Opinion

No Name-Calling Week: Our ignorance is killing us | Johnson

For many of us who grew up in an era where name-calling seemed to be a rite of passage, having a national week dedicated to eradicating name-calling in schools may seem like overkill.

But the stakes are higher now than they have ever been.

Name-calling, harassment, and bullying have taken on new proportions with the help of social media, cellphones, texting, and more.

According to the National Youth Association, for every gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender student who reported being harassed, four straight students said they were harassed for being perceived as gay or lesbian.

Add to that the strong link between bullying and suicide. “Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.”

No Name-Calling Week was created by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) along with Simon and Schuster Children’s publishing, and boasts over 40 national partner organizations.

This year, Jan. 21-25 was identified as a week to focus on these issues. However, materials are available to address this issue at any time.

“The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling and bullying in their communities,” according to nonamecallingweek.org

One point that continues to strike me is that the perception of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender — whether or not it’s actually true — is enough to cause harm, and in some cases, suicide.

Homophobia (fear of or hostility toward people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual), transphobia (fear or hostility toward people who are transgender), and genderism (discrimination of people due to gender and cultural fear of embracing more than two distinct genders) are taking their toll in our society.

These biases have travelled beyond the “personal belief” realm and have become a meme that is endangering our youth. Our ignorance, once again, is killing us.

The website www.nonamecallingweek.org is full of resources for elementary, middle and high school educators, as well as art lessons and promotional items.

Lessons at the elementary level were co-produced with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and include information on what to do if you are being bullied, how to help others who are being bullied, and creating a bully-free building. All resources are free and available for immediate download on the site.

Is your child’s school taking on this project? If not, get involved and engage your PTA and school to recognize this important topic. The lives of our children are depending on it.

 

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