When I was a kid, I was free range. I got hurt a LOT as I was one of the risk takers. I got used to opening the door (that was never locked) and calling Mom to come patch me up. See she did not like when I dripped blood on the floor. Some times I was 40% ouchie... These days if I showed up to school every day with a different part of me bruised or bandaged Children's Services would have been called. Back then no one gave it two thoughts. Teachers where smart enough to realize I was doing stupid and risky things in the play yard as well and realized it was all on me.
Then by the time I was in grade 7 things started to change. Before that if you punched out a bully nothing happened. After that they labelled you violent and you got detention - with the same bully that started it all. By the time I was out of high school, it was you got suspended if you fought back. Now all you have to do is show up with a 2 inch long plastic gun and they kick you out of school for good.
The days of "it will sort it's self out" are long gone now. I have to say that the bullying thing is worse now than ever. The tighter they where on kids fighting back the most that people got bullied. The thing that was keeping the assholes in check is not gone and they are free to do as they please.
Words do hurt kids who don't know how to respond and react. When you take away the only means of response, you make it 10 times worse. When you punish them for defending themselves, you teach them that it's OK for people to hurt them.
But what do I know...