NAME-CALLING IN THE
CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Everyday we hear names echo down the corridors of our schools and
explode in our classrooms. Maybe it's happened to us, maybe it hasn't.
We certainly can sense the pain and humiliation of the children, and
sometimes we can see their anger.
Insults take many forms. They all hurt. Racial, ethnic, and sexual
slurs are particularly abusive because they reflect a history of
oppression. Therefore there is more power to inflict damage with such
slurs. Do children need to be reminded that they are members of a
Sometimes slurs don't even get recognized as being hurtful and may be
considered socially acceptable. Many young people use terms such as
“nigger,” “epic,” “faggot,” “lezbo,” and “queer” because they know the
effectiveness of their hurtful nature. The use of slurs attacks
another's self-esteem and teaches young people that hatred of one group
is condoned by our society.
As educators, it falls on us to create a cooperative learning
environment where students are safe to express themselves in all their
diversity. It is also the responsibility of educators to teach children
that diversity is something to be celebrated rather than ridiculed.
EXERCISE FOR ESTABLISHING CLASSROOM RULES
Even without a Code of Discipline, name-calling can be
controlled within the classroom using the following exercise:
- Have students brainstorm names they have heard or
have been called.
- List all suggestions on the board.
- Discuss the following categories and categorize
names accordingly: racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, or religious bias.
- Make students aware that all name-calling involves
prejudice and is equally bad.
- State that none of the listed names are acceptable
in your classroom.
- Make it clear that you will not tolerate any form
- Explain why and discuss consequences for failure
to adhere to this rule.
You can control behavior in your classroom. It you react
immediately to any transgressions, students will feel safe in the
A CODE OF DISCIPLINE
- Name-calling, which has one basis in poor self-esteem, has
the spiral effect of further lowering self-esteem, making it difficult
for learning to take place.
- A systemwide Code of Discipline will assist in
controlling name-calling when this behavior is addressed directly.
- A phrase in one school's Code of Discipline
defines the unacceptable behavior: "Willful obscene, abusive, or
profane language or gestures (including racial, religious, ethnic,
gender, disability, or sexual slurs)."
- This definition is followed by specific
consequences for transgressions.
- With system-wide support and commitment a
discipline code is very effective in eliminating name-calling not only
in the classroom but also in the hallways where it is most prevalent.
*Taken from Name Calling, Equity
Institute, Inc. Box 458 Amherst, Mass. 01004
See the Model Anti-Harassment Policy published by the
American Civil Liberties Union at www.aclu.org/issues/gay/schoolpolicy.html