Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
This is something we were encouraged to say and live by as children.
How naive are the adults who forced us to believe that there was something wrong with feeling hurt by words? And how ignorant for them to further teach us that being teased and bullied was okay, that it was part of life; it was a norm.
Instead children are taught to be strong – be stronger and rise above.
What does this then create? Another bully.
Are we not in turn raising a generation of potential bullies who will spew insults as an affirmation of strength and power?
It is fact that what we are taught as children, is what we will teach our children.
So will we teach them that they should be strong in the face of hurtful words and not feel?
It has been an emotional few weeks having to relive the scars I buried.
As a child, I too was a victim of bullying and I don’t know what I would have done, had I not had a strong support that taught me to have a strong sense of self-worth.
That does not mean it did not hurt. And I was allowed to feel hurt.
I am sure many can relate to the series thus far as I am sure we all have been subjected to bullying in some way or another. Too often it is accepted as a norm.
We see it on TV and in books and all around us, slowly educating impressionable minds that bullying is okay.
So what do we do about it? How do we educate them and how do we break the cycle?
I did so by believing I had more than just the labels attached to me.
It would be farfetched to believe that any single person can forever put and end to the cycle that is bullying, but what we can do is start at home.
More importantly, we should learn to recognise bullying both when we are perpetrators or victims thereof and realise that bullying is not limited to adolescence and childhood.
It can exist in the workplace as well.
For some it may be more difficult, but to my bullies throughout high school and primary school, I would like to say:
You have not defined me – you have strengthened me.
You have not broken my spirit.
I will not give you power over me, because I have risen above the torment and the negativity to be more than your opinions.
Sticks and stones will break my bones and your words will no longer emotionally break or hurt me.
It has been a moment of true revelation to see just how many people are affected by bullying and how differently it affects everyone.
One of the most important matters to note is that the community, be it the school class or people at work, endorses the humiliation of others as a means of entertainment.
Let us be conscious of this the next time we find comments about another humorous, because when we take away the bully’s power, we could save someone from a life of torment by simply ending a minute of humiliation.