Words can hurt, too

December 02, 2008|By RACHAEL JOHNSON / Pulse correspondent

Rachel Joy Scott was a 17-year-old high school junior when she died on April 20, 1999. She was the first victim in the Columbine shootings, the worst high school shooting in America's history.

When she was alive, her goal was to spread kindness and compassion. In her essay, "My Ethics, My Codes of Life," Rachel once wrote, "I have a theory that if one person can go out of there way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

We need to notice the chain reaction verbal violence can start.

Did you know weapons are used every day in schools? Not guns or knifes, but words. Verbal abuse happens every day among students at schools all over the world, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center's Web site Almost 30 percent of teens in America (or more than 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying, the site reports, either as bully or a target of bullying. In some cases they are both.


A recent national survey of students in grades six to 10, 13 percent confessed to bullying others and 11 percent reported being the target of bullies, the site reports. Another 6 percent said that they bullied others and were bullied themselves.

When interviewing students at Martinsburg North Middle School I saw how bad this epidemic really was. Nearly every student I spoke to said they had bullied people.

"No one cares about being kind in school anymore," said Barbara Kennedy, 15, said. "It's not like they get in trouble. We see other people doing it so it's natural reaction to bully back, starting a chain reaction."

Rachel Scott should influence everyone. Teens and tweens must learn compassion. Together, we can start a chain reaction to improve lives.

Words can soothe or words can be the seeds of violence. Words bring great pain to students. If you were to talk to a teens now, they would be likely to tell you of many words they hear every day that should not be spoken. However, you can help.

If you go into any school in the United States you would probably hear things that should never be said being screamed though the halls. These words bring nothing but pain and suffering. Physical scars heal. But emotional pain can last throughout life. Words can cause an emotional pain that is difficult to explain to those who have not experienced it.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Much of today's youth consider that saying a lie. Words are more painful then we are lead to believe. Boards of education say they try prevent school violence by enforcing zero tolerance for bullying. But, honestly there's not much that they do.

Harmful words plant the seeds of the tree of violence. Almost all fights in schools can be traced back to "she said this" or "he said that." This has been the root of many school shootings. The worst part is innocent people are caught in the cross fire.

People just like Rachel Scott.

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