When I was in seventh grade we moved to Alaska from Idaho. It was a whole new world, and a very small school in comparison to the place I had been. Everyone there knew who I was before I showed up on my first day, because a new student was big news.
Before my first day was over, I was targeted by the seventh grade bully. She walked up to me in the hall after school and said, "I heard you want to fight me." Hmmm... news to me. I told her I didn't want to fight, but I'd oblige her if that's what she wanted. She backed down. And she never bothered me again.
Instead, she moved on to weaker targets. In P.E. one day one of the smaller girls accidentally hit her with a hockey stick in the shins. She started hitting her back until one of her friends stepped in and told her to stop picking on the smaller girl. Later in the locker room, the bully grabbed her friend by the neck and started choking her. We all had to pull her off.
I don't know why she backed off when I stood up to her, but attacked when the other girl did. I guess it doesn't always work. But both of those incidents are forever ingrained in my mind. Which is a glaring example of what kind of damage bullies can do. Not only do they cause a person to live in terror, but they can scar someone emotionally for life.
That's the real damage. Physical wounds usually heal. It's the emotional wounds that hang around long after the bully is gone. And that means that words can do even more damage than anything else.
Don't be a bully. Use your words and actions to build each other up.