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