Verbal bullying is often considered less dangerous than physical bullying; however, the repercussions can be just as harmful. Verbal bullying may consist of any of the following:
- name calling
- put downs
- mimicking others
- verbal threats of physical violence
In younger children, such bullying may begin as a game of name calling when one child is angry at another. As others join in, the “game” may advance to constant teasing or incessant gossip. Girls are more apt to partake of verbal bullying than boys. The danger of going down this road is that it can easily lead to a “cat fight” or other physical violence.
Verbal bullying can have a detrimental effect on a child, especially if he or she is already suffering from shyness or low self-esteem. Bullying separates children from their peers, making them feel unworthy, less attractive and unwanted. Grade school is a time when kids are developing their mental, social and emotional skills. Being the subject of verbal abuse can easily destroy a child’s self-confidence and enthusiasm to learn and grow. Rather than physical harm, verbal bullying can hurt children emotionally and spiritually for many years to come.
Facing attacks of verbal abuse can be especially detrimental to adolescents in their efforts to find “where they belong.” The adolescent years can be confusing and difficult enough without teens being subjected to verbal taunts from fellow students or being ostracized by their peers. Parents of teens should make every effort to help and support their young people during the difficult high school years. Those who are victims of verbal bullying may need extra encouragement, understanding and positive reinforcement to help them overcome these mental attacks and succeed in achieving their academic goals.