How to Stop Kids From Calling Each Other Names

January 9, 2015
Text books and pencils in a pencil holder on a desk

“Loser,” “geek,” “gay,” “worthless,” “retard,” “freak.”

Words can lay kids open.
So what can you do when you hear them called these names—or worse? Or when a kid tells you how much they want name-calling to stop?

For No Name-Calling Week 2015, taking place January 19–23, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) offers a host of lesson plans and resources to help you promote respect, inclusion, and acceptance in your elementary, middle, or high school.

Put the spotlight on the effects of bullying and name-calling with activities such as Shirts of Empowerment. With this exercise, students decorate shirts with names they’ve been called or have heard others being called. They then wear the shirts or put them on display in your classroom or cafeteria, being conscious of the effect the words have on others, and how it feels to wear the shirts. Throughout the activity, suggests Christina Bischoff of the University of Arizona, let kids know that although they may not often see offensive words outwardly displayed on clothes, many people still wear labels every day when they’re bullied or name-called.

No Name-Calling Week was created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster, and inspired by a young adult novel called The Misfits by James Howe. The book tells the story of four kids trying to survive middle school in the face of taunts about their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. Spurred by their need to address injustice, they run a student council elections platform aimed at wiping out name-calling, and triumph with a No Name-Calling Day.

Check out how this school in Port Ewen, NY celebrated No Name-Calling Week in 2014:

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