Founded in 2004 with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and funded by GLSEN, No Name-Calling Week was inspired by James Howe’s novel The Misfits about students who, after experiencing name-calling, run for student council on a No Name-Calling platform. Today, the campaign takes on many forms depending on the ages of students at each school.
For OPS, and because this is also the week after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, No Name-Calling Week is focusing on raising awareness about stereotypes. Participating classes may choose to read a story, show a video, or do an activity designed to foster a conversation about the many stereotypes we all learn from the incessant messages inherent in various media received daily, and instead celebrate our uniqueness as individuals.
Research shows children start to apply race stereotypes and gender stereotypes as early as three years old. While it's normal for humans to categorize things in order to make sense of the world, categorizing people has been shown to have significant negative effects for both the labelled and the labeler. Studies have consistently found that when negative stereotypes are addressed immediately and in the moment, the impact of the stereotype is minimized on all involved. When coupled with language and activities that celebrate individual differences, "identity-safe" environments can be cultivated.
Please be sure to ask your children about how their class is celebrating No Name-Calling Week. At home, take the time to point out whenever you hear or see examples on TV, radio, the internet, in stores, or from others that either perpetuate or counteract stereotypes. Raising awareness about stereotypes is an important first step to ridding our society of these labels and limitations. After all, it's impossible to label others without also limiting ourselves. And when it comes to our children, limits is not something we ever want them to feel.
All blog posts written by Rima Mason, MA, LPC unless otherwise noted.
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