Walking through the halls I constantly shake my head at the way students speak to one another. They say really hurtful things and don’t realize the impact on what they say to others. This is why I was so excited when I learned about No Name Calling Week. I learned that it is the largest anti-bullying initiative in the country! It gave us a formal week to discuss and engage in prevention and intervention activities within our schools or organizations.
Name calling and bullying has been an ongoing problem within our schools and organizations for years. We can often feel ill-equipped to handle bullying within the confines of the school or organization, and with the explosion of social media, it has become even more difficult to manage.
Youth are exposed to inappropriate behaviors everywhere they go. They are no longer just threatened by bullying in the schoolyard; they’re also threatened by constant name calling and bullying that occurs online. Because they sit behind a computer, tablet, or cell screen, students often don’t realize the implications of their choices on social media.
With the constant barrage of online images and messages in the media, it becomes difficult for youth to learn and discern what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. They are even learning from our politicians (who are supposed to be the role models and representatives of our country) to resort to name calling when something doesn’t go your way.
Our youth need to be aware of their choices and actions on social media, understand how their negative choices and behaviors affect others, and that there are other methods and strategies available to deal with stressful situations instead of resorting to name calling and bullying.
So as educators, how do we begin to teach our youth empathy and digital citizenship so that they don’t resort to name calling and bullying?
Here are a few suggestions on where to start…
- Conduct a Needs Assessment and identify the current name calling, bullying, and harassment issues that are happening in your school or organization.
- Make sure there are rules and expectations set in your group or class. Here is an activity if you need to implement rules and expectations for your students: Expectations, Ground Rules, and Group Agreements: 3 Advisory and S.E.L. Activities
- Consistently enforce and reinforce the rules and consequences for their behaviors.
- Revisit the rules and expectations of appropriate behavior with your youth. Schedule a time periodically to catch up on these rules.
- Make sure there are rules, regulations, and policies to address the identified needs and issues in your school or organization. If there are not, collaborate with administration to make that happen (I know; easier said than done). You can always enlist parents for support and advocacy. They are a great hidden resource.
- Hold staff professional development trainings on how to address name calling, bullying, and harassment. Educators are in the front line and can let you know what is going on in their classrooms.
- Facilitate lessons and activities. No name calling week gives us the perfect opportunity to integrate lessons on name calling into our lesson plans and activities. Topics can include, but are not limited to: using hurtful language, tolerance, sympathy, empathy, verbal abuse, digital citizenship, suicide prevention, and oppression.
- Organize and hold No Name Calling Week in your school or organization. Check out GLSEN’s website for how to’s, information, and activities for No Name Calling week.
- I’ve attended workshops, utilized resources, and facilitated activities they’ve offered since the late 90’s. Their resources are always relevant and comprehensive (Just in case you were wondering, I have no affiliate agreement with this organization).
There are a myriad of reasons why people name call, and none of them are acceptable. Let’s find alternative ways to teach our youth respect for others and how to avoid name calling, bullying, and harassment. This is a great place to start!