Each January, GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) recognizes a week in honor of “No Name Calling Week”. In an effort to end name calling and bullying in schools, GLSEN draws awareness to improving and recognizing the importance of kindness. Inspired by James Howe’s novel The Misfits, GLSENs’ No Name Calling Week is organized by K – 12 educators and students with motivation to put kindness in action simply through their own actions.
In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicated that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12 – 18 experienced bullying. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9 – 12 reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.
What is bullying? By definition, bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Bullying has no prejudice and it can can consist of verbal, physical, and social bullying. Bullying can also happen anywhere: in school, after school, over social media, through text messaging, on the bus, and on the playground.
Unfortunately, children and adolescents that experience any type of bullying can experience negative physical, social, and mental health problems. Children and adolescents that have been exposed to bullying (whether they are bullied or the bully) are more likely to experience: depression, anxiety, decreasing academic achievement, health complaints, substance use/abuse, increasing violent behaviors, and other risky behaviors into adulthood.
With the growing rates of bullying and the increasing use of social media, it is valuable to recognize the movements, such as No Name Calling Week, that focus on bullying prevention. To prevent bullying, parents, school staff, caring adults, and even students can all play an important role. Each role model can educate children and help kids understand what bullying is, how to safely stand up to it, and get the help they need. It is also important as caregivers, teachers, and adults to improve, increase and keep communication with children and adolescents open. Daily check-ins, active listening, knowing children’s friendships, and understanding concerns are all important. The final — and fun — piece of bullying prevention is helping and encouraging children and adolescents to do what they love, join special activities, and get involved in a hobby. During all of these bullying prevention efforts, the simple task of modeling how to treat others with kindness and respect can be the easiest and most effortless task.
Join the movement and help to stop bullying. No effort is too small to help put kindness in action. Text a friend something kind. Help a neighbor that is struggling. Say thank you to a stranger holding the door open for you. Pick up a co-worker’s or a classmate’s dropped paper. Make a new friend with someone you don’t know. Any of these simple tasks can make a difference in the life of another human being.