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The Folly of “No Name-Calling Week”

by Izzy Kalman (January 2006)January 23 through 27 was designated national “No Name Calling Week.” I don’t think it was the intention of the planners, but No Name-Calling Week will guarantee that anti-bully consultants will keep the money rolling in for years to come.

After a week of being bombarded with the message that names kill, how are they going to handle it when students go back to their usual routines of name-calling. Are they going to think, “I was just called a name. That’s no big deal?” Of course not! They are going to think, “Oh my God, they have no right to call me names!” Kids will be sure to be feeling devastated by insults for a very long time, perhaps the rest of their lives, requiring the work of countless counselors to continue protecting them from the bullies of the world. No Name Calling Week will insure that the anti-bullying movement doesn’t go the way of other fads, but provides their gurus with healthy incomes until retirement.

“Bully” is also an insult

I wonder if “bully” is being included in the list of forbidden insults. The educational and mental health worlds have conveniently ignored the fact that it is not a compliment to call someone a bully.

At my “Turning Bullies into Buddies” seminars, I have participants do an exercise. They are presented with a list of twenty terms. Half of them are things like neurosis, ADHD, psychosis, and obsessive compulsive. The other half is words like jerk, slut, lazy and idiot. The twenty terms are mixed randomly. “Bully” is among them.

Below the list are two columns, labeled “Diagnosis” and “Insult”. Participants are to put the terms in the more appropriate of the two columns. Approximately 98% put the word “bully” in the “Insult” column. Yes, indeed, bully is not a diagnosis; it is an insult. Yet I am willing to wager that not one school participating in the “No Name Calling Week” has forbidden the use of the insult “bully” for the week.

I wonder how many students last week were recipients of heightened censure because they slipped and called someone a name. How many were punished? And did the punishments fit the crime?

A better alternative

I propose a better alternative to “No Name Calling Week” – a Week that would solve the name-calling problem for good. If we are genuinely concerned with kids emotional well being, we should have a “Call Me Names All You Want Week”. Students will be instructed about the brilliance of Freedom of Speech, the Constitutional version of the traditional “Sticks and Stones” slogan. Both staff and students will be allowed to insult each other all they want, with the instruction that if you get upset, you are a fool.

I guarantee you that after a week of laughing their heads off insulting each other, all but the most emotionally disturbed will live out the rest of their lives never again getting upset by names.

Unfortunately, all the anti-bullying consultants – including myself – will have to find a new source of income. I am willing to be the first. There are enough truly serious human problems that need solving to keep me busy for the rest of my life.Related articles


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