Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.
from The Misfits by James Howe

The annual No-Name Calling Week is scheduled for January 20-24, 2020. This annual event was established by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing in 2004 and is based on James Howe’s children’s book The Misfits. During No Name-Calling week, events organized by K-12 students and teachers are designed to end bullying in school. How? By putting kindness into action. The annual event is currently sponsored by GLSEN, which seeks to protect LBGTQ students, as well as those with marginalized identities.

The Misfits is the story of Bobby, Addie, Joe, and Skeezie, four middle school students who create a “gang of five” as a safe retreat from being called names. Addie masterminds the creation of an alternative political party for the school election to address social injustices. Their platform? No name-calling.

Why Do We Need No Name-Calling Week?

Increased Awareness of School Bullying

In The Misfits, teasing and name-calling are rampant in the local school and community. Real-life statistics from indicate that despite public perception, school bullying has likely not increased with time. Rather, there has been increased awareness, which puts the issue front and center. The prevalence of social media has created new channels for intimidation.

By Highwaystarz from Getty Images Pro

School bullying is linked to depression in teens. The CDC also notes a link between suicide and bullying, although there is not enough evidence to show cause and effect. But it’s not only the victims who suffer. Bullying has negative effects, including an increased sense of helplessness, for everyone involved: those who are bullied, those who bully, and even those who witness the event but do not participate.

Although anyone can become a victim of school bullying, some students are at greater risk than others. Like in The Misfits, those students who perceived as different than others are at higher risk. “Different” can include race, body size, LGBTQ, and lack of funds to wear stylish clothing.Those with low self-esteem and poor peer relationships are also at greater risk.

Kindness Is the Antidote

Being bullied is an isolating experience, even when others are present. However, feeling supported by others helps. When a bystander speaks out, it lessens the hurt and stigma. Students should always be cognizant of their own safety by speaking up when it feels appropriate, and seeking adult help as well. Bullying is intended to isolate and tear someone down; kindness does the opposite.

During No Name-Calling Week, use the hashtag #KindnessInAction to connect with others.

How to Participate in This Year’s Event

At School

There are many different possible school activities for No Name-Calling Week. Be creative! From creating a sticky note mural, to writing an article for the school newspaper, click here for many more suggestions.

At Home

Although No Name-Calling week is primarily school-based, you can participate outside of school hours, too. GLSEN suggests the following.

  • TEXT KIND to 21333 to send an anonymous message of kindness to a fellow student.
  • SHARE No Name-Calling Week on social media to encourage other students and teachers to participate at their school.
  • LEARN how to be an ally, not a bystander, when someone is being bullied.

Related Links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (undated). The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What It Means for Schools. Retrieved January 18, 2020 from

GLSEN – Be an Ally, Not a Bystander. Retrieved January 18, 2020 from

GLSEN – No Name-Calling Week. Retrieved January 18, 2020 from

Simple Ways to Participate. Retrieved January 18, 2020 from

About the Author

Barbara Spanjers, MS MFT is a therapist and wellness coach who helps people feel more attuned with food and their body.