I am sure your mind raced ahead and you finished the above heading before you even realised you had. This saying has been around for decades, one I myself was taught and raised hearing more often than not. I recall even using it when in the playground as a young child in South Africa.
The saying went like this for those who are new to it:
“Stick’s and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
How this has changed. As a little girl who used to ride her bike around the streets of the neighborhood in South Africa I remember yelling this out to those pesky boys as I rode off. Feeling invincible! Now, this saying seems almost silly, stupid and irrelevant even……. backwards!
I often sit across from your people who are struggling with what has been said to them either directly or indirectly through a social media forum. A forum which we have limited if no control over!
A parent’s, teacher’s and schools nightmare!
I never even knew what Facebook was until I arrived in Australia, I did not even have my own mobile phone. The day I received my Nokia ‘brick’, at the age of 14, I was so excited. This was a time when the game ‘snake’, where you pressed the numbers, 2,4,6 and 8 to ensure it never touched the walls of your screen and thus the game ended, was the highlight of having a phone. Where sending a message meant pressing all the buttons multiple times until the letter you wanted appeared, then having to wait if you need a letter from that same number again ………..a camera?? what phone had a camera! I even remember the craze of the flip phones, the idea that you could flip it open when it rang and that was cool! I was cool!
How times have changed!
Now more often than not I find myself, as a teacher after 11 years, involved in daily conversations with our young people. Their ages ranging from 10 to 17 year, about the impact a few words or an image can do have when sent through these devices.
Forums can be anonymous, instagram is no longer just photos and this is just two of the many social media forums available to our young people!
You can be recorded at any time day or night, your messages can never be deleted, your words are now in the ‘ether’ forever. That photo you never meant to take, the words you were never meant to type, the forum you joined or the snapchat of your friend you laughed at….. all at the tip of our young peoples fingers. The ramifications of all of these are immense!
I think this vulnerability is new to some of us, myself included and I would not say I am old. Technology has just move forward at a pace I am sure many of us are unable to even comprehend.
I suppose it is about educating ourselves, spending the time getting to know what the forums are and how they work. Just the other day I asked my 13 year old to give me a quick tutorial on how snap chat worked. While this was in fact for me to learn I also was able to see/monitor her snap chat. A quick glance at it anyway.
I frequently see students who hide their phones and make up fake accounts all so they can be accepted and seen as normal by their peers. This is scary as a teacher and even more so as a parent of a young teen!
Its being aware, being educated and knowing what is out there that will enable you to keep an eye on your young people! It is important to do this as from what I have seen and heard over the past few years would shock you! The level of manipulation, bullying, harassment and even impersonating young people to gather information is very real.
A touch of a button, a photograph, a few words and a young persons life can be changed forever!
I think the times have shaped this saying and it should read;
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may forever hurt me.”