Snip of the tongue

When you are angry it is better to stop and think before reacting rather than use curse words that can hurt friends.

Published: 16th February 2012 12:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:56 PM   |  A+A-

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If we were to imagine our lives the format of a TV sitcom, the most heard sounds would be insane laughter from the audience and loud beeps at strategic points in the narrative for we have a great fondness for profanity. We have begun increasingly to resort to cuss words when faced with the task of articulating our emotions. We’d sooner blurt out an expletive in anger and frustration, in sadness, or even in appreciation of something, than find appropriate qualifiers of our experience. As much as swearing seems to offer relief from built-up tension, it can cause more harm than good in the long run.

Throwing around foul words in school with the intention of causing humiliation to a classmate constitutes a nasty form of verbal bullying and can invite unpleasant consequences in the form of negative evaluation by teachers and even suspension. Students run the risk of being labelled with a negative tag if caught using profane language against others. Such isolated incidents are enough for many to run out of favour with teachers — even though they have an impeccable academic record.

Cussing creates a negative impression of an individual who may be considered to be lacking in social skills. Very often when we experience a strong emotion, instead of taking a moment to think we react instantly and end up using profanities. This difficulty with self-control can be misconstrued as lack of civility and surely we can do without the added burden of a judegmental assessment by our peers and teachers.

If you have ever been at the receiving end of an insulting slur made by a classmate you already know the toxic effects that swearing lends to the general school environment. A culture of cussing at friends and teachers creates a hostile, alienating and threatening climate and this greatly interferes with students’ peace of mind and eventually the learning process. One of the least desirable effects of swearing, however, is that one does not learn healthy ways to express their feelings and thoughts.

Enriching one’s emotional vocabulary to verbalise both negative and positive emotions can lend more meaning and significance to one’s experience. Use of inoffensive, alternative words to communicate your reason for being upset with a situation or a person can reduce the need to use expletives.

Developing appropriate strategies to tolerate frustration in difficult situations and to manage anger effectively can facilitate coping rather than cussing.

Reach out to like-minded friends that you trust and form a ‘buddy system’ in which each supports the other in challenging instances such as dealing with a difficult teacher or an annoying classmate, and keep each other from losing their cool and giving in to cursing.

Avoiding the person who is the cause of your anger is a great and simple way to contain your bad mood. Art, music, dance, and even playing can promote a positive frame of mind. Any kind of physical exertion helps dissipate angry energy.

It is very important to remember that you aren’t told not to swear by your parents and teachers just because they enjoy doling out advice to you.

Use of slang and foul language hardly seem like a crime to people who engage in it but for the person who is subjected to this, it constitutes verbal abuse, which is a serious matter that many schools are aware of and are increasingly becoming intolerant of.

Let’s make a commitment to contribute towards a safe and welcoming school atmosphere in which differences between people on the basis of backgrounds, opinions and ideas are celebrated and respected.

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