Cut out the ‘R’ word in school

Published 10:15 am Friday, March 27, 2015

According to the National Education Association, bullying affects more than 160,000 middle and high school children each month. Those who are victims of bullying, be it malicious teasing, physical abuse, obscene gesturing and name-calling, are more likely to experience negative social behaviors and physical issues, such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance, depression, isolation and thoughts of suicide.

Today’s teenagers throw insults around with ease, not even realizing that the words they use are hurtful to others. One of those words is “retard.” One place you won’t hear that word being used is the Southampton County Public Schools system. That is where the Key Club developed a campaign to “Kick the ‘R’ word” out of the district.

With their Friends (how the students referred to others with intellectual and physical disabilities), the club hosted a series of week-long events that raised awareness for and educate their peers on the hurtful effects of using words that are insulting to the disabled community.

The Key Club set the goal of reaching 500 signatures from students promising to abstain from the use of the word, and far exceeded those expectations with 565 — and counting — pledges. This won’t end bullying altogether, but it may be the start of the end at Southampton. It’s refreshing to see high school students put others’ feelings above their own.