Editorial: Stopping a deadly weapon

Mar. 05, 2013 @ 06:36 PM

For as long as children have been around, two things have changed little.

They will and do pick on one another. And they are also resilient.

Earlier this week, Ashley Mills paid a visit to three campuses in the Vance County Schools system. She’s the reigning Miss North Carolina USA.

She’s also a surviving victim of bullying.

Her presentation to students was delivered effectively. She had a personal story of her troubles, she had jaw-dropping statistics and she had some advice. She also brought plenty of compassion, and her charming smile put even the edgiest at ease.

She asked for action in the form of a pledge.

Her best line was debunking a well-intended myth told by adults for years.

“You’ve heard the saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” Mills said. “Well, that’s a lie.”

Mills’ direct conversation to her audience shifted gears ever so slightly as she sternly warned, “Words are a deadly weapon.”

Adults, for centuries, have tried to help children being bullied. Unfortunately, sometimes responses they encourage only make situations worse.

It is important to remember, bullying isn’t limited to children; adults can be bullies, too.

Peer pressure isn’t solely to blame, but youth enjoy the camaraderie of groups. And often, being in a group means to keep someone else out.

And bullying can be the result.

Mills warned of the 80-percent rule — the percentage of people who are bystanders, doing nothing while others are bullied. The disconnect, she said, is for all of us to realize the seriousness of the situation.

“Embrace diversity,” Mills said. “Being bold and standing up for someone else is what is cool.”

We would also add a tip from the Stop Bullying Now website. Help others, and help them often, not just in a situation where they are being bullied. Chances are, paying a good deed forward will have tremendous affect on the mind. And it lessens the feeling of others not liking us.

We applaud Mills and her mission to help the youth of our state. As she confirmed, if it helps just one, it is well worth the effort.