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Anti-Insult Campaign Aims At Youngsters Who Pick On Others

April 20, 1987

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A childish taunt of ″nyaa, nyaa, fatty 3/8″ hurled across a schoolyard would be against school policy if a suburban woman succeeds in her campaign.

Ruth Underwood concedes her ″Stop Children Battering Children″ effort won’t end the insults, ″but it is a beginning.″

″The most you can do is control overt behavior which protects the innocent,″ said the suburban Anderson Township resident. ″But first you have to have the letter of the law. Then attitudes will change.″

The campaign is being run by a group Mrs. Underwood formed earlier, called ″I Am Somebody, Period.″ She launched that effort in 1982 to protest the prestige assigned to designer labels.

She is asking schools to adopt a policy that would oppose name-calling related to physical handicaps or defects, mental handicaps, race and clothing, saying that such a move would help the taunters as well as the targets.

″If he (the abusive child) were feeling better about himself, he wouldn’t be doing it,″ Mrs. Underwood said. ″He is a victim of his own lack of self- esteem. This has the potential to help; that’s our goal.″

Mrs. Underwood recently presented her campaign to the Forest Park School Board. The request for a policy change is being considered.

School counselors say Mrs. Underwood has a valid concern but are not sure how such a cmpaign would work.

″I’m not sure it’s something you can legislate,″ said Scott Johnstone, a counselor at suburban Forest Park High School who says he tries to help students cope with nicknames by bolstering their self-image.

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