Why is No Name-Calling Week important?

Observed during the third week of January ( January 16–20, 2023), the main focus and purpose of the No Name-Calling Week is to educate students, teachers, and the public on the harms of name-calling. Children at schools have been called derogatory names, bullied, and shamed for reasons they have little or no control over, such as their weight, height, intelligence, sexual orientation, and other characteristics,

Although some people view name-calling as harmless fun, those who are the targets of it typically feel insecure, ashamed, and bullied to the point where they lose their sense of self-worth, feel unwelcome in their immediate contexts, and experience mental anguish. The long term effects of name-calling can be anything from psychological injuries to self-isolation to considering suicide.

The very first observation of “No Name-Calling Week” was back in 2004. It was started by school teachers, students in the US and sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (G.L.S.E.N.), an American education organisation working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression, and also to prompt LGBTQIA+ cultural inclusion and awareness in schools.

The main theme has been to end name-calling and other forms of bullying and shaming in schools. The aim is to educate people about the long-term and harmful effects of bullying and thereby reduce bullying and shaming.

A survey conducted in 2017, in Bengaluru, Shivamogga, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Guwahati, and nine other cities revealed that as many as 42% of students in Class 4–8 and 36% of Class 9–12 experienced  harassment by peers while at school. This was a five-year study conducted by “The Teacher Foundation” in association with Wipro Applying Thought in School. Besides physical fights, the students were made fun of, bullied, teased, insulted, and ridiculed.

With no explicit legislation in India to deal with bullying in schools, India has lost many students, including a lot of queer folks. Arvey Malhotra, son of Aarti Malhotra, a 16-year-old student of Delhi Public School, Faridabad, died by suicide in February, 2022.

While studying in class 10 as a student of one of Delhi NCR’s elite schools, the Delhi Public School (DPS), Arvey jumped from the building where he stayed with his mom. Arvey had reportedly been bullied and sexually assaulted at school, and yet it continued. The school authorities, who have the responsibility of safeguarding a child’s physical and mental health, failed to do their due diligence.

Of course, anyone at any age can be bullied and harassed, but the impact of this is different on children and young adults, so it is so much more crucial for children to be safeguarded in schools and homes. So, do your part and talk to your peers or young folks around you about the long term impacts of verbal harassment, including name-calling, bullying, mockery, and insults!