There’s a common misconception that bullying can only be physical, that the only thing that causes pain is punching someone in the face or pulling their hair. As a result, people are not careful about what they say, and they inflict pain with their words.

Bullying can be verbal too, and very few people realize this.

It starts early. In grade school, little boys tease each other and call each other names. Teachers dismiss it as ‘boys will be boys’. Later on, these same boys have moved on to harsher, more degrading terms.

In their heads, they’re doing the same thing they were doing when they were kids. To everyone else, it’s drastically different. To the victims of the teasing, it’s hurtful and unfair.

Little girls tell stories about how annoying one of their classmates is. In high school those same girls use more serious terms to describe someone they don’t like. It’s the same case, only outsiders are able to see the changes.

Sometimes, the bullies don’t even know they’re causing pain Sometimes they’re just sharing a story with a friend and don’t stop to consider whether the story is true or not. They tell each other things they heard from other people, and somewhere along the line the message is skewed and lies are being spread.

Sometimes the bully may feel that they’re justified. Maybe they’re acting on hatred or revenge, but they may take it too far and inflict unnecessary, unfair pain on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

It is a teacher’s duty to step in early. I say teachers because teachers spend more time with children than their parents do. Additionally, teachers are able to watch children interact with each other, to see how different personalities mix. Nobody can point out a problem like a teacher can.

Problems need to be stopped before they have a chance to turn into nationwide issues. If we can teach children to use kind words, to care for each other, and to defend each other, then we’ll have a society of kind, well functioning teenagers. Maybe, just maybe, depression and suicide rates will decrease if more people are aware of their actions.

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