Last week was No Name Calling Week in schools across the country, the Baltimore Sun reports. Created by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, the initiative aims at making bullying, harassment, and name-calling unacceptable through public education campaigns.
Students took part in a variety of activities, including signing pledges, watching videos, creating banners, and studying a book, The Misfits by James Howe. The novel tells the story of four friends trying to survive seventh grade in the face of taunts dealing with weight, height, and intelligence, among other things. More than 4,000 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated, said Michelle Sims, spokeswoman for the education network. “We targeted students in grades five through eight, but we found that it was embraced by other grade levels.”
Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in U.S. schools, says the Women’s Educational Media, a national group based in San Francisco that is an advocate for social change through films. A survey cited on the organization’s Web site says that 66 percent of children are teased at least once a month, and nearly one-third are bullied at least once a month. Also, six of 10 U.S. teens witness bullying at least once a day. For children in grades six through 10, nearly one in six, or 3.2 million, are victims of bullying each year, and 3.7 million are bullies.