NORTH ANSON, Maine — On the week that begins with a holiday to honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., Carrabec High School will hold its first No Name-Calling Week. Sponsored and organized by the school’s Civil Rights Team, the week of Jan. 22-25 aims to raise awareness among students and staff about the harmful effects of bias-related harassment.
Presentations at an assembly, in advisory groups, and via the school’s lobby video monitor will deliver the message that name-calling is harmful and often has adverse educational and health effects. Messages will be shared via table tents in the cafeteria and posters in the halls. Examples include: “15% of school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being harassed at school” and “THINK before you post or text! If something seems mean — it probably is.”
The Maine Attorney General’s office recently released guidelines for school policies on bullying and harassment that include cyber bullying, even if it is conducted away from school. RSU 74, of which Carrabec High School is a part, currently has a policy based on the AG guidelines under review by its board of directors.
“If the week is successful, name-calling will decrease and upstander behavior will increase,” said Civil Rights Team co-advisor Lisa Savage. Upstander behavior refers to interventions by bystanders who observe name-calling happening. Research on bullying and harassment indicates that motivating upstanders is the most effective way of reducing anti-social behaviors.
A national epidemic of suicides by teens and children targeted for harassment has many school officials and parents as well as students concerned about school climate and safety. A recent school shooting in California also was reported as the result of a targeted student striking back at a student who had bullied him. Studies show that bullying-motivated violence is nearly always preceded by a period of verbal attacks, thus the focus on intervention early in the cycle.
No Name-Calling Week is sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) at schools across the nation each year.
In addition to No Name-Calling Week, the school Civil Rights Team also helps to organize and present an annual Diversity Day at CHS to support MSAD 74’s bullying prevention initiative by increasing awareness and celebrating tolerance of diverse cultures and people within the school community. This year Diversity Day will be held on Monday, April 22.