Name-calling and labelling: The actual effect it has on school children

Name-calling and labelling: The actual effect it has on school children

 Name-calling and labelling: The actual effect it has on school children

No name-calling week might sound unfamiliar to some, but did it ever cross your mind why such a week has been introduced in the first place and why it’s celebrated by hundreds of schools and supported by more than 60 organisations across the world?

Well, the answer to this is quite clear – it is a harsh reality and a problem that might be much closer to home than you realised.

During a recent Name-calling and labelling session presented by Pretty Hluyako at one of Penreach’s target schools, many teachers acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and the devastating effects it can have on children.

During the discussion it came to light that numerous drop-out cases may be directly linked to name-calling and verbally bullying.

Name-calling refers to “the use of abusive names to belittle or humiliate another person”.

But what many people don’t always expect is that this type of behaviour is not only common among children, but teachers are often guilty of insulting children too.

A recent international study conducted by psychiatrist, Stuart Twemlow, revealed that 45% of teachers admitted to have bullied a student.

In South Africa the picture does not look any different.

According to Hluyako teachers confirmed that they’ve had similar experiences where children literally ran away from school due to teachers calling them names, resulting in an increased drop-out rate.

Penreach encourages teachers to be conscious of such behaviour and to focus on uplifting children and help building their confidence.


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Symptoms of name-calling and bullying

If you believe your teen or child might be a victim of name-calling or bullying, watch out for these signs:

  • Comes  home with unexplained injuries or with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
  • Has change in eating habits
  • Makes excuses not to go to school
  • Has fewer friends
  • Feels helpless
  • Talks about suicide
  • Acts out of character
  • Avoids certain places or playing outside alone
  • Feels like they are not good enough
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Blames themselves for their problems

Resolving name-calling and bullying:

When it comes to name-calling, many teens or children may not understand that this is also a form of bullying. They might start out by joking, but calling someone a name with the intent of hurting them is not okay. Be sure your child understands calling someone a name, even if they feel the person deserves it, is not okay and is a form of bullying. Even if the child or teen is saying the name-calling behind the back of their peer, it is still something that might get to that other teen or child. It is not okay even if the other teen or child started the name-calling. Be sure to talk to your child about the rules of name-calling. If your child has problems with name-calling, be sure to talk to them or talk to the school administration and teachers to help mediate the problem. In many situations with name-calling, there has probably been some sort of fight or misunderstanding between the children or teens that needs to be sorted out. However, name-calling will only make the situation worse. It is best to talk out the situation among the teachers, or the other child’s parent with the children involved to help resolve the situation. If bullying problems persist, be sure to inform the school administration of the problem and seek their assistance in resolving the matter.


Why Do People Bully?

There are a variety of reasons why people bully, including:

  • Cultural Causes of Bullying 

In a culture that is fascinated with winning, power, and violence, some experts suggest that it is unrealistic to expect that people will not be influenced to seek power through violence in their own lives. Researchers point to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as glorification of bullies in the name of entertainment and point out that the high rate of domestic violence means that many young people grow up expecting that violence is an acceptable way to get what one wants.

  • Institutional Causes

If the institution at which the bullying takes place – whether the home, the school, or the workplace – does not have high standards for the way people treat each other, then bullying may be more likely and/or prevalent and have an influence on why people bully.

  • Social Issues

The fact that one gets more social recognition for negative behaviors than for positive ones can also contribute to reasons why people bully. Situation comedies and reality television, as well as real life situations in schools, for example, show that acting out is more likely to get noticed than behaving oneself civilly and courteously. Jealousy or envy and a lack of personal and social skills to deal with such feelings can also be reasons why people bully.

  • Family Issues

Families that are not warm and loving and in which feelings are not shared are more likely to have children who bully, either within the family home or in other locations in which the children meet others. Another home environment that is prone to producing bullies is one in which discipline and monitoring are inconsistent and/or a punitive atmosphere exists.

  • The Bully’s Personal History

Children who experience social rejection themselves are more likely to “pass it on” to others. Children who experience academic failure are also more likely to bully others.

  • Having Power

Some research indicates that the very fact of having power may make some people wish to wield it in a noticeable way, but it is also true that people may be given power without being trained in the leadership skills that will help them wield it wisely. Either situation can contribute to why people bully others.

  • Provocative Victims

People who are annoying and condescending to others and/or aggressive verbally, or in other ways that are not picked up by those in authority, may contribute to the dynamic that can be characterized as bullying by one individual but actually grows out of provocation by another individual.

  • Unreliable Reports

According to StÃ¥le Einarsen of the University of Bergen in Norway in “The nature and causes of bullying at work,” because most reports of bullying come from a victim, in cases in which there is a provocative victim or the so-called bullying stems from a dispute between the parties or other pre-existing interpersonal conflict, outside evidence should be gathered before it is concluded that bullying has taken place.