The informant first heard this phrase in elementary school in the fourth grade. She was being teased by a sixth grader about being in the G.A.T.E. program for gifted and talented students. The boy called her a geek and a nerd so she came back to class after recess sad and near tears. Her teacher, Mrs. Clark, approached her and asked her what was wrong. When she retold the story, Mrs. Clark told her, “Whenever people say mean things to you or about you, just remember: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This cheered the informant up a lot and she remembered it whenever she got saddened by others’ harsh words. Instead, she learned to take those mean words and used them to build her own character to become a stronger person. She believes that this saying is appropriate for such situations, when sad people need cheering up after being scolded or teased, and she continues to tell younger kids the same thing, knowing that it can help them as it did her.
Unlike many would initially think, kind and inspirational words such as these are not always effective unless the person saying them makes them so. For example, in the informant’s case, the person saying them was her teacher, someone she could trust and believe in. Often times it takes someone else to help someone understand the importance of self-esteem and confidence. I believe that if it hadn’t been a person she trusted who said these words, the informant might not have been as influenced by them. Therefore, this proverb is retold by people who truly mean the words and have the intention of helping a person in need of happiness. People, in return, want to share the happiness they experienced with others, so they share what others have shared with them.