For No Name-Calling Week, a reminder that words can hurt

Idiot! Retard! Geek!

Has a Scout in your unit called another Scout one of these names—or worse? If so, did you take action?

No Name-Calling Week begins today, so it’s an excellent time to remind Scouts and Scouters that these “harmless” insults can do real damage to a boy or girl.

In October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, I shared four ways to raise awareness about the kind of bullying that may be happening in your pack, troop, team, or crew. Click here to read that important message.

But this week, I’m zeroing in on name-calling, the one-word attacks that might not seem like bullying but can still harm your Scouts.

In an informal survey earlier today, I asked our Facebook fans whether they’ve ever heard a Scout call another Scout an insulting name. As of the time of this writing, 83 percent of respondents said yes.

So it’s a problem, but what do you do when you hear it at a meeting or outing?

Here are three ideas from your fellow Scouters:

  • “Nip it in the bud. I ask the offending party where the name calling fits into the Scout Law. And of course, when they can’t come up with an answer…” — S.M.
  • “While some degree of teasing is expected at this age group, ‘name-calling,’ that is comments that are hurtful to another, must never be tolerated. The Scout Law guides here and if boy leaders do not step on it, then adults must.” — S.H.
  • “It happens in my team. I remind them that they are brothers in Scouting and should love one another.” — C.F.

Seven more ways to stop name-calling in your Scout unit

  1. Intervene whenever you hear an insulting name. This can be as simple as saying, “We don’t use that word in our troop.”
  2. Set specific rules in your pack, troop, team, or crew that say name-calling isn’t tolerated. Let the Scout Law be your guide.
  3. Ask an older Scout to be your unit’s  “name-calling” watchdog. When he sees it, he should speak up or inform the Senior Patrol Leader or Scoutmaster.
  4. Get parents involved if a Scout’s name-calling doesn’t stop or gets out of hand.
  5. Treat Scouts and other Scouters with respect, and don’t do any name-calling of your own.
  6. Put up anti-bullying signs or posters at your unit meeting site. Have Scouts create them.
  7. Play a game, such as this clever apple activity developed by the Kamaron Institute.

What else has worked to stop name-calling in your unit? Share your tips below.