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Name calling and labeling: Their effects on middle school students

15 December 1994


Name calling and the related phenomena of labeling, where the name an individual is being called sticks and is used to define the individual in some way, have long been in evidence in many school settings. The purpose of this study is to examine not only the existence of these social forces within the context of an urban middle school, but also to study their effect on students. This study focused on three main questions concerning name calling and labeling. How prevalent is peer name calling and labeling in the middle school environment? How does this name calling and labeling affect students personally and how does it affect their attitude toward school? What can the school do to curb name calling and labeling and their effects. Methods employed to research these questions included school-wide observation, interviews with both students and faculty/staff, an anonymous questionnaire, and a review of literature relating to this topic. By the conclusion of this study, the evidence suggests that name calling and labeling are indeed very prevalent in the middle school environment and their effects are far reaching. Students' self-esteem and desire to succeed can become severely weakened by the negative effects of labeling and name calling. However, the school can curb these effects to a large degree. It requires developing a firm strategy and the perseverance to enforce it.


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