Most of us know the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. However, this statement may not hold true for those of us who have experienced hurtful name-calling. If you have been called names or seen someone who has, you know how damaging these words can be. When it comes to name calling, many teens or children may not understand that name calling is also a form of bullying. They might start out by joking, but calling someone a name with the intent of hurting them is not okay.
Unfortunately, I know firsthand just how much damage name-calling can do. As a child, I experienced name-calling in my primary school years from both my peers and even my professor. Every day it seemed like there was a new insult hurled my way, and it felt like I had no escape from the constant barrage of negativity. Even though it started as jokes, it quickly turned into a form of bullying that left me feeling helpless and alone.
Name-calling is just one form of bullying, but it can be just as damaging as physical or cyberbullying. Verbal bullying can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing, causing low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. And unlike physical bullying, the effects of verbal bullying can often go unnoticed by those around us.
It’s important to recognize that words have power, and the things we say can have a lasting impact on others. That’s why it’s crucial to speak out against name-calling and other forms of verbal bullying. Whether you’re a victim of name-calling yourself or you witness it happening to someone else, it’s important to take action and stand up for what’s right. In my case, my mom tried to talk to my professor about the name-calling, but unfortunately, nothing was ever done to address the issue. This made me feel even more helpless and alone, and I didn’t know where to turn. Fast forward almost two decade later, I’m 26 years old, yet here I am, suddenly finding myself crying over videos about bullying. I thought I was over it. But the cuts of bullying run deeper than I thought. They say that teenhood is pivotal to one’s life. It’s when our innocence begins to fade and we start seeing life’s many colors. It’s when our sense of identity is born, when we discover who we are and what we want to be.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, victims usually blame themselves more than anyone. They blame themselves for being weak, for not being popular, for not looking good enough, for not being white, for not being born to a more privileged side of the world, etc. This is because we grow up in a society that tells us that this is an eat-or-be-eaten world. We grow up in a society that tells us that being weak is a sin, and that nobody else is to be blamed for this but yourself. Never mind that the world is already unequal as it is, that some people are already being discriminated on the basis of their race, color, and gender. What bullies sees as just “having fun” makes people look down on themselves and not see their worth. It breaks confidence, harms reputations, and undermines one’s ability to perform.
The trauma cuts deep and the scars stay for a long time.
Remember the human
Remember the human who’s behind that social media profile. Remember the human who is your classmate and is probably having a hard time making friends. Remember the human who is your neighbor, the one who’s hating himself for having dark skin, acne, and curly hair. Remember the human in your friend who might not have the courage to tell you that he or she is hurting when you jokingly call her fat and ugly. Remember that you are human too.
I was inspired to write this blog after seeing in the news about a young person who suffered bullying. It hit close to home for me, as I too experienced bullying as a child. Watching the video brought back painful memories of the hurtful words and name-calling that I endured, and made me realize just how damaging this kind of behavior can be. That’s why I feel it’s important to speak out against name-calling and other forms of bullying, and to raise awareness about the lasting impact that they can have on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.