In high school, I was terribly thin and not in an attractive way. As a result, I was called a lot of names. From "diving board" and "a blade of grass" to "chicken legs" and "splinter," my nicknames ran the gamut. For the most part, I was able to roll with the name-calling and not let it affect me too much. And yet 30 years later I can recall every single name, who said it, and why.
Think about it. Were you called names in school? Do you still remember those names? Most experts would say you probably do. In fact, a name is powerful thing. That's why we spend so much time deciding what we will name our children. So when someone attaches a name to you that has a negative connotation or insults you in some way, it's hard not to let it get to you.
Of the six types of bullying, some researchers believe that name-calling and other types of verbal bullying is perhaps the worst type of bullying. It attacks the person's identity and attempts to redefine who they are. Kids who are called names also struggle with self-esteem, become introspective and withdrawn. And some even contemplate suicide. There is no denying that name-calling can have some pretty disastrous results.
For this reason, many schools, including my daughter's middle school, celebrated No Name-Calling Week (NNCW) this week. This annual week of educational activities is aimed at ending name-calling and bullying.
NNCW was inspired by James Howe's young adult novel The Misfits. In the book, four best friends are trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts, name-calling and bullying based on their height, weight, intelligence and sexual orientation.
The long-term goal of programs like NNCW is to empower bystanders by creating an atmosphere at school where students will not stand by and watch another student being bullied. The hope is that the majority of the student population will frown on name-calling and kids will feel comfortable enough to take action if they witness bullying.
Did your child's school or your workplace celebrate no name-calling week? Do you think programs like this are effective in encouraging victims to report bullying? Send me an e-mail or connect with me on Twitter.
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