Twelve Kyrene schools plan to stomp down on bullying next week as they take part in a nationwide effort called No Name-Calling Week.
Each day during the week of Jan. 23-27 will have a different title, all with a common theme to bring awareness about the negative consequences of bullying. Thursday's theme for example is "Words can hurt and you can't take them back."
Kyrene schools have participated in the week individually in the past, but organizers said this was the first year that multiple schools have gotten together in a uniform effort.
"For one week we will try to sponsor events that bring bullying and being passive about bullying, which can be just as harmful, to light," said Dondi Caswell, Akimel A-al Middle School teacher and co-chair of the Kyrene Educators Association's Human and Civil Rights Committee. "Sometimes people will just watch and we want them to think about being part of the solution."
With the advance of Facebook and texting, bullying has become more widespread due to anonymity, Caswell said. Not being able to monitor everything a child does can create opportunities for bullying so the challenge is to show children why bullying can be harmful.
"I think kids are becoming more aware of their actions due to an increase in bullying education," she said. "Three or four years ago, I asked how many of my middle school students had a Facebook account and 75 percent said they did. This year it was 30 percent. Parents have become more aware and are teaching their kids not to name call."
No Name-Calling Week was founded on the principals of a book called "The Misfits," by James Howe.
In the book, a group of four middle school students, the "misfits," each who had been picked on for years, decide to bring the issue to the light at the school.
They are able to convince the principal that theirs is an important cause and bring the first "No Name-Calling Day" to the school.
"It's a book about kids that stand up against bullying and this organization came about because of that book," Caswell said.
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