“Stick and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me” may sound nice in theory, but it isn’t exactly true. While this idiom promotes inner strength when confronted with abuse, it’s not the common reality.
Biting words hurt just as much as physical pain and last much longer; one cannot un-hear a mean comment. (1)
It’s true, what’s often seen as kids toughening each other up can lead to general anxiety disorder and other permanent conditions.
Verbal Abuse Leaves Invisible Scars
Parents who would never consider physically striking a child often find themselves shouting harsh words at their children, whether out of frustration or as discipline.
Research into the long-term effects of such treatment has found that far from positively correcting a child’s behavior. Instead, they work oppositely, fostering depression, aggression, and antisocial behavior.
In fact, a study by the University of Pittsburgh found that participants demonstrated the same psychological effects after a two-year period as children who were subjected to physical abuse. (2)