My son was bullied at school this past week. He’s only nine years old. He’s still in this wonderful stage of life where he’s rambunctious yet sweet, demanding yet compromising, naïve yet growing more aware of the larger world we all live in. The words spewed at him were harsh- spoken loudly in the lunchroom at school. “I hate you!” Undertones of “I want to kill you” pierced like a knife. What caused this conflict is of no consequence now. It goes back to an incident of more than six months ago. Let’s just say my son and his good friend at the time had a “falling out.” It is obvious this young man has never forgiven or forgotten what happened. I’m truly sad for my son. Bullying has been such a huge topic in the news, in schools, and in my own social circles. Now it has invaded our personal space at home. Last weekend I sat sympathetically at our synagogue as many parents extolled their views on bullying today. I listened quietly feeling fortunate that neither of my kids had ever been the victim of anything as serious as the stories I was hearing. I remembered my own childhood, having been bullied by some of the kids who lived in my neighborhood. They screamed virulent words about me outside of my house, advertising a nasty persona of a teenage girl who didn’t describe me at all. I felt violated, raw, depleted, and worthless. These people who hardly knew me had massacred something more important than life itself, in the eyes of a thirteen year old, my identity. So here I sit grieving for my son’s own loss – hearing the words that once shamed my own soul and hearing the words that left him feeling sick and injured. As a parent you want to protect your children from ever having to experience this. Today it’s worse because of social media and the ever constant presence and predominance of digital communication in teenager’s lives. We must teach our children well! There will always be bullies and the bullied. Thank goodness my son told me about the incident, and didn’t revert into a self-deprecating, reticent state. The bullying behavior can be stopped; perhaps old grievances can be aired and words of apology can be expressed. Two injured souls may be able to mend and more importantly learn how words can truly hurt.