Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday's Musing: Sticks and Stones...

We have all heard the old saying,"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

I don't know in what century that saying came about, or even from what planet it originated, but it certainly doesn't apply in any world I've ever known about. Words can be the most hurtful, the most deceitful, and the most powerful tool a human being of any age, sex, religion, creed, or color can have.

Everyone remembers "bullying" from the days of the school playground, when the bigger kid wanted the ball or the hula hoop or whatever somone else...someone smaller or younger...was playing with, so he or she just took it from that kid. Or how about the new kid in school, perhaps from an obviously lower "money" ( socio-economic) class, where the others tease and mock him or her because of the clothes he/she wears...or the accent, or the skin color, or maybe even the religion? Have you ever been in a high school situation, for example, where all the "cool" kids got into the top school organizations, became the cheerleaders or the sports heros, and totally ignored you because you weren't the same 'class' as they were?

That kind of bullying still exists today, of course. But now we have something called "psychological" or "emotional" bullying, and it is just as intense. No, that's wrong. It is far worse, because unfortunately, in many cases, it has led to the death by suicide of the young person it is directed against. It is also the kind of bullying that is often called "cyber-bullying", because of the Internet. Messages are sent to the victim by email, or most often, made very public and visible on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other places where kids gather on the Internet. Sometimes there are even websites devoted to the harrassment and embarrassment of the kid.

Emotional bullying is seen as:
  • Name calling
  • Teasing and mocking
  • Belittling
  • Threats
  • Being ignored or excluded from groups and former friends
  • Use of sarcasm
  • Telling lies about the person
  • Passing along things this person supposedly said about another but didn't
  • Humiliating the person
What effect does emotional bullying have on a child of any age? They can become shy and withdrawn, when before they have been happy and outgoing; they can become depressed, never wanting to go out and play or be with friends, always wanting to stay at home or in their own rooms; and in younger children, they can become bullies to their own siblings, taking out their own feelings of hurt on others.

In Teens, especially, there is a marked difference in their self-esteem; a noticable decline in their academic performance; and a definite change in their attitudes. Teens become sullen and hostile; refuse to have anything to do with parents, siblings, or friends; they choose to isolate themselves from everyone around them by staying at home, often even refusing to go to school, or pretending to go and then skipping out.  In time, they even often have thoughts of suicide, and unfortunately, many carry those thoughts out.

In my newest book, Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters, my main character, AJ Devlin, deals with a kind of emotional/psychological bullying. I don't delve into the darkest effects of this kind of bullying, as I don't like to write "dark," but AJ is on the receiving end of several of the above named bullying efforts. How she deals with it, and the outcome, make this an intriguing book for girls ( and maybe their parents) aged 9 to 14. It is available from my publisher, MuseItUp:
and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For more information about emotional bullying, here are some good links:

Listen to your kids when they complain about being bullied, find out all you can about bullying in all of its phases, and most of all, LISTEN to your kids...and believe them!

Until next time,
That's a wrap.