“Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, but Words are Lethal Weapons”

Russell Sage Students to Gain Tools
on Handling Cyberbullying
and Verbal Attacks
at March 15th Event

Dr. Teri Varner says the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” just isn’t true.

“I’ve always disagreed with that phrase because the memory of painful words can be incredibly destructive to one’s self-esteem,” Varner, an associate professor of communication at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, explains. “Today, verbal bullying has taken a new form as we continue to develop Internet sources that can easily spread information. Cyberbullying has become increasingly popular as opportunities for networking increase.”

On Wednesday, March 15, at 1:00 p.m., Dr. Varner will be providing Russell Sage College students with tools and strategies to handle verbal and cyber bullying. Russell Sage is a women’s college. Dr. Varner’s discussion is free and open to the public. It will be held at Bush Memorial Hall, 65 First Street, Troy, on the Russell Sage campus.

Dr. Varner, who is also a United States Army veteran, says bullying is a growing problem in the United States and needs more attention.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 20.8% — or more than one out of five students – report being bullied. However, experts say far more bullying is never reported. The Center for Disease Control reports that the victims of bullying are not the only ones affected. The CDC reports students who engage in bullying behavior are at higher risk for academic problems, substance abuse and violent behavior later in adolescence and adulthood.

Varner says conversations, like the one she will lead at Russell Sage, are an important step in changing student attitudes and awareness about verbal abuse. “It is important to set the standard from early on that bullying cannot be tolerated,” Varner says.

Dr. Varner’s discussion is part of Russell Sage College’s unique general education component, Women Owning Responsibility for Learning and Doing (WORLD), which focuses on the experiences of women as learners and doers in a multicultural society. It includes co-curricular activities such as undergraduate research, internships, and service learning, to provide students with engaging opportunities to further enhance their education.