Bullying has been a popular topic in the news circuit this past year since the First Lady, Melania Trump, has chosen to use her platform to speak out against childhood bullying.
The Fight Against Bullying Gains a Spotlight
Many critics of the administration believe this stance is a contradiction of the President’s behavior. Nonetheless, the First Lady launched her campaign this fall by speaking at the United Nations and visiting schools throughout the United States to discuss the significance of the issue of bullying.
“We must turn our focus right now to the message and content children are exposed to on a daily basis through social media – the bullying, the experience online and in person,” said Melania Trump to the UN in September, “As adults we are not merely responsible, we are accountable. I hope you will join me in recommitting ourselves to teaching the next generation to lead and honor the golden rule, do unto others as you would have do unto you.”
Why Bullying Matters
The First Lady is committed to a worthy cause since the statistics surrounding bullying are quite shocking.
The vast majority of students today are bullied. In fact, 77% of students are bullied verbally, mentally and physically. Another way of thinking about this is that every 7 minutes, a child is bullied.
Only 4% of the time, an adult intervenes. Only 11% of the time, a peer intervenes. Most often, 85% of the time, no one intervenes.
Bullying over social media or online, known as cyberbullying, is also growing rapidly. 43% of students experience cyberbullying.
1 in 5 students admit to being a bully or committing some sort of “bullying” act.
The affects of bullying are apparent and can be very severe. Each day, 160,000 students miss a day of school in fear of being bullied. And even more worrying, the link between suicide and bullying is strong.
According to a study at Yale University, students who have experienced bullying are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than those who have not experienced bullying.
And for young adults, suicide is a serious issue. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people, which results in approximately 4,400 deaths per year.
However, for every suicide amongst young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. The statistics of young people who have considered or attempted suicide are shocking. 14% of high school students have considered suicide while nearly 7 percent have attempted it.
Self-harm is not the only concern when it comes to bullying. 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in school. 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them”.
With these statistics in mind, the fight against bullying seems critical to the long-term health of the young people in the United States. Like the First Lady, many people are eager to do something to make an impact on this pervasive issue.
Luckily, this upcoming week, students around the nation will participate in a program designed to fight bullying: No Name-Calling Week.
Bringing an End to Bullying with No Name Calling Week
No Name-Calling Week was created in 2004 by Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing, and evaluated by GLSEN research. The week takes place from January 15-19 in the year of 2018.
According to 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.”
No Name-Calling Week is put on by Kindergarten–12th grade educators and students. GLSEN provides resources and lesson plans that they encourage to be used in the classroom.
Examples of these lesson plans include Beauty is Skin Deep in which, “elementary students explore their experiences with name-calling based on physical appearance.” Or an exercise entitled I Was Just Kidding in which, “students are asked to consider the difference between good-natured teasing and bullying through discussion of fictional scenarios and reflection on real-life situations.”
Some of the lessons involve arts and crafts as well. In a lesson called Garden of Kindness, “students create a classroom or school-wide display to demonstrate their commitment to kindness.” And an even more artistic lesson called Poetic Reactions prompts, “elementary students [to] express their feelings regarding name‐calling using an artistic form of poetry.”
If you are a student or educator, you can register for No Name-Calling Week on GLSEN.com! There are a couple of other very exciting ways you can get involved.
You can submit a #KindnessinAction art to GLSEN’s Creative Expressions Exhibit. This artwork, focused on bullying, “has the power to chance the school climates for the better.”
Additionally, you can pass a proclamation in your area and have students sign the pledge. This proclamation will not only show that you’re against name-calling, but will also show what names you want to be called.
However, if you are neither an educator nor a student, you can still get involved! This year, No Name-Calling Week is focused on #KindnessinAction, which has been created to “not merely recognizing the importance of kindness, but actively adding kindness into our every action.”
You can text KIND to 21333 to send an anonymous message of kindness to an educator! This will help you not only fight bullying, but spread kindness too!
Whether your inspiration is the First Lady’s efforts to bring an end to bullying or the seemingly bully-like remarks by the President, bullying needs to be addressed and curtailed!
The statistics on bullying are too grave to ignore. For too long, bullying has gone unaddressed in this country with sayings like, “boys will be boys”.
Luckily, movements like the No Name-Calling Week are addressing this widespread issue in a fun, productive manner! Schools across the country are partaking in this important, enjoyable week. If you are a student or educator, make sure your school is getting involved! If not, send a text or help out! The more we can spread kindness and put an end to bullying, the better off we will all be.