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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but name-calling hurts, too.
March 20, 2002 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but name-calling hurts, too. Remember in middle school, the awful things people would call one another? (It even happens around here once in a while ;-) Students at Brook Haven Middle School are taking steps to stamp out name-calling at their school and maybe start a nationwide movement while they're at it.
posted by Lynsey (18 comments total)

 
Ninny!
posted by HTuttle at 10:59 AM on March 20, 2002


Got an alternate link, or a little more info to find it ourselves? I got a "search session expired" when I clicked.
posted by Su at 11:22 AM on March 20, 2002


Here's a Santa Rosa Press-Democrat link.
posted by swell at 11:39 AM on March 20, 2002


Sorry about that, Su. Here's a link to the Brook Haven principal's newsletter, where he briefly describes "No Name Week" in the 3rd paragraph down. And ere's a link to author James Howe, who is probably best known for his Bunnicula series.
posted by Lynsey at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2002


Emily Raymond, 13, offered, "Sometimes I think it's the people who aren't afraid of being themselves who get it the worst.

How insightful for 13.
posted by HTuttle at 12:11 PM on March 20, 2002


So, how are they going to refer to each other? Randomly assign numbers or something?

I suppose they could all call each other "hey you!", but this would get confusing after awhile.
posted by beth at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2002


We hope to raise awareness toward the fact that, as James Howe so clearly states in his novel, "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit." 

Well, pardon me, Mr. Howe, but if names can break your spirit, your spirit isn't worth spit. That's sort of the point of the original quotation, for one should realize that strength of spirit as an individual is and should always remain unbreakable, independent of any and all harshities hurled in one's direction by either foes or loving friends, and to proclaim to the world (and to oneself), "You can beat me, kick me, rape me, bound and gag me and drag me through the streets, break my bones and pierce my skin and leave me for dead, but you can never, EVER, break my spirit by simply calling me names."
posted by David Dark at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2002


one should realize that strength of spirit as an individual is and should always remain unbreakable, independent of any and all harshities hurled in one's direction

Perhaps, in the best of all possible worlds.

David Dark has apparently never experienced going through most of elementary school and a fair bit of high school being harassed, humiliated and tormented all day, every day.

It's a drag.

And there's nothing wrong with teaching kids to treat their peers with civility.

"Be nice or leave!" -- Dr. Bob
posted by chuq at 4:15 PM on March 20, 2002


What's new about this? When I was in middle school (almost 15 years ago) we had to go through a year long program in home room designed to teach us the error of our name calling ways.

Once a week we would do exercises, read stories, role play, etc. Namecalling was grounds for surprisingly severe punishment.

I don't recall it having an affect.
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:04 PM on March 20, 2002


chuq, you couldn't be more wrong about what my childhood was like. I know it's a drag. I never said it wasn't. But like obfusciatrist said, even a severe punishment won't keep the namecallers from calling names.

The only thing that kept me sane was the old mantra, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." It's what my parents said to me when I came home crying about the names Johnny called me in school. Because you know as well as I do, you can't get Johnny to shut his mouth. Johnny's a fucker. Johnny might be quiet when Dr. Bob's around to protect you, but as soon as Dr. Bob leaves the room, Johnny's going to lay into you that much harder and if you're spirit isn't up to the test, Johnny will break you.

So I'd say it to myself as I took the verbal lashings. Words will never hurt me. That might just be the most important lesson I ever learned, and here this dickhead twists it into something perverse, "Words will break our spirit." Try repeating that over and over to yourself and then count the days until you stick a gun under your chin and pull the fucking trigger. That is NOT the right attitude, my friend!

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Only a weak mind is stung by insults. Oversensitivity makes you easily overwhelmed.
posted by David Dark at 6:21 PM on March 20, 2002


DavidDark, just kick Johnny's ass, he's got it coming.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on March 20, 2002


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Except for chronic fatigue. Or MS. I think fibromyalgia (sp?) doesn't do much strengthening, either. Nor do the auto-immune diseases...

posted by five fresh fish at 9:21 PM on March 20, 2002


DavidDark, I don't buy into that kind of psychological darwinism. If we are going to try to do everything to make ourselves as physically healthy as possible, we ought to also do whatever we can to make ourselves (and our children) as psychologically fit as we can. It used to be that we took the time to instill in our children a wealth of confidence and esteem. This prevented both the type of extreme verbal abuse we see perpetrated today and the severe effects it has on children who act out violently as a result of receiving it.

Whether done out of boredom, poor communication skills or sociopathic compulsion, namecalling (to the extreme degrees it is taken today) needs to be serioiusly addressed as part of early developmental education and throughout adolescent development as well.
posted by yonderboy at 6:32 AM on March 21, 2002


How does instilling confidence and esteem in your children prevent them from receiving verbal abuse from other kids?
posted by David Dark at 11:00 AM on March 21, 2002


I typeset the UK edition of the James Howe novel just the other day, coincidentally. And my reaction to the "no name" thing was pretty much the same as Mr Dark's. Quite a sweet book all the same, but I sometimes wish that books that dealt with "issues" didn't always have to be cloyingly reassuring in the end. Or at least the ones that I read/typeset.

Like the woman who does the blue eyes/brown eyes anti-racist thing, it's confusing a symptom of a problem for the problem itself and then addressing the symptom.
posted by Grangousier at 12:02 PM on March 21, 2002


David Dark, the word prevention in that sentence refers to severe effects not receiving it. My apologies if it is not clear, but I believe it is a properly structured sentence.
posted by yonderboy at 2:57 PM on March 21, 2002


Then we agree, do we not?
posted by David Dark at 4:21 PM on March 21, 2002


Again, it's a serious problem. Teenagers act out violently under the kind of social pressure they're subject to in schools today, especially when there's little support elsewhere. The 'sticks and stones' reference is just a simplification for dramatic purposes in the book and play. This isn't solved by reciting a cliche repeatedly. But consider yourself lucky, your parents probably did more than you realize.

I'm not sure what's the best solution. It's probably true that punishment has little effect. As chuq said, there's nothing wrong with teaching kids to treat their peers with civility, at least it's a start.
posted by yonderboy at 12:11 AM on March 22, 2002


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