- Views & Opinions
Thousands of schools across the country are celebrating the 10th anniversary of GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week this week, an annual event during which educators emphasize kindness and compassion as a means to eliminate name-calling and bullying of all kinds.
“GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week provides schools with an opportunity to engage students in a dialogue about how they can play a role in addressing name-calling and bullying,” GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard said. “Over the past 10 years, No Name-Calling Week has reached tens of thousands of K-12 classrooms and become an established part of the school calendar. It is heartening to see schools embrace positivity as an important component of bullying prevention – celebrating kindness and fostering a culture of respect.”
Schools participate in a variety of ways but usually incorporate lesson plans and activities found on nonamecallingweek.org, such as writing classroom name-calling policies, encouraging students to sign a pledge to be kind to each other, and creating a No Name-Calling Week Creative Expressions Exhibit.
No Name-Calling Week was inspired by the popular young adult novel “The Misfits” by author James Howe. The book tells the story of four students who have each experienced name-calling and who decide to run for student council on the platform of creating a No Name-Calling Day at school.
Together with “The Misfits” publisher Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, GLSEN created No Name-Calling Week in 2004 to encourage schools to dedicate a week of the year to improving school climate. Since then, No Name-Calling Week has grown into one of the largest bullying-prevention initiatives in the country. The program is designed for use at all grade levels.
“I’m incredibly proud of what GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week has been able to accomplish,” said Howe, who wrote a blog post for GLSEN in the voice of one of “The Misfits” characters celebrating the 10-year anniversary. “It’s been an honor to see an idea in one of my books spark a conversation in thousands of schools about how young people can learn to respect each other’s differences. I look forward to the day when bullying and name-calling are no longer a problem in our nation’s schools.”
According to “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America,” a 2005 Harris Interactive report commissioned by GLSEN, 47 percent of middle and high school students identified bullying, name-calling or harassment as a somewhat or very serious problem at their school. Additionally, 65 percent of middle and high school students reported being verbally or physically harassed or assaulted in the previous year because of a personal characteristic. Nearly a third of these students who were assaulted or harassed said that school staff did nothing in response when the incident was reported.
In GLSEN’s “Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States,” 75 percent of elementary school students reported that students at their school are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity. Most commonly this is because of students’ looks or body size, not being good at sports, how well they do at schoolwork, not conforming to traditional gender norms/roles or because other people think they are gay.
GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week is supported by the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, comprised of more than 60 national partner organizations including the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the American School Counselor Association and the National School Boards Association.