of the teachers at their school and the “name” she believes she started for him amongst the other students.  It is not one of the words used in the project, just a goofy twist on the teacher’s last name, but it was certainly meant to be derogatory.  After a short while letting her proceed I just calmly chimed in and let her know that she needs to hope that no one finds the kind of Weapon_choice-027-Edit_STUPID-cafda5e076humor she has found in labeling this teacher and instead label her.  Will it sink in?  Maybe not, but as parents we must try or we will continue to make it more and more acceptable to just go on tossing worse and worse labels on people.  Projects like Weapon of Choice are terrific because they start a dialogue.  I hope it causes you to start one of your own.