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May 7, 2008
Good morning ya'll...

Anyone who knows me personally will tell you how strongly I believe parents, teachers, and coaches have almost too much power. Power that can build or break. Firm is fine, shaming crosses the line. Many years ago, I told one of my son's baseball coaches that he would be remembered for the rest of his life, and it was up to him how he wanted to be remembered.

I receive a newsletter from Character Counts! which is a wonderful organization that addresses ethical behavior and character education. In line with what I stated above, I thought I would share a segment out of the newsletter. Character education is one of the mechanics we must teach which is as important to their success as the ability to know their softball position. Whatever access you have to a child's life, they are watching us...

Have a great day! Ang

The Power of Words 556.1

"Stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Really? In fact, insults, teasing, malicious gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns or knives.

Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across the country, weight, height, looks, and intelligence are the subject of taunting and ridicule even more than race or religion.

And it doesn’t necessarily get better. Unkind words, tasteless personal jokes, brutal criticism, and ridicule don’t lose their sting when we become adults.

There’s nothing new about this. But if we trivialize how damaging words can be, especially to youngsters, the ethical significance of verbal assaults can be lost. When we claim that words can’t hurt anyone, we negate genuine feelings of those who are hurt.

Instead of minimizing the importance of words, we should encourage parents and teachers to demand a higher level of respect and greater sensitivity precisely because words are enormously powerful.

Yes, we should try to fortify our children’s sense of self-worth so they can bear insults and sarcasm better, and we should urge them not to take what others say too seriously. But it’s just as important to teach them that words have the power of grenades and must be used carefully.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Josephson Institute for Ethics.

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