I think I was in kindergarten when my mom taught me the rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." I don't remember why she taught it to me, but I remember chanting it over and over and over again. Now, forty some years later, I would never teach that rhyme to my kids or anyone else's, because I believe it is totally untrue. Words do hurt. They hurt a lot. Much, much worse than sticks or stones ever could. And the hurt inflicted by words lasts much longer than the pain of a physical beating.
Franki, at Year of Reading, made me aware that Tuesday, March 31st, is a really important day. Tuesday is "Spread the Word to End the Word." Sponsored by the Special Olympics, "Spread the Word" is "a National Awareness Day to raise awareness of the hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using it."
Here is a link to the Spread the Word campaign. The website includes a fact sheet, several thirty second videos, and this pledge:
I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
At "Year of Reading," Franki has posted a terrific list of children's literature that might open up some conversations about this topic.
Tomorrow is our first day back from Spring Break. We are going to explore this website. We're going to take the pledge and make posters to put up around our school. I want my kids to understand that words have the power to harm or to do good. We are going to use our words- reading, writing, and speaking- to help stop the use of that one very harmful word.