Today marks the start of No Name-Calling Week, “an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.” The event was created four years ago by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. It targets grades five through eight, “years when the problem of name-calling is particularly acute, but the concept can be easily adapted by students and educators at other grade levels.”
Name-calling can have tragic consequences, as when a 14-year-old girl in the U.K. hanged herself, allegedly because classmates taunted her for over a year about her fashion sense and supposed lesbianism. Even when its effect is not as dire, there is no excuse for it. It’s all about basic manners. No, we can’t expect children not to tease each other to some extent. We can, however, teach them to recognize when the line is crossed between lighthearted banter where the subject truly doesn’t mind, and harmful insults whose hurt goes deep.
GLSEN has a number of lesson plans, activities, and other resources available for download. If you’re a teacher or want to become involved in creating a more tolerant, accepting, and safer environment in your children’s schools, take a look.