They call it No Name-Calling Week, and there’s an interesting story behind it.

It starts with a book called The Misfits by popular kids author James Howe.

Now in its eighth year, No Name-Calling Week was inspired by The Misfits, a novel about a group of 12-year-olds at a middle school.  Sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and Simon and Schuster Children’s publishing, support with support from businesses and organizations ranging from Cisco and the Girl Scouts, the national event (held this year the week of January 24), addresses a subject that most of us would rather ignore, until we can’t anymore: bullying.

But why not let Bobby, one of the main characters in the novel, tell you in his own words:

“Kids who get called the worst names oftentimes find each other. That’s how it was with us.  Skeezie Tookis and Addie Carle and Joe Bunch and me.  We call ourselves the Gang of Five, but there are only four of us.  We do it to keep people on their toes.  Make ’em wonder.  Or maybe we do it because we figure that there’s one more kid out there who’s going to need a gang to be a part of.  A misfit, like us.

It’s serious stuff – schoolyard bullying morphs into cyberbullying and sometimes kids get hurt.  And sometimes they die.

What can you do about it?

Why not talk to other parents about bullying in your community.

Or ask your school board what’s being done about it.

Or put it on the agenda for new program initiatives at your Junior League.

Or talk with friends about starting your own community-based advocacy group.

Because we were all kids once – and chances are, you were either bullied or know someone who was.