Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fallen Angel Seeking Grace

The adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is a myth. Words are harmful and wound deeply. Many people carry emotional scars from careless and hurtful words that are as real as physical scars. Even when these painful words are uttered by people who love us- our spouses, parents, children, or friends- and are quickly followed by apologies, their effects may continue causing pain for years to come. Words intended to sting, delivered by mean people bent on leaving mayhem in their wake, are potentially even more hurtful and permanent. On the one hand, learning to cope with aggressive individuals, mean words, and hurt feelings is a skill that children need to learn. In fact, many former victims say that being bullied in childhood actually helped them to develop strengths they found advantageous later in life. Research confirms this belief: Several studies have shown that victims, in the long run, fare better than bullies. While many bullies end up in prison, victims learn to cope. However, the parent must effectively distinguish between the normal, day-to-day arguing, "stares," and verbal confrontations that characterize many childhood interactions, and actual bullying. In the case of normal childhood disagreements and arguments, the parents should teach the child how to cope. However, if the child is being bullied, other interventions may be necessary, along with the teaching of coping strategies. For example, telling a child to avoid or "stay out of the way" of a person with whom he/she is having difficulty getting along is a good coping strategy. However, with bullying, saying, "Just stay out of his way" is oversimplifying a difficult situation and doesn't work. Many victims, like me, have discovered that any attempt to stay out of the bully's way just makes the bully more determined to pursue the victim.

~Wounded Innocents and Fallen Angels: Child Abuse and Child Aggression by Gregory K. Moffatt, page 164


Shades of Gray said...

"The adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is a myth. "

On the topic of Ona'as Devarim, Dr. Miriam Adahan published a book called "Sticks and Stones", which is now out of print. One can see a preview of parts on Google(1) or order an ebook from the author(2).

Regarding bullying in yeshivos, this was recently discussed in two of Dr. Yael Respler's columns in the Jewish Press(3)


Stubborn and Strong said...

That statement is something you could call myth or truth but expression that supposed to help to get through life. The trick is not to get word inside of you. That statement builds your self-esteem.

Stubborn and Strong said...

I meant 'could not call myth....'

Dune said...

Another coping strategy could be for the parent to teach the child that or for the person who has experienced it to understand that a person constantly percieves present as epilogue or rather that present extends until epilogue. That is, whatever situation or frame of mind a person finds himself/herself in, the person always assumes or percieves that this is the way things will always be. In point of fact, this is almost never the case. So the parent should try to ingrain in the child that whatever current feeling, frame of mind, or situation the child currently finds him/herself in, is not forever and will not always be thus; even though this is the naturalway for a person to feel - that whatever exists in the present will always be thus...continued...

Dune said...

Furhtermore, I am not sure that ignoring is the correct advice to give a child regarding a bully. Perhaps it is different for girls. However, for a boy my advice would definitely be to retaliate in kind. And that if he got in trouble for retaliating in kind then I would not be upset with him and I would be very proud of him. I suspect thatthis seems wrong, and perhaps I am wrong, but I don't think so. Not only is it not good for the victim, but as is being described in this article, it is not good for the bully to go through life either not empathizing with people, or thinking that it's okay or not hurtful or not a big deal to bully people. So, not only would I teach my son to "hit back" as it were but I would teach him that if he were to see anyone else being bullied even if it doesn't include him then he should attack the bully and bully the bully in the same way that the bully is bullying (say that 3x fast lol), and that if he were to do so and get in trouble with the school or teacher, that I would be very proud of him nevertheless and he would not be in trouble with me. Is this the correct approach? I think and feel so. As for girls I am not sure though, but for boys I'm pretty sure this is the correct way.

Anonymous said...

from Rifkah Schonfeld, Director of SOS (Strategies for Optimum Student Success):

"Hitting and threatening are types of bullying which are common to boys in particular. Gossiping and the taking of personal belongings are common for girls."

SOURCE: Beating the Bully by Rifkah Schonfeld, Director of SOS (Strategies for Optimum Student Success), March 2008, Country Yossi Magazine, page 118.

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