This week while talking about the kids upcoming school year, bullying came up. Unfortunately, it is everywhere it seems. When we talk about this, I can’t help but remember a tragedy we had in our town a couple years ago.

To many it may seem common. To us, it was quite uncommon. We had a young boy, only 14 years old, take his own life.

Having a young teenage grandson, this hit too close to home for me. My heart aches for that young boy. For the pain he endured. For the hurt that went deeper than anyone could see. Although I didn’t know him personally, I knew his family, and my heart grieves for them.

What can we do? How can we stop senseless acts like this before it happens? How did it get to this point? The answer is simple. Words.

He was continually bullied with words. We tell kids that words don’t matter. We say, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” We tell them, “Let them roll off your back.” That is not the truth. Words do matter.  Negative, demeaning words hurt. We can’t always dismiss them, sometimes they go too deep.

The Bible teaches us that words build up or they tear down. They are a blessing or a curse. They are powerful, creative tools. Words matter.

I know what I am talking about. My grandson was bullied for over two years. If it wasn’t for God and praying friends, I don’t know how we would have gotten through it.  At the end of those two years, that boy was so beaten down and sad, it was hard to watch. I will never forget the day I picked him up from school the final time. Tears running down his face, he was so hurt.   That image stays with me.

In our situation, it was tolerated bullying. No one was held truly accountable. Even the teacher who witnessed the words and the threats said to Bryson, “it’s just words, they didn’t mean it.” The truth is, words hurt, and they did mean it. It is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

My grandson is no longer in that environment, and he is a different boy today. Back to the happy, goofy, wonderful child God created him to be.

Make no mistake about it, words matter. Words go deep and they have a lasting effect.

So, then, who is responsible? We all are.

We are responsible to teach our kids and grandkids to be kind to other. And to not only tell them but also to be the example of kindness.

We are responsible to stay connected to our kids and grandkids. To know what is going on in their life. It’s our responsibility to see what they see on social media and video games. We are responsible for what is before their eyes and going in their ears.

It’s up to us to teach them that people are different. People come in all different colors, sizes, and types; love them all equally. We must teach them if there is a kid that is different, be kind, and don’t ever make them feel less than. This. Is. Our. Responsibility. This is our job.

Bullying has been around a long time. And today, with social media, it is at a whole new level. Get online and find out what others are saying about your kids. It may be enlightening.

With iPhone, iPad, and social media, kids often turn to those outlets instead of to their parents. Don’t let that happen in your family. Stay connected. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN and talk to your kids. Be the example of what you want them to be. It’s up to you.

Beyond that, PLEASE, pray for the kids and teenagers in your city. Pray a hedge of protection around them daily. Every kid needs someone praying for them and many do not have that. Pray for them…all of them, keep them before the Lord. He will honor those prayers.

Take every opportunity available to teach your kids the power of words. Make sure they realize their words make an impact…for good or evil. They’re not just words. They are creative weapons, use them for good. Furthermore, make sure you watch the words YOU ARE SAYING to and about your kids – those words go deep – make sure they are positive and not negative. I despise hearing an adult talk negatively to or about their children – it doesn’t say anything to me about the child – but it speaks volumes to me about the parent. Don’t be one of those. Speak kind words. Encouraging words. Positive words Also, don’t allow other adults to treat your children that way – or to talk to and about them in a demeaning manner. Words matter – they build up or tear down – which one are you doing? Which one is your children doing?